Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Alaska Suggests New Fish Consumption Guidelines

From an Alaska Department of Health and Social Services News Release:

The health benefits from eating fish far outweigh any potential risk from the small amounts of contaminants found in most Alaska fish, according to guidelines released today by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Public health scientists reaffirmed that fish continues to be an important part of a healthy diet for everyone, including pregnant and nursing women, and young children.

Recent data from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Fish Monitoring Program, which has tested over 2,300 fish, reveal a wide variation of mercury content among the 23 species of fish sampled from Alaska waters between 2001 and 2006. Although all fish contain some level of mercury, levels in all species of Alaska wild salmon are very low. Further evidence that Alaska fish are healthy to eat comes from the state’s ongoing free program that monitors mercury levels in the hair of Alaska women. State health officials have not received any reports of unsafe mercury levels in Alaskans who have eaten fish from local waters.

“Fish is an excellent source of lean protein, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins,” said Dr. Lori Verbrugge, toxicologist with Public Health and lead author of the new report. “Although we recommend that everyone eat fish at least twice a week, our new guidelines offer specific advice on how to minimize mercury exposure for sensitive groups — namely women who are or can become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children age 12 and under.”

Too much mercury, a toxic metal found in the environment, can harm the developing nervous system of unborn babies and growing children.

Only five species of sport-caught Alaska fish had high enough mercury levels to warrant limiting consumption to two meals or less per week for these sensitive groups. Yelloweye rockfish, large lingcod (40-45 inches) and large halibut (50-90 pounds) can be eaten as often as twice a week, while salmon shark, spiny dogfish, very large lingcod (over 45 inches) and very large halibut (over 90 pounds) can be consumed as often as once a week. Because commercially caught halibut weigh an average of about 33 pounds, halibut purchased from stores or restaurants is safe for this group to eat up to four times a week.

All other groups, including adult men, teenage boys, and women who cannot become pregnant, have no restrictions and are encouraged to consume as much fish from Alaska waters as they want. Those who are concerned about the mercury levels in certain fish species can minimize their risk by choosing fish lower in mercury, like smaller halibut and wild Alaska salmon.

The ADEC’s Fish Monitoring Program will continue to collect and test fish for environmental contaminants, and the consumption guidelines will be updated as needed. Begun in 2001, the program is an ongoing collaborative effort to collect and test Alaska fish for certain environmental contaminants. Partners include the Alaska Departments of Health and Social Services and Fish and Game, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the International Pacific Halibut Commission, and Alaska subsistence users and commercial fishermen.

Information on both the fish monitoring and human hair biomonitoring programs, as well as more comprehensive information for people who routinely eat more than two fish meals per week , is available online at http://www.epi.hss.state.ak.us and at http://www.dec.state.ak.us/eh/vet/fish.htm.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chitina Dip Net Permits Must Be Returned by Oct 15

From an ADFG News Release

The Chitina personal use dip net fishery closed for the season on September 30, 2007. The dipnetting permits are due back to ADF&G by October 15. These permits were for dipnetting in the Copper River downstream of the Chitina- McCarthy bridge, near the community of Chitina.

As a reminder, you are required to return your permit even if you did not fish, or even if you went fishing but didn’t catch anything. Continuing the Chitina personal use fishing opportunity largely relies on your compliance with requirements, and your cooperation is greatly appreciated. Failure to return any ADF&G permit is a violation and could result in a $200 fine and loss of future fishing privileges.

Please review the information you wrote down on the permit to make sure it is legible and correct. If no one in your household went dipnetting, please check the “Did Not Fish” box on the permit and return it.

Permits can be mailed to the Department with appropriate postage. For your convenience the address is printed on the back of the permit. Permits can also be delivered to your local ADF&G office during regular business hours.

If you have lost your permit, or if it is too damaged to go through the mail, please mail a letter that includes your name, mailing address, 2007 sport fishing license number, driver’s license number, and names of household members. Please provide a list of each time you went dipnetting, whether you dipnetted from a boat or from the shore, and the number of each type of salmon you kept. If you went dipnetting but did not catch any fish, include the date, whether you dipnetted from a boat or the shore, and write “zero.” The letter should be mailed to:

Alaska Department of Fish & Game
Chitina Salmon Permits
333 Raspberry Roaf
Anchorage AK 99518-1599

We are unable to accept dipnetting harvest records over the telephone.

More information on the fishery, including examples of how to fill out permits can be found on the Internet.

If you have any questions regarding the Chitina dipnetting fishery, please contact the ADF&G office in Glennallen at (907) 822-3309.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ruth Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery Update

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game would like to take this opportunity to inform the public of the progress on the Ruth Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery being built in downtown Fairbanks. During this past year a team of consultants and ADF&G staff, have been busy obtaining permits, finalizing a lease agreement, performing geotechnical borings, drilling a water well, defining the design of the facility and preparing contract documents and issuing a competitive advertisement for the Phase 1 site work. We accepted a bid for site preparation and that work will begin this summer. We anticipate the work of excavation, backfilling and compaction of this site to be completed by the fall of this year.

Meanwhile our team continues to work on the design of the overall hatchery facility. We recently completed the 30% design schematic and are now working on the 60% design level which we expect to complete at the end of September. The 90% plans have a scheduled completion date of January 2008. The final construction plans should be ready to bid by June 2008. The design process has been time consuming due to water treatment requirements and the complexity of this type of hatchery. The time spent now on design issues will reduce the number of changes and the associated cost escalations which frequently occur during construction.

Our schedule presently shows the hatchery being completed in August 2009 followed by ADF&G occupancy and startup of operations in the fall of 2009. This meets our stated goal of having the Ruth Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery operational by 2010. Additional information about this project and the Anchorage Sport Fish Hatchery Project can be found here. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact: Gordon Garcia, Division of Sport Fish, Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Juneau at 907-465-4235.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Knik Arm Coho Restricted to Catch & Release

From an ADFG News Release:

Beginning 12:01 a.m., Tuesday, September 4, 2007, anglers may not keep or possess coho salmon in the Knik Arm Management Area, excluding Fish Creek and the Eklutna Tailrace. The management area is described on pages 33-35 of the 2007 Southcentral Alaska sport fishing regulation booklet.

