Preemptive restrictions put on late-season kings on the Kenai

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - While the sockeye fishery on the Russian River has already surpassed escapement, Fish and Game biologists decided to play it safe for Kenai and Kasilof kings and banned bait fishing for Chinook beginning July 1.

In an Emergency Order (EO) issued Tuesday, Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka said that the past few seasons have shown reason for concern, in addition to this year's escapement.

“Based upon the preseason forecast and recent king salmon performance around Cook Inlet, restrictions are warranted in order to meet the escapement goal and still provide fishing opportunity for Kenai River late-run king salmon,” he said.

Kenai fishermen and women looking for kings are going to have to try to get their catch without using bait such as eggs or meat--instead, they’ll have to rely on artificial lures.

Another emergency order for the Kasilof River is even more stringent: It bans fishing with multiple hooks in the Kasilof and limits anglers to a single, unbaited hook. Anglers can keep one Chinook per day and have one in possession on the Kasilof.

So far this season, the numbers on the Kenai are slightly higher than last year, but still below historic averages. As of Monday, 3,011 kings over 34 inches had passed through the sonar station at Mile 14 of the Kenai, still below the goal of 3,900 to 6,600 for the early-run king season, which ends on July 1.

A February emergency order issued for the Kenai River that blocks off a section of the Kenai from 300 yards downstream of Slikok Creek to the outlet of Skilak Lake from keeping any kings is still in effect.

All three emergency orders are in effect until July 31.

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