A stretch of the Russian River has opened early for sport fishing after what officials are calling a strong start to the season, according to a release from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Starting at Wednesday, June 12, anglers will be allowed to sport fish for sockeye salmon in the Russian River Sanctuary area. ADFG says the regulatory change will be in effect until late Sunday night, July 14.

As of this past weekend, ADFG says about 4,700 sockeye salmon have passed through the Russian River weir. Based on recent stream surveys, ADFG staff estimate there are over 5,000 fish in both the Russian River and Russian River Sanctuary area. It's believed that the early-run sockeye salmon biological escapement goal of 22,000 to 42,000 sockeye salmon will be met.

"Looks like the Russian River is off to a strong start. We haven’t seen numbers like this for several years,” said area management biologist Colton Lipka. “Sport fishing for sockeye salmon in the Russian River area will likely be good to excellent.”

Upper Kenai River and Russian River Confluence (Photo: ADFG)

ADFG also announced they would be doubling the limits of sockeye salmon in the area from three per day, six in possession to six per day, 12 in possession. This increase also applies to a section of the mainstem Upper Kenai River and will be in effect from Friday, June 14, through late Sunday night, July 14.

The section of the mainstem Upper Kenai River includes the area that extends from Skilak Lake upstream to ADFG regulatory markers located about 300 yards upstream of the public boat launch at Sportsman's Landing, including the Russian River Sanctuary area. This also includes the Russian River from its mouth upstream to an ADFG marker located about 600 yards downstream from the Russian River Falls.

“It is exciting to see the number of sockeye salmon that have passed through the Russian River weir and been observed inriver,” Lipka said. “Increasing the limit to six per day will allow anglers to hit the river and harvest some fresh sockeye.”

ADFG is reminding anglers to pay close attention to limits and regulations throughout the sport fishing season. For more information, refer to the 2019 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet.

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