Popular coho salmon systems affected by this regulation in the Knik Arm area include the Little Susitna River, Wasilla Creek (Rabbit Slough), Cottonwood Creek, and Jim Creek. All other regulations will remain the same.

The 2007 return of coho salmon to most of the Knik Arm Management Area streams appears to be below average. Both commercial and recreational catch rates have been below average as well. As of August 29, only 3,098 coho salmon have passed the Little Susitna weir. Based on these weir counts and on a survey of fish below the weir, the Department is projecting a total escapement of 7,746 coho salmon, well below the escapement goal range of 10,100 to 17,700 fish.

Fish Creek and the Eklutna Tailrace are excluded from this restriction. Sport catches and weir information on Fish Creek indicate that this 2007 coho salmon return is above average. The Eklutna Tailrace is a stocked coho fishery.

Susitna Landing Renovated

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Sport Fish Access Program recently completed a boating access improvement project at Susitna Landing, which was funded through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program. The facility received many new improvements providing easier and safer public access to the facility for shore angling and recreational boating opportunities within the Susitna River drainages.

The facility improvements include riverbank restoration/stabilization in the form of riprap, cobbles, bank access stairways, and vegetation; completion of three camping loops and new electrical RV hook-ups within two of the loops; road improvements and overflow parking; a concrete vaulted toilet, and a shower building; picnic tables, fire rings, landscaping, fencing, manual and electric gates, and a new septic system.

The Susitna Boat Launch is located near the confluence of the Kashwitna and Susitna rivers, one mile down Susitna Landing Road, at Mile 82.4 of the George Parks Highway, The boat launch facility is owned by Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish. However, private, state-contracted on-site concessionaires Ron and Marilyn Wilson operate and manage the facility. There are fixed fees for parking, camping and boat launching.

Pullen Creek Open for Kings in SE Alaska

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today that effective at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, August 25, the closure of salt water near the mouth of Pullen Creek has been rescinded and Pullen Creek in Skagway will be open to sport fishing for king salmon. In Pullen Creek, the bag and possession limit is ten king salmon of any size, bait is allowed, and the nonresident annual limit for king salmon does not apply to king salmon caught in Pullen Creek. This regulation will remain in effect through September 14, 2007.

This additional opportunity is being provided to allow harvest of hatchery-produced king salmon that have returned to Pullen Creek in numbers exceeding broodstock needs.

Anglers are reminded that snagging is prohibited in fresh water. Fish that are hooked anywhere other than in the mouth must be released immediately.

In addition, the closure of salt water near the mouth of Pullen Creek has been rescinded effective at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, August 25. All salt water in Taiya Inlet is open to sport fishing, subject to Southeast Alaska regional bag, possession, and annual limits.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Upper Kenai Subsistence Fishery "Quiet"

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the first Upper Kenai River subsistence fishery authorized by the Federal Subsistence Board was "fairly quiet." 108 Ninilchik area residents received permits and only 410 sockeye were harvested.

A number of factors may have contributed to the less-than-expected harvest, including confusion about the new opportunity, difficulty of access, smaller salmon runs, and some opportunities closer to home.

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory Board Members Sought

From an ADNR News Release:

The Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory Board is recruiting for up to four new board members to serve as public member representatives on this board. The KRSMA Board is a 17 member Advisory Board comprised of 9 members representing a broad spectrum of public interests, and 8 members representing various state or federal agencies or local government. Incumbent board members whose terms are expiring this year may also indicate their desire to continue on the board and may be reappointed.

The KRSMA Advisory Board meets monthly except for the summer months and advises the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources on issues related to the management of the Kenai River Special Management Area. The Board will be working on the continuing implementation of the recommendations in the Kenai River Comprehensive Management Plan. Some of the special projects that the Board will be addressing over the coming year include reviewing the most recent boat wake study that evaluated wakes produced by different types of boats with different passenger loading, direction of travel, planning or plowing and multiple boat wake effects. In addition, the board will be pursuing recommendations made earlier this year regarding horsepower restrictions and recreational user education.

Landowners, sport or commercial fishermen, recreational boaters or others interested in Kenai River habitat, fish or wildlife resources or recreation issues are urged to apply for a position on the Board. Persons interested in being considered are encouraged to contact Alaska State Parks at 262-5581 or the Kenai River Center at 260-4882 to pick up an advisory Board application. Applications are due October 1, 2007.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bear / Angler Encounters Down at Russian River

Encounters of the worst kind between anglers and bears at the popular Russian River fishery are down this year, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
"The bears and most of the people crowding the Russian River during the summer sockeye runs have been behaving themselves, living a relatively peaceful coexistence, officials and anglers say."
An aggressive plan that included dye-marking problem bears has not resulted in any colored bears, because the only candidates were a sow and cubs, and biologists decided not to mark the bear.

A smaller, later fish run and increased enforcement of new rules may also be contributing to reduced tensions, the paper reported.

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Friday, August 17, 2007

Return Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use Permits

From an ADFG News Release:

August 15 was the deadline to return 2007 Upper Cook Inlet personal use salmon permits to the Department of Fish and Game. These are the permits for dipnetting at the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, and for set gillnetting at the Kasilof River.

You are required to return the permit, even if you did not fish, or even if you fished but did not catch anything. Compliance with the permit requirements is important to the future management of the Upper Cook Inlet personal use fisheries and your cooperation is greatly appreciated. Failure to return an ADF&G personal use fishery permit is a violation and could result in a $200 fine and loss of future privileges. If you return your permit immediately no action will be taken

Please review information you wrote down on the permit to make sure it is legible and correct. If no one went personal use fishing, please check the box “Did not Fish” on the permit and return it.

Permits can be mailed to the Department with appropriate postage. For your convenience the address is printed on the back of the permit. Permits can also be delivered to your local ADF&G office during regular business hours.

—MORE—

If you’ve lost your permit, or if it’s too damaged to go through the mail, please mail a letter that includes your name, mailing address, 2007 sport fishing license number, driver’s license number and names of the household members. Please provide a list of each time you went dipnetting/gillnetting, where you went, the date you fished and the number fish by species you kept, including flounder. If you went dipnetting but did not catch any fish, include the dates and locations, and write “zero.” The letter should be mailed to:

Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Personal Use Salmon Permits
333 Raspberry Road
Anchorage, Alaska 99518-1599

For any questions, contact the Anchorage Sport Fish Information Center at (907) 267-2218 or Kristine Dunker, Fisheries Biologist in Anchorage at (907) 267-2889.

