Sockeyes Arrive Early to Russian River

Shady Grove Oliver

     The sockeye salmon fishery opened on the Russian River June 11th. Despite low predictions, it’s been good fishing so far. 

     The Russian River sockeye fishery is one of only a handful with a set opening date.  

     Robert Begich is the area sport fish management biologist for the upper Kenai Peninsula. He says June 11th marks the annual start of the early run period.

     “The rest of the Kenai River drainage is open to sockeye salmon fishing," says Begich. "When we get to July 15th, up Russian River, that’s when we get into what we call our late-run period. Late-run Russian fish are part of the larger late-run Kenai River sockeye salmon.”

     Begich says the past few years on the river have been marked by inconsistent runs. Despite the few lower years, Begich says this fishery hasn’t been in danger of missing its escapement goals. This season’s early-run biological escapement goal is 22,000 to 42,000 fish.

     “And then for the late-run sockeye salmon to Russian River, the sustainable escapement goal is 32,000 to 110,000," says Begich. "Those fish are enumerated at a weir located above the Russian River Falls at the outlet Lower Russian Lake.”

     Begich says the fish arrived early this year, as they have in other places around the state. That makes it hard to gauge the character of the run this early on.

     It’s good fishing so far, though. Catch rates have been high and he says that’s due in part to one particular factor.

     "You know the water’s low," says Begich. "We’ve noticed that all season long in the Kenai and the Russian. The water conditions are great for fishing.”

     Sockeye season continues on the Russian River through August 20th. The bag limit there and on the Kenai is three fish with six in possession.