Weak king salmon return prompts Kenai Peninsula fishing closures

A poor return of king salmon on the Anchor River will shut down all sport fishing on the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep Creek drainages beginning Saturday morning, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game announced Thursday.

In addition, no king salmon fishing, including catch and release, will be allowed in marine waters within one mile of shore between Bluff Point and the Ninilchik River.

Restrictions will run through Sunday, July 15.

As of Tuesday, 90 king salmon had been counted on the Anchor River, well below the sustainable escapement goal of 3,800 to 7,600 fish, according to a Fish & Game press release. Biologists don't believe the goal will be met this year, prompting the closures.

Weak king salmon returns to the Anchor have been common in the last decade or so, leading to restrictions and closures for that river in 2014 and from 2009 to 2011.

In most years, escapement goals were not met despite those measures, which is why "it is warranted to restrict sport fishing on the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek as well," biologist Carol Kerkvliet said in a press release.