Kids-Only Fishing Day at the Homer Spit, Sat Aug 18

From an ADFG News Release:

A portion of the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon will be open to fishing only by kids 15 years of age and younger on Saturday, August 18, from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. The youth-only fishing area will be posted. Fishing will be open to anglers of all ages in the remainder of the Fishing Lagoon.

ADF&G staff will be on hand from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to show kids how to set up fishing gear. Some fishing gear will be available for kids to use.

All other sport fishing regulations remain in effect for the Fishing Lagoon. The daily bag and possession limit is 6 coho salmon of any size. The lagoon area is closed to snagging until further notice.

Kids-only fisheries were established by the Alaska State Legislature and implemented by the Alaska Board of Fisheries to provide special opportunity for young people to catch fish. This is the final Kid’s Fishing Day at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon in 2007.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Access Restored at Situk River Lower Landing

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish recently purchased a public access site along the Lower Situk River about 10 miles southeast of Yakutat. The purchase was funded through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program and Fish and Game funds which secures public access to the Lower Situk River.

The parcel is approximately 0.8 acres in size and includes a gravel road, parking area, boat launch, and vault latrine. The site is located where the Lost River Road terminates at the Situk River. The parcel was formerly a portion of the Setuk Harry Native Allotment.

The State would like to express appreciation to the owners of the adjoining allotment, the heirs of Maggie John, for allowing public access to the Situk River during the land acquisition. As a result of the new river access, the public is reminded to now turn right at the “Strawberry Point” sign near the end of the Lost River Road to continue on to the Situk River Landing.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Susitna Sockeye Catch & Release Only August 11

From an ADFG News Release:

Beginning Saturday, August 11, at 12:01 a.m., anglers may not keep or possess sockeye (red) salmon in the entire Susitna River drainage, which is described as Susitna River Units 1-6 on page 23 of the 2007 Southcentral Alaska sport fishing regulation booklet.

Popular sockeye salmon systems in the Susitna River drainage include Larson Creek (Talkeetna River drainage); the Talachulitna River; and Hewitt, Lake, and Shell creeks.

Sockeye salmon escapement for the Susitna River drainage, as measured by the Yentna River sonar project, is approximately 60,613 through August 6. The Yentna River accounts for approximately 50% of the entire Susitna River drainage sockeye salmon return. On average, approximately 95% of the escapement has passed the sonar by August 6. At this time the total sockeye salmon escapement is projected to be approximately 63,573 fish, well below the escapement goal range of 90,000 to 160,000 fish. Therefore, it is warranted to prohibit the retention of sockeye salmon while sport fishing in Susitna River drainages.

Beyond BOW Gulkana River Raft/Fish/Camp Trip

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game in cooperation with the Hunter Heritage Foundation of Alaska is hosting a Beyond Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) Gulkana River Raft/Fish/Camp Trip from August 23 through August 26. The trip begins at Paxson Lake and ends at Sourdough. Trip fee is $650.

This is a 4-day/3-night full-participation raft trip with licensed fishing guides. Participants will have hands-on instructional experience rowing the raft. Participants will set up & tear down their own campsite and prepare their own food. Plan to fish for rainbow trout (catch & release only), Arctic grayling, and sockeye salmon. Spin and fly fishing gear will be provided as well as instruction if needed.

For more information and to download registration materials, go to the BOW website and click on “Gulkana River Raft/Fish/Camp Trip.”

Visit the website and contact Nancy Sisinyak (907-459-7346) with any questions.

Eshamy Creek Lagoon / Drainage Closed to Sockeye Keeping August 10

From an ADFG News Release:

Beginning Friday, August 10, anglers may not keep or possess sockeye (red) salmon in the salt waters of Eshamy Lagoon (Editor: Prince William Sound) inside ADF&G markers, as well as in the entire fresh waters of the Eshamy Creek drainage. All sockeye salmon accidentally caught while fishing for other fish must be released without removing them from the water.

The daily limit for salmon (other than king and sockeye salmon) remains 6 per day and 12 in possession, of which only 3 per day and 3 in possession may be coho (silver) salmon.

The escapement of sockeye salmon past the Eshamy Creek weir is well behind the normal count for this date. By this date, the escapement averages 8,722 sockeye salmon, but is now only 1,779, with only small schools of sockeye observed in the lagoon. Low rainfall may further hamper adequate escapement. In order to ensure that the escapement goal of 20,000 to 40,000 sockeye salmon can be met, further sport fishing harvest must be curtailed. Sockeye salmon fishing will be re-opened if the escapement can be projected to exceed 20,000 fish.

Eshamy Creek Lagoon / Drainage Closed to Sockeye Keeping August 10

From an ADFG News Release:

Beginning Friday, August 10, anglers may not keep or possess sockeye (red) salmon in the salt waters of Eshamy Lagoon (Editor: Prince William Sound) inside ADF&G markers, as well as in the entire fresh waters of the Eshamy Creek drainage. All sockeye salmon accidentally caught while fishing for other fish must be released without removing them from the water.

The daily limit for salmon (other than king and sockeye salmon) remains 6 per day and 12 in possession, of which only 3 per day and 3 in possession may be coho (silver) salmon.

The escapement of sockeye salmon past the Eshamy Creek weir is well behind the normal count for this date. By this date, the escapement averages 8,722 sockeye salmon, but is now only 1,779, with only small schools of sockeye observed in the lagoon. Low rainfall may further hamper adequate escapement. In order to ensure that the escapement goal of 20,000 to 40,000 sockeye salmon can be met, further sport fishing harvest must be curtailed. Sockeye salmon fishing will be re-opened if the escapement can be projected to exceed 20,000 fish.

Swanton Appointed Alaska Director of Sport Fish

From an ADFG News Release:

Commissioner Denby Lloyd today announced the appointment of Charlie Swanton as Director of the Division of Sport Fish for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). Currently, Swanton is the Southeast Regional Supervisor for Sport Fish with the Department.

