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Kenai dipnetters must toss back any kings

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

 

Another day, another king salmon restriction in Alaska.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced on Friday that any king salmon caught in the popular dipnet fishery this month at the mouth of the Kenai must be immediately released.

King salmon returns have been poor to miserable statewide, and state fishery biologists predict that the second run of kings to the Kenai River will follow the pattern. The Kenai River Late-Run King Salmon Management Plan directs biologists to manage the personal-use dipnet fishery conservatively “in an effort to avoid additional restrictions or closure to the sport fishery.”

Through June 30, the counts of king salmon using in-river sonar devices “were the lowest on record,” according to the Fish and Game website.  The cumulative sonar estimate of 3,336 kings through June 29 is only a little more than half of what it was last year. “Initial indicators of Kenai River late-run strength are below average,” according to a Fish and Game press release.

The Kenai River dipnet fishery targeting red salmon begins Tuesday July 10, continuing the rest of the month.