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Alaska Department of Fish and Game announces sport fishery closures

Kachemak Bay from Land's End Beach. Lower Cook Inlet saw high numbers of salmon caught but still struggled with poor market value.
Jamie Diep
Kachemak Bay from Land's End Beach.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced multiple king salmon sport fishery closures and restrictions in Cook Inlet for the upcoming season earlier this month. The department is closing king salmon sport fisheries in Cook Inlet saltwaters north of Bluff Point near Homer, and the Kenai River from May 1 to Aug. 15.

That time frame includes both early and late run king salmon fisheries in the Kenai River. King salmon sport fisheries in the Anchor River and Deep Creek are also closing from May 18 to July 15.

Holly Dickson is the lower Cook Inlet assistant area management biologist for the department’s division of sport fish. She says the closures are due to pre-season projections falling under sustainable escapement goals and optimal escapement goals for different fisheries, which are goals set around the number of fish moving from fisheries to spawn. These closures aim to conserve wild king salmon numbers.

However, She said anglers will still be able to fish for king salmon in lower Cook Inlet.

“There are a handful of, of fisheries that will be open for opportunity,” she said, “and those are primarily our enhanced and and stocked fisheries like the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit and Seldovia and the hatchery fishery, and the Ninilchik and Kasilof rivers.”

Other emergency orders allow fishing for king salmon with restrictions. From May 1 to June 30, Anglers can fish in Cook Inlet saltwaters south of Bluff Point with a reduced bag and possession limit of one king salmon. The early-run Kasilof River sport fishery will also be open at that time with a bag and possession limit of two hatchery fish that are at least 20 inches long.

The Ninilchik king salmon fishery opens from May 25 to July 15. Anglers have a bag and possession limit for hatchery fish of two over 20 inches, and 10 for hatchery fish shorter than that. They will be allowed to catch king salmon using gear with a single hook and bait.

Dickson says the emergency orders restricting freshwater sport fisheries reflect regulations from new management plans adopted by the Alaska Board of Fisheries at its Lower Cook Inlet meeting in Nov. 2023 and Upper Cook Inlet meeting earlier this month. Changes in the future will not need an emergency order.

“We just wanted to make sure that there was no question about, you know, that the regulations had changed, and they are in effect for this coming fishing season,” she said.

The emergency orders only affect king salmon sport fisheries. Anglers will be able to continue fishing for halibut and other groundfish based on current department regulations.

Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.
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