“Charlie brings a wide range of experience and knowledge to the Director’s job,” said Commissioner Lloyd in announcing the appointment. “He has worked all over Alaska, and he’s dedicated and enthusiastic about creating sport fishing opportunities for all Alaskans.”

Swanton earned degrees from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the University of Washington. He began his career with ADF&G in various research positions with the Division of Commercial Fisheries, but more recently has been the regional management supervisor and Southeast Regional Supervisor with the Division of Sport Fish. Charlie’s career has given him exposure to fisheries in the Chignik and Kodiak areas, throughout the broad Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region based out of Fairbanks, and in Southeast Alaska.

“I’m extremely pleased that Charlie agreed to bring his skills and intelligence to this important position,” Lloyd said. Swanton’s first official day as Sport Fish Director will be August 13th.

Swanton replaces outgoing Sport Fish Director Kelly Hepler, who served in that role for seven years. Hepler leaves the job after a distinguished 28-year career at ADF&G.

The Division of Sport Fish is responsible for fisheries stock assessment and management, development of public access for sport fishing and boating, hatcheries, and planning, information and education services. The division employs more than 400 full-time and seasonal employees and has an annual budget of more than $40 million.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Homer Fishing Lagoon Openings and Education Opportunities

From an ADFG News Release:

A portion of the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon, formerly called the Homer Spit Fishin’ Hole, will be open to fishing only by youths 15 years of age and younger on Saturday, August 4, from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. The youth-only fishing area will be posted. The remainder of the Fishing Lagoon will be open to fishing to anglers of any age.

The ADF&G Mobile Aquatic classroom, Fish and Game staff, and volunteers will be on hand from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. to conduct free educational activities and to assist kids. Activities will include how to set up fishing gear, how to tie fishing knots, and how to identify adult and juvenile fish, as well as catch-and-release demonstrations and more. Fishing gear will be available for kids to use. Frameable photos of kids with their catch will be provided upon request.

All other sport fishing regulations remain in effect for the Fishing Lagoon. The daily bag and possession limit is 6 silver salmon of any size. The lagoon area is closed to snagging until further notice.

Youth fisheries were established by the Alaska State Legislature and implemented by the Alaska Board of Fisheries to provide special opportunity for young people to catch fish. The final Youth Fishing Day at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon in 2007 will be Saturday, August 18.

Boaters Alerted to Fish Wheels on Kenai River

From an ADFG News Release

The Division of Sport Fish will operate two fish wheels in the Kenai River near river mile 28, about one mile upstream of the Moose Range Meadows boat launch at the end of Keystone Drive. The wheels will be in place through October 5.

The fish wheels are located on both banks of the river, and are tethered to the river banks with partially submerged lines up to 200 feet long. The lines are marked with orange floating buoys and may extend out from the shoreline up to 30 feet. Anglers and boaters should be alert and use extreme caution in this area.

The fish wheels are used to capture coho (silver) salmon for a research project.

There are also weir structures installed in the river, in order to direct fish to the fish wheels. By regulation, waters within 300 feet of a fish weir are closed to sport fishing, including catch-and-release. The section of river closed to fishing is designated by ADF&G markers on each river bank.

To avoid the equipment and anchoring lines, boaters and anglers should stay in the middle of the river channel near river mile 28.

Afognak River Re-opens for Sockeye

From an ADFG News Release:

Effective Thursday, August 2, the Afognak River drainage and adjacent salt waters will re-open to fishing for sockeye (red) salmon.

As of July 30, the sockeye salmon weir count of 19,561 fish indicates that the escapement goal of 20,000 – 50,000 into the Afognak River drainage will be achieved, thus the sport fishery can be reopened.

The re-opened area includes all fresh waters of the Afognak River drainage, as well as those salt waters of Afognak Bay inside of a line from Settlement Point (58°03.00 N lat., 152°43.70’ W long.) to Otrubistoi Point (58° 02.00’ N lat., 152° 45.50’ W long.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Comments invited on proposed changes to Federal subsistence fisheries regulations

From a USFWS News Release:

The Federal Subsistence Board is accepting written comments through August 13, 2007 on proposed changes to Federal subsistence fisheries regulations. These proposed changes would affect existing Federal subsistence seasons, harvest limits, methods for the taking of fish and shellfish, and customary and traditional use determinations for the regulatory year beginning April 1, 2008.

Copies of the proposal book can be found online or by contacting the Office of Subsistence Management at (800) 478-1456 or (907) 786-3888.

Comments should reference the proposal number and should be sent to Theo Matuskowitz by e-mail at subsistence@fws.gov. Those without e-mail access can fax comments to (907) 786-3898 or mail them to:

Federal Subsistence Board Attn: Theo Matuskowitz
Office of Subsistence Management
3601 C Street, Suite 1030
Anchorage, AK 99503

All comments received by August 13, 2007 will be included in the meeting materials for the appropriate Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils to discuss at their fall meetings. In addition to written comments, the public is welcome to provide comments at the fall Regional Advisory Council meetings and at the Federal Subsistence Board meeting in Anchorage in December 2007.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Outsiders Decide Kenai River's Fate?

The Anchorage Daily News reports that some Kenai anglers are complaining that "they've lost the river to outsiders."

"A new organization, the Kenai Area Fisherman's Coalition, ran a half-page
attack ad in the Peninsula Clarion labeling the fishing event
[Ed: the Kenai River Classic] co-hosted
by Sen. Ted Stevens divisive and ultimately bad for the river. Members,
including former state biologists who managed the river, said paid access to
policymakers helps corporations and commercial guides, not fish or local
fishermen.

"There are a number of us who have been involved with state
or federal agencies that feel there's undue influence peddling," said Dave
Athons, a retired assistant area sportfish biologist with the Alaska Department
of Fish and Game. "The local fisherman has very little say.""
Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Unalakleet and Shaktoolik Closed for King Salmon

From an ADFG News Release:

The Division of Sport Fisheries has closed the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik river drainages to the retention or possession of king salmon, effective 12:01 A.M. Friday, July 6, 2007.

