Catch limits increased for Russian River sockeye

Many people fishing in a river with mountains in the background
Anglers fish the Russian River on Friday, June 24. (Riley Board/KDLL)

Anglers on the Russian River can now catch up to six sockeye a day and be in possession of 12, per an emergency order from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. That’s an increase from the previous bag limit of three sockeye and possession limit of six.

Fish and Game biologist Colton Lipka said that last week, escapement numbers were exceeding expectations.

“So we increase the bag limits when our projections indicate that we won’t have any issues achieving the escapement goal, and right now our projection actually indicates that we will go over the upper bound of our escapement goal,” Lipka said. “We up the bag limit to give folks more opportunity to take fish home.”

According to Fish and Game, as of last Wednesday more than 17,000 sockeye had passed through the weir upriver. The department’s escapement goal for the early run, which peaks around June 27, is between 22,000 and 42,000 sockeye.

Lipka cautions anglers about the specifics of the new regulations, which only allow the increased bag and possession limits in the Russian River, the Russian River Sanctuary Area and Skilak Lake — nowhere else in the region.

“You cannot fish in waters where you have over your possession limit. If you did go up, and you get more than six, and then you wanted to go fish the main stem Kenai for sockeye, you couldn’t do that, because you have more than the possession limit in the main stem lower river allows,” Lipka said.

If the bag limit is three in one area and six in another, Lipka also warns that that doesn’t mean someone can possess nine salmon at one time.

The catch and possession limit change went into effect at 12:01 Saturday morning and will be in place until July 14.

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