Howard Delo

The days are getting longer. As the winter season shades into early spring, many folks begin thinking about open water fishing, with the big draw for almost all spring anglers being salmon, specifically king salmon.

A longstanding complaint folks in the sport fishing industry, like guides, have had with Fish and Game over the years is how long it has taken to get the early season regulations and forecasts out to the public. Guides need this information to book fishing trips and answer questions from their potential clients. Here are some sport fishing announcements.

Quoting from the Jan. 22 advisory announcement from the Palmer Fish and Game office: “To protect returning king salmon and ensure fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing restrictions for Units 1 — 6 of the Susitna River drainage effective 6:00 a.m. Saturday, May 1 through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Sport fishing for king salmon in Units 1 — 6 of the Susitna River is restricted to catch-and-release only. Sport fishing gear is restricted to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in all waters of the Susitna River drainage. A single hook is defined as a hook with only one point. Any king salmon caught, must be released immediately. A person may not remove a king salmon from the water before releasing the fish.”

Continuing, “Days in which catch-and-release fishing is allowed in Unit 2 of the Susitna River are restricted to seven days per week from Saturday, May 1 through Monday, June 14, 2021, and then only on Sunday and Monday for three consecutive weekends starting Sunday, June 20 (June 20 — 21, June 27 — 28, and July 4 — 5).

The announcement goes on to state, “In conjunction with this restriction, emergency order “ 2-KS-2-06-21 restricts fishing for king salmon in the Little Susitna River to catch-and-release only and sport fishing gear is restricted to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure. Please review the emergency orders in their entirety.” You can find the announcement on the ADF&G Sport Fish website or get a copy at the ADF&G office in Palmer.

If you’re thinking of doing some saltwater king salmon angling in Cook Inlet this coming season, here are the emergency regulations ADF&G issued on Feb. 1: “ To protect returning king salmon and ensure sport fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is reducing the annual limit of king salmon 20 inches or greater in length from five fish to two fish in the Cook Inlet salt waters north of the latitude of Bluff Point (59° 40.00’ N. lat.). This regulatory change is effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday, April 1 through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 15, 2021. All other sport fishing regulations outlined in the 2021 Southcentral Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet (available March 2021) for Cook Inlet salt waters remain the same.”

If you’re thinking of heading down on the Kenai Peninsula for some early season fishing, this announcement states: “In conjunction with this restriction, emergency order 2-KS-7-09-21 restricts fishing gear to only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the Anchor River and Deep Creek drainages from May 22 through June 23, 2021. In addition, emergency order 2-KS-7-10-21 restricts the bag and possession limit in the Ninilchik River drainage to one hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater in length during the Memorial Day weekend (May 29 — 31), and the following two weekends and Mondays following each weekend (June 5 — 7 and June 12 — 14), and the Youth-Only Fishery (June 9). Please review these emergency orders in their entirety.”

A second advisory announcement about the Ninilchik River says, …the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing restrictions for king salmon in the Ninilchik River drainage effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 29 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 14, 2021. The king salmon bag and possession limit in the Ninilchik River is limited to only hatchery king salmon. The bag and possession limits for anglers is one hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater in length and 10 hatchery king salmon under 20 inches. Hatchery king salmon are recognized by a missing adipose fin and healed adipose fin clip scar. All naturally-produced or wild king salmon have an adipose fin, and may not be removed from the water, and must be released immediately.”

The regulation booklet is due out in March. Check the ADF&G website for advisory announcements regarding Kenai early run king salmon.

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