This Emergency Order prohibits the harvest of king salmon while sport fishing in these waters. In addition, this Emergency Order prohibits the use of bait in these drainages. This Emergency Order will remain in effect through August 15, 2007 or until additional in-season assessments suggest that escapement goals will be met for king salmon on the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik rivers.

Escapement counts of king salmon at the North River tower on the Unalakleet River are below historic averages. As of July 4th only 186 king salmon had passed the counting tower. From 2002 – 2006 an average of 430 king salmon had passed the counting tower by this date. According to the Unalakleet River King Salmon Management Plan, when the projected escapement is below the lower end of the escapement goal, all fishing will be closed. Although it is still early in the run, it appears that the escapement goal for king salmon will not be reached in 2007. This action is in alignment with the management plan.

The Department does not have a stock assessment project in the Shaktoolik River, but the king salmon run generally cycles in accordance with Unalakleet stocks. Unalakleet River test fishery indices are also below historic averages for this date. The elimination of sport harvests of king salmon in the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik rivers will provide protection for returning fish. The prohibition of bait while sport fishing is in accordance with provisions set forth in 5 AAC 75.003 (1)(A). This action should minimize catch-and-release mortality for king salmon incidentally caught while sport fishing for other species.

The Department will continue to evaluate in-season run strength and take appropriate management actions to ensure that escapement requirements are met. If in-season stock assessment information indicates that the king salmon escapement goal in the Unalakleet River will be met, restrictions will be relaxed.
Port Valdez Pink Limit Now 12

From an ADFG News Release:

The Port of Valdez pink salmon limits will increase to 12 salmon per day, with 24 in possession, effective 12:01 a.m., Friday, July 6, 2007. The increased bag and possession limits are effective for all marine waters north of line from Entrance Point to Potato Point (Valdez Narrows). Fresh water salmon closures remain in effect for Port Valdez.

Pink salmon returns to the Valdez Fisheries Development Association (VFDA) hatchery at Solomon Gulch are far above anticipated. As of July 5, commercial fishing periods in the Eastern District have harvested 4,000,000 pink salmon in an effort to harvest hatchery surplus. Cost recovery efforts at the hatchery are 65% complete while average run timing for this date is only 33% complete. Aerial surveys of the Eastern District yielded stream and stream mouth counts for chum and pink salmon at anticipated levels thus, the increased bag limits will not result in concerns for these wild stocks.

This strong return of pink salmon should provide anglers with a great opportunity to get out and catch some fish. Unlike many other Prince William Sound saltwater salmon fisheries, Valdez has many areas where shore anglers can cast for pinks, especially by the harbor and around Allison Point as well.

Nushagak/Mulchatna King Limits Reduced

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is reducing the daily bag and possession limits for king salmon 20 inches or greater in length from two per day, only one over 28 inches in length, to one per day and one in possession. This Emergency Order applies to all waters of the Nushagak-Mulchatna drainage, and is effective as of 12:01 a.m., Saturday, July 7, 2007.

The limits for king salmon less than 20 inches in length remain at 5 per day and 5 in possession.

This restriction is made in accordance with 5 AAC 06.361, the “Nushagak/Mulchatna King Salmon Management Plan,” adopted by the Alaska Board of Fisheries. The plan directs ADF&G to reduce the limits for king salmon 20 inches or greater in length from two to one if the total inriver return is fewer than 75,000 fish, in order to prevent the sport fishery from exceeding the guideline harvest level of 5,000 fish.

Through July 4, only 46,407 king salmon are estimated to have passed the sonar at Portage Creek. Based on this passage, the projection for the total inriver return is for fewer than 75,000 fish.

For more information call the ADF&G Dillingham area office at (907) 842-2427 or the Dillingham Sport Fish regulation telephone hotline at 907-842-REGS (842-7347).

Bag and Possession at Sitka's Redoubt Lake, Bay Now Six Reds

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that starting Saturday, July 7, 2007 the sport fish bag and possession limit at Redoubt Bay and Lake near Sitka will be six sockeye salmon.

The Redoubt Bay and Lake Sockeye Salmon Management Plan provides management provisions for sport, subsistence, and commercial fisheries that harvest Redoubt Lake sockeye salmon based on an optimal escapement goal of 7,000 to 25,000 fish. The plan directs ADF&G to establish a bag and possession limit of 6 sockeye salmon in Redoubt Bay and the Redoubt Lake drainage if the projected total escapement is greater than 30,000 sockeye salmon. The Redoubt Lake weir, operated by the U.S. Forest Service was installed and operational by June 17, 2007. As of July 4, 2007, 4,531 sockeye salmon had passed the Redoubt weir. Based on previous years run timing, the 2007 escapement is expected to exceed 40,000 sockeye salmon. Therefore, the department is establishing a bag and possession limit of 6 sockeye salmon for all sport anglers.

Snagging by nonresidents will remain prohibited in all waters of Redoubt Bay south of 56° 54.71’ N. latitude (see attached map) from July 7 through August 31. Other management measures will be implemented for the Redoubt Lake and Bay subsistence fishery and announced via a separate news release.

Bay of Pillars Opened to Sockeye Fishing

From a USFS News Release:

The Federal Subsistence Board has rescinded the closure of the harvest of sockeye salmon in drainages flowing into the Bay of Pillars to non-federally qualified users for the 2007 season.

The restriction on non-federally qualified users has been in place since the 2001 season and was initiated to protect the health of the sockeye salmon resource and for the continuation of subsistence uses.

During the past five years, population assessment studies have been conducted on the major sockeye spawning stock in the Bay of Pillars, Kutlaku Lake. There is consensus that the stock of sockeye salmon is healthy and the closure to non-federally qualified users is no longer necessary.

A proposal to remove the closure permanently has been jointly submitted by the Organized Village of Kake and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The public is invited to contact the Office of Subsistence Management to comment on this proposal.

