The Department of Fish and Game today shut down commercial drift gillnetting for salmon in Cook Inlet's key Central District, saying in a news release Sunday: "The sockeye salmon return to the Kenai River appears to be much smaller than forecast."
Last season brought a similar late July announcement, and commercial fishing never reopened.
The Kenai River generally is the largest sockeye producer in Cook Inlet.
State biologists forecast a commercial harvest of around 2.6 million sockeye this year in Upper Cook Inlet, which if achieved would top last season’s disappointing 2.4 million.
As of Thursday, however, the sockeye catch stood at just over 1.9 million fish.
Keep in mind, of course, that Cook Inlet is just one of several areas around Alaska that produce sockeye, the main money fish for the salmon industry.
The richest sockeye hole by far is Bristol Bay, which has yielded a bumper catch of more than 30 million fish this season.