The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has announced a significant closure in sport fishing for king salmon in the northern Cook Inlet salt waters, extending north of Bluff Point’s latitude (59° 40.00′ N. lat.). This decision, effective from 12:01 a.m. on May 1 through 11:59 p.m. on August 15, 2024, is a measure aimed at safeguarding the early-run and late-run king salmon populations and ensuring future sport fishing opportunities.

Under the new regulations, anglers in the affected areas are prohibited from targeting king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing. Any king salmon inadvertently caught while fishing for other species must not be removed from the water and should be released immediately. However, the closure does not apply to fishing for other species, such as halibut, with specific regulations outlined in the Conservation Zones remaining unaffected.

The decision follows observations from the escapement monitoring of early-run and late-run king salmon in the Kenai, Anchor, and Deshka Rivers, which indicate that the salmon runs are expected to fall below the minimum escapement goals this year. This concerning trend also follows two consecutive years, 2022 and 2023, where these salmon stocks failed to meet their escapement targets.

In response to these declines, the Alaska Board of Fisheries has adopted a management plan addressing the stock of concern for the Kenai River late-run king salmon. Part of this plan includes an annual closure of sport fishing for king salmon north of Bluff Point until the population recovers sufficiently to be removed from the stock of concern status, as defined in the action plan.

This strategic move by the ADF&G and the Alaska Board of Fisheries highlights the commitment to the conservation of king salmon stocks in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, ensuring the sustainability of sport fishing for future generations. Anglers and visitors are encouraged to consult the current Southcentral Sport Fishing Regulation Summary booklet for detailed regulations and updates.

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