For additional information, please contact Robert Larson or Chris Savage at (907) 772-3871 or the Office of Subsistence Management toll-free at (800) 478-1456 or (907) 786-3888. Additional information on the Federal Subsistence Management Program can be found on the web at http://alaska.fws.gov/asm/home.html.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Snagged Kings Legal at Blind Slough Near Petersburg

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish announced that anglers may retain king salmon hooked other than in the mouth in portions of Blind Slough, from June 29 through July 15. The open waters include those waters of Blind Slough downstream of a line between department markers located approximately 100 yards upstream from the end of the access trail to Blind River rapids. This area is part of the Wrangell Narrows-Blind Slough Terminal Harvest Area, and all other regulations will remain in effect. This includes the sport fishing bag and possession limits, currently four king salmon 28 inches or greater in length and four king salmon less than 28 inches in length, as well as other posted regulations such as allowable gear. King salmon caught by nonresident anglers in the terminal harvest area during this period will not count toward the nonresident annual limit.

Anyone needing further information concerning this announcement can contact the Division of Sport Fish, in Petersburg at (907) 772-5231.

Coghill River Red Limits Increased

From an ADFG News Release:

In response to a higher-than-expected escapement, the Coghill River sockeye (red) salmon sport fishing bag limit increased to 12 sockeye salmon per day and 24 in possession on 12:01 a.m., Wednesday, July 4, 2007, for the rest of the season. In addition, the closed area around the Coghill River weir will be reduced from 300 feet to 50 feet.

With the sockeye salmon run only about 31% complete, over 18,000 fish have passed through the weir. Typically by this time, only 7,500 fish pass through the weir. The escapement goal range is 20,000 – 40,000 fish, and at present rate of escapement, the run size would exceed 59,000, thus the increased bag limit.

The Coghill River is in western Prince William Sound, 40 nautical miles from Whittier and 85 nautical miles from Valdez. Anglers can fly into Coghill Lake and walk the short distance to the weir area and some of the better salmon holes. Boaters can anchor near the Coghill River inlet, use small skiffs to access the beach, then hike the two miles to the weir area.

Drifting flies under a small sinker seems to be the best method to get sockeye salmon to bite. Anglers have been using both fly rods and spinning gear.

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop Kodiak Registration Open

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will host a “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” workshop August 11 - 12, 2007, at the United States Coast Guard Base near Kodiak.

The “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” program is designed to help introduce people to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. All classes are taught at the beginning level, and no experience is needed. Over 19 hands-on sessions are scheduled, including firearms safety, intro to hunting, shotgun and rifle, archery, fly fishing, spin fishing, lake and river fishing, field dressing of fish and game, fish canning and smoking, map and compass, GPS, camping 101, campfire Dutch oven, kayaking, ATV, and boating.

The fee is $125 for applications postmarked by July 31, and $150 after July 31, check, money order, Master Card or Visa only. The fee includes instruction, program materials, equipment use, lunches and snacks.

Ayakulik Drainage Re-Opens for Kings

From an ADFG News Release:

As of July 2, 2007, the Ayakulik River drainage has been re-opened to fishing for king salmon. Limits for king salmon will return to the previous limits of 10 per day and 10 in possession for king salmon under 20 inches in length; for king salmon 20 inches or greater in length the limit is three per day and three in possession, only two of which may be over 28 inches in length. The use of bait will also be permitted in the Ayakulik River drainage.

As of 8:00 p.m. July 1, the weir count for king salmon was 4,832 fish. The unexpected strong showing of king salmon late in the return puts escapement estimates over the lower end of the escapement goal and justifies reopening the Ayakulik River drainage to sport fishing for king salmon.

This emergency order does not affect sport fishing for sockeye (red) salmon in the Ayakulik River drainage, which remains closed. It also does not affect the Karluk River drainage, which continues to remain closed to sport fishing for king salmon and to the use of bait. The regulatory spawning ground closure for king salmon, which closes sport fishing for king salmon from July 26 – December 31 each year, also remains in effect.

Homer Spit Snagging Open July 5-8

From an ADFG News Release:

In order to help anglers harvest the remainder of the hatchery-produced king salmon, snagging will be permitted in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon area on the Homer Spit beginning at noon, Thursday, July 5, until midnight, Sunday, July 8.

All other regulations pertaining to this fishery remain in effect. These include the daily bag limit of two king salmon of any size. Because there is an annual limit of five king salmon 20 inches or longer, after harvesting a king salmon 20 inches or longer, the harvest must be recorded, in ink, immediately on the back of the license or on a harvest record card. A harvested fish counts toward the bag limit of the person originally hooking it.

After July 8, the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon will again be closed to snagging.

The Lagoon area includes the waters from the Homer City Dock (near the entrance to the Homer Boat Harbor) northwest along the east side of the Homer Spit to the department marker approximately 200 yards northwest of the entrance to the Lagoon, and out 300 feet from the shore.

Afognak River and Marine Waters Closed for Reds

From an ADFG News Release:

Effective Monday, July 2, the Afognak River drainage and adjacent salt waters closed to fishing for sockeye (red) salmon. Any sockeye salmon incidentally caught may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Sockeye salmon escapement in the Afognak River has been well behind the desired level throughout June. As of June 26, a total of 10,413 fish have been counted through the weir. The current weir count and average run timing information indicates that the minimum desired escapement of 20,000 sockeye salmon is not likely to be achieved by the end of the season. Sockeye salmon returns to the Afognak River have been weak in recent years and a closure is warranted in order to help rebuild local sockeye salmon stocks.

The area affected will include all fresh waters of the Afognak River drainage, as well as those salt waters of Afognak Bay inside of a line from Settlement Point (58°03.00 N lat., 152°43.70’ W long.) to Otrubistoi Point (58° 02.00’ N lat., 152° 45.50’ W long.)

Portion of Situk Closed for Reds; Bag & Possession Reduced

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that retention of sockeye salmon is prohibited upstream of a marker located approximately 100 yards downstream from the Situk River weir. Additionally, the bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon 16 inches or greater in length in the Situk River, downstream from this marker, will be reduced from 6 to 3 fish per day. These changes took effect at 12:01AM, on Sunday, July 1.

The Situk River drainage is managed for an optimum escapement goal of 50,000 sockeye salmon, with an escapement range of 30,000 to 70,000 spawners. The weir count through June 29 was 7,779 sockeye salmon, which is very near the lower escapement goal range for this date when 28% of the run is generally past the weir. Recent sockeye weir counts have declined and sport anglers have harvested a significant number of sockeye in the river above the weir, further reducing the number of sockeye reaching the spawning grounds.

