Those who planned a fishing trip up to Soldotna, Alaska to fish the famed Kenai River for king salmon might be in for a shocker this summer.
The Alaska Fish and Game Department announced an emergency closure effective now (June 7) through June 30 for kings from the outlet of Skilak Lake downstream after returns were predicted to be weak.
Sport fishing for kings will remain closed July 1-14 upstream from the Soldotna Bridge to the outlet of Skilak Lake and Moose River from its confluence with the Kenai River upstream to the northernmost edge of the Sterling Highway Bridge.
Normally in years past a slot limit on the size of king salmon in which only a fish larger than 50 inches may be kept was implemented or it would go to catch and release fishing only.
The entire closure to the fishery was the last straw, and biologists say the sonar counter in the river through June 5 showed only 1,202 kings are swimming in the river.
Based on run-timing models, they are projecting a total return of about 3,800 kings, indicating that with additional catches it is likely the optimal escapement goal will not be achieved.
Fisheries biologists also say the sockeye salmon return is expected to be poor, which could put a strain on businesses and visitors to the area later this summer as well.
(Photo taken by Associated Press)