Southcentral king salmon sport fishing closures continue

(Alaska Public Media file photo)

Sport fishing for king salmon is looking bleak in Southcentral after recent closures announced by the Department of Fish and Game.

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All sport fishing for kings on the Kenai River, including catch and release, closed Wednesday. Farther to the north, king fishing will close starting Friday morning on the Susitna and Little Susitna rivers, as well as the Big Su’s tributaries. A subsistence fishery on the Upper Yentna is also set to close early Monday.

The more recent closures follow earlier, broader restrictions for streams off the Parks Highway and elsewhere. Now, the popular Deshka River king salmon sport fishery is also closed.

“It is pretty widespread,” Area Management Biologist Sam Ivey said. “As far as I know, we’re the last area up here in the north to close to fishing for wild king salmon. The only fisheries open now are hatchery-stocked.”

Biologists say fish counts have shown far fewer king salmon swimming upstream to breeding grounds than were expected. The closure notices say shutting down sport fishing for kings is necessary to protect fish numbers and fishing opportunities in the future.

The closures for the Susitna and Little Su rivers are set to run through July 13 and to the end of July for the Kenai River.

Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts.

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