KENAI - New regulations aimed at protecting large, early-run Kenai River king salmon appear to be working, said a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Biologist Mark Gamblin said the regulation worked well at providing a harvest opportunity to anglers while protecting the largest of the large fish.
The regulation mandates that anglers release early-run Kenai kings measuring more than 44 inches and less than 55 inches in length.
"People were able to harvest a good number of fish," Gamblin said.
He said final numbers aren't yet available but he estimates that around 13,000 kings returned to the river during the early run, of which perhaps about 3,000 were harvested by sportfishermen.
Gamblin said the department estimates roughly 25 percent of kings caught during the early run fell into the 44- to 55-inch nonretention slot. Of those, Gamblin guessed several likely fell into the higher end of the range. The run ended June 30.
"We had reliable reports of fish in the 50-inch range (being released)," he said.