As a result of the level of harvest in the upper river and escapement counts near the low end of the desired escapement range, the prohibition of sockeye salmon retention in the sport fishery (upstream of the weir) is necessary with a reduction in the bag and possession limit to achieve desired escapement levels. ADF&G staff will continue to monitor the situation and take additional management actions as necessary depending on future run strength.

For further information, anglers should call the Division of Sport Fish, Yakutat, at (907) 784-3222.

Akakulik Kings and Reds Closed

From an ADFG News Release:

The Ayakulik River king salmon and sockeye (red) salmon fisheries will close Wednesday, June 27, for the remainder of the year, due to low escapement. In addition, no bait will be allowed in the Ayakulik drainage from June 27, 2007 through July 31, 2007, in order to reduce mortality of accidentally-caught king salmon.

These same restrictions for Karluk River king salmon remain in effect.

As of June 24, the escapement in the Ayakulik River was 2,482 king salmon and 77,303 sockeye salmon. Using recent time of entry data, ADF&G is projecting that the spawning escapement goals on the Ayakulik River will not be achieved.

Ketchikan's Herring Cove Creek Open for Kings

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish announced that Herring Cove Creek will be open to sport fishing for king salmon from ADF&G regulatory markers located just downstream of the Herring Cove Bridge to ADF&G regulatory markers located approximately 300 yards downstream. These regulations are effective 12:01 A.M. June 28, 2007 through 11:59 P.M. July 31, 2007. The daily bag and possession limit for king salmon is 6 king salmon of any size. King salmon harvested in this freshwater terminal harvest area by nonresidents DO NOT COUNT toward the nonresident annual limit. Freshwater methods and means apply. Snagging is not permitted in freshwater.

The bag and possession limit for salmon, other than king salmon, 16 inches or greater in length, is two fish in combination, and for salmon, other than king salmon, less than 16 inches in length, is 10 fish in combination.

The Alaska Board of Fisheries authorized the department to use its emergency order authority to open terminal harvest areas to target Alaska hatchery king salmon. The area opened by this emergency order will allow anglers to target Alaska hatchery produced king salmon originating from Whitman Lake Hatchery. Projected returns to these facilities will greatly exceed broodstock needs, thus a surplus of hatchery fish are available for harvest by sport anglers.

Anyone needing information on this subject should call the Ketchikan ADF&G, Division of Sport Fish office at 225-2859.

SE Alaska Pinks, Chums May Be Used As Bait

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today that in the Southeast Alaska Regulatory Area, including Yakutat, pink and chum salmon taken in a sport fishery may be used as bait in a sport, personal use, or subsistence fishery effective 12:01 A.M. Sunday, July 1, 2007.

During their March 9-13, 2007 Statewide Finfish meeting, the Alaska Board of Fisheries adopted a regulation allowing the use of sport-caught pink and chum salmon as legal bait in sport, personal use, and subsistence fisheries in the Southeast Alaska regulatory area.

This new regulation does not change sport fishing bag and possession limits for pink and chum salmon. The bag limit for pink and chum salmon is six per each species with a possession limit of 12 for each species. Sport-caught pink and chum salmon used as bait are part of an anglers bag and possession limit.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Karluk Red Limits Up

From an ADFG News Release:

To provide additional sport fish harvest opportunity, bag and possession limits for sockeye salmon 20 inches or greater in length in the Karluk River drainage increased from 5 per day and 10 in possession to 10 per day and 20 in possession. This emergency order is effective beginning 12:01 a.m., Thursday, June 21 through 11:59 p.m., Sunday, July 15.

The escapement goal for the early return of sockeye salmon into the Karluk drainage is 100,000 to 210,000 fish. As of June 18, 178,000 sockeye salmon have been counted through the Karluk weir. Based on historic run timing, the upper end of the escapement goal will be exceeded in 2007.

The bag and possession limits for salmon species other than sockeye salmon and for sockeye salmon less than 20 inches are not affected by this emergency order.

Karluk Kings Close

From an ADFG News Release:

The Karluk River king salmon fishery closed Sunday, June 24 for the remainder of the year, due to low escapement. In addition, no bait will be allowed in the Karluk downstream of the Karluk Lake outlet from June 24, 2007 through July 31, 2007, in order to reduce mortality of accidentally-caught king salmon.

As of June 19, the king salmon escapement in the Karluk River was 841 fish, which is the lowest on record for this time of year. Using recent time of entry data, ADF&G is projecting that the spawning escapement goal of 3,600 – 7,300 king salmon will not be achieved.

Ketchikan Terminal Kings Open

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish announced today that the bag and possession limit for king salmon in two Ketchikan terminal sport fishery areas from June 15 through July 31, 2007 is 6 king salmon of any size. King salmon caught in the terminal harvest area by nonresidents DO NOT COUNT toward the nonresident annual limit. The Ketchikan terminal sport fishery areas are as follows (see area map):

In the waters of Nichols Passage north of the latitude of Driest Point; in Revillagigedo Channel north of the latitude of Harbor Point; in Tongass Narrows south of the latitude of Lewis Reef light, and Neets Bay east of the longitude of the easternmost tip of Bug Island.

The Alaska Board of Fisheries authorized the department to use its emergency order authority to open the terminal harvest areas to target Alaska hatchery king salmon. The areas opened by this emergency order will allow anglers to target on Alaska hatchery produced king salmon originating from four hatcheries (primarily Neets Bay, Deer Mountain, Whitman Lake, and Tamgas) in the Ketchikan area. Projected returns to these facilities will greatly exceed broodstock needs, thus a surplus of hatchery fish are available for harvest by local sport anglers.

Anglers cannot possess king salmon in excess of the harvest limits for the area where they are fishing. This includes any king salmon less than 28 inches harvested in the terminal area. Regulations prohibit the possession of king salmon less than 28 inches when fishing outside of designated terminal harvest areas. This also includes king salmon 28 inches or greater in length in excess of the bag and possession limit for the area fished.

Anyone needing information on this subject should call the Ketchikan ADF&G, Division of Sport Fish office at 225-2859.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

ADFG to Make New Sport Fishing Economic Impact Study

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has been tasked by the legislature with assessing how sport fishing impacts the Alaska economy, according to the Anchorage Daily News, and not everyone is pleased with the prospect.

