Russian River sanctuary opens Tuesday morning

Beth Bragg

Good news for Kenai Peninsula anglers hungry for salmon.

The Russian River sanctuary area will open Tuesday morning for sockeyes, about three weeks earlier than the scheduled opening, the state Fish & Game department said Monday.

Through noon Monday, more than 26,000 red salmon had passed the Russian River weir, prompting the state department of Fish & Game to open the sanctuary and liberalize bag and possession limits on the Russian and Upper Kenai.

"It's a big run so far," said state biologist Jason Pawluk of Soldotna. "There's a lot of fish down in the sanctuary, in the falls and below the falls."

The daily bag limit will double to six and the possession limit will go up to 12, the department announced Monday afternoon.

The limits don't apply to king salmon. Fishing for those prized Kenai catches remains banned.

By regulation, the sanctuary doesn't open until July 15 unless the early run of reds exceeds the escapement goal of 22,000 to 42,000. That goal was reached Monday.

"Given that it's a Tuesday, we don't know what to expect in terms of how many (people) will show up," Pawluk said. "I imagine it will be a pretty big crowd."

Fishing in the sanctuary begins at 8 a.m. The change in bag and possession limits goes into effect one minute after midnight Tuesday.

Reach Beth Bragg at or 257-4335.