If the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preseason forecast for the early run of chinook salmon on the Kenai River proves to be accurate, it will be the second lowest run on the river in 30 years. However, the newly released run forecast of 5,265 fish is more than twice the 2014 forecast for the struggling salmon run.
Despite the promising uptick in numbers, area manager Robert Begich said the upcoming fishing season would likely be managed similarly to last season. In 2014, managers announced a rare preseason closure of fishing for early run king salmon. Begich said anglers should look for management actions from the department soon.
While the numbers of fish forecasted to return is more promising than last year’s forecast, the outlook for early run chinook is still well below average and would not make Fish and Game’s escapement goal of 5,300-9,000 fish.
Kenai king salmon runs typically range in age from 3 to 7 years old, meaning biologists look at runs from 2008 forward as a predictor of the upcoming season’s return. One factor is the return per spawner, or how many fish made it back into the river from a parent generation.
But, as of June 1st, the number of fish passing throught sonar was promising, with nearly 1,000 fish counted. The is a good sign compared to about 200 fish counted to the same date in 2013 and 2014. Keep your fingers crossed that the numbers continue to climb and the Kenai opens up on July 1st.