"A statewide survey as comprehensive as what's envisioned hasn't been attempted in Alaska since one that used 1993 data, and the mere mention of it reopens tensions over how it might be used in policies that split fish between commercial fishermen and sportsmen."

Read the entire article on the Anchorage Daily News website >>>

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Busking River Sockeye Bag Increases

The bag and possession limit for Buskin River sockeye salmon 20 inches or longer increased from two per day to five per day and five in possession, effective Friday, June 15, through Sunday, July 15. The bag limit for sockeye salmon under 20 inches remains ten per day and ten in possession.

The escapement goal for sockeye salmon into Buskin Lake is a range of 8,000 to 13,000 fish. As of June 13, nearly 6,700 sockeye salmon have been counted through the Buskin weir and have entered Buskin Lake. Based on the past 10 year’s runs, projections indicate that 14,100 sockeye salmon could escape into Buskin Lake, which is above the upper end of the goal.

Russian River Sanctuary Area to Open Monday, June 18

From an ADFG News Release:

The Russian River Sanctuary will be open to sockeye (red) salmon sport fishing beginning 8:00 a.m., Monday, June 18. The daily bag and possession limit remains three (3) sockeye salmon.

The Sanctuary Area includes waters upstream from ADF&G regulatory markers located just downstream of the ferry crossing on the Kenai River to ADF&G regulatory markers located approximately 300 yards upstream of the public boat launch at Sportsman’s Landing (including the waters around the upstream end of the island near the Russian River mouth) and the Russian River from its mouth upstream 100 yards to ADF&G regulatory markers. There is a map of the area on page 53 of the 2007 Southcentral Alaska regulation booklet.

The Department has determined that the early-run sockeye salmon spawning escapement goal of 14,000 – 37,000 sockeye salmon will be achieved.

Anglers are reminded to chop their filleted red salmon fish carcasses into small pieces, and throw the pieces into deep, flowing waters. Please respect the riverbank restoration projects and stay on the established pathways in the Sanctuary Area, campground areas, and Russian River Ferry area.

ADFG Sampling Kenai River Angler Caught Kings thru July

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish will be sampling king (Chinook) salmon caught in the Kenai River sport fishery above the Soldotna Bridge for age, sex, length, and genetics. This sampling project will help estimate the harvest of king salmon in the Kenai River by sub-stock and run timing. A similar sampling program has been in place below the Soldotna Bridge for several years.

From June 19 through July 31, anglers fishing the Kenai River between the Soldotna Bridge and the Moose River, or between Bing’s Landing and the outlet of Skilak Lake, may be contacted on the water or at boat landing places by ADF&G staff. Staff would like to quickly measure the fish and take a small tissue sample from near the pelvic fin. This tissue sample can be used to determine the water of origin, whether it’s the mainstem of the Kenai River or one of its tributary streams.

The Division would greatly appreciate the cooperation of anglers in this effort.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bait Allowed for Kenai River Early Kings

From an ADFG News Release:

Due to sufficient numbers of early run king salmon entering the Kenai River, anglers may fish with bait from a point approximately 100 yards downstream of the confluence of the Moose and Kenai rivers, beginning 12:01 a.m., June 12, 2007.

All other Kenai River special provisions, methods and means, and bag and possession limits remain in effect. Anglers may use only one single-pointed hook. Anglers may keep only those king salmon that are less than 44 inches in length or that are 55 inches or greater in length. All other king salmon must be released immediately.

The “Kenai River and Kasilof River Early-Run King Salmon Management Plan” directs the Department to achieve a spawning escapement goal of 5,300-9,000 king salmon. The 2007 harvest has been low compared to previous years. The Department is currently projecting a total in-river run of early-run king salmon of approximately 12,000 to 17,000 fish and a spawning escapement in excess of the upper end of the escapement goal.

Under these circumstances, the management plan directs the Department to liberalize the fishery to increase the harvest of king salmon by allowing the use of bait in the mainstem of the Kenai River. The Emergency Order issued on June 11 will allow the use of bait in the Kenai River from a point 100 yards downstream of the confluence of the Kenai and Moose rivers, to the mouth of the Kenai River.

35 HP Limit on Kenai River Will Be Enforced in 2007: DNR

From an Alaska Department of Natural Resources News Release:

All power boaters operating in the Kenai River Special Management Area (KRSMA) in 2007 must still observe the 35 horsepower limit, as new regulations allowing larger engines will not apply until 2008, and state park rangers this summer will vigorously enforce the current 35 horsepower limit, officials in the Alaska State parks’ Kenai Area office said recently.

The recent announcement by Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin of regulatory changes in the allowable size of boats and motors, and the corresponding requirements that such engines be cleaner burning, does not relieve anyone of the obligation to observe the current 35 horsepower limit, said Jack Sinclair, the Kenai area superintendent for the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

The present 35 horsepower restriction will continue to be enforced on all waters of the Kenai River Special Management Area excluding Kenai and Skilak Lake and the area below the Kenai Lake Bridge to Mile 80.7 of the upper Kenai River, Sinclair said.

“People are reading the headlines and not the fine print, and that might lead to problems,” Sinclair cautioned. “Some people are assuming these regulation changes are going into effect immediately or sometime in 2007, but that is definitely not the case.”

Sinclair and the Kenai River Ranger staff are posting signs and posters at all the access points along the Kenai River, at the local visitor centers and at local boat dealers to remind power boaters that the 35 horsepower regulation will be strictly enforced for the 2007 season.

Rangers will patrol the river as in past years, and while the horsepower issue will not be the target of their patrols, any boat showing signs of excessive speed will be stopped and inspected. Any powerboat operator stopped in the course of other violations will be inspected for compliance with the 35 horsepower regulation.

“We’re hoping that boaters will take the time to read the signs and know the rules in effect for this year and avoid a citation,” Sinclair said. When they take effect, possibly not until late fall, the new regulations will require that:

  • As of Jan.1, 2008, boats operating in the KRSMA may use motors of up to and including 50 horsepower, but all motors larger than 35 horsepower must be either four-stroke or Direct Fuel Injected (DFI) two-stroke engines.
  • In 2008 and 2009, all power boaters operating in the KRSMA during the high