A day after announcing sport fishing closures on the Kenai River for early-run king salmon, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has implemented a series of closures for kings on three other rivers.

Wednesday’s closure completely bars king salmon fishing in the Upper Yentna River subsistence and Little Susitna sport fisheries respectively. In Units 1 to 6 of the Susitna River sport fishery for kings which was also closed, sport fishers will be restricted to “one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure when fishing.”

Fish and Game Deputy Director Tom Taube said in the statement that the closure is based on a “low productivity run” of king salmon, as well as reports from the field and fish wheels that the Susitna River drainage’s early run has been lower than expected.

“ADF&G staff were optimistically cautious that the king salmon run would increase as the season progressed; however, that is not the case,” Taube said. “Therefore, all fish within the Yentna drainage must be conserved to provide the greatest potential for achieving escapement goals in 2018; thus, it is warranted to now also close the Yentna River subsistence king salmon fishery.”

The news comes amid continuing poor runs of kings, reflected in data this week from the Deshka River. Although half of its expected 13,000 to 28,000 fish should have passed a weir at mile 7 of the river by Tuesday, just under 4,000 fish had passed with a projected total of just over 8,250 fish.

The areas completely closed to king fishing include the Yentna from Martin Creek upstream to the confluence with the Skwentna River, and the Little Susitna from its confluences with Cook Inlet upstream to the Parks Highway bridge.

The Yentna’s subsistence fishery for kings is closed from 4 a.m. Monday through June 30, while the Susitna and Little Susitna sport closures start at 6 a.m. Friday and continue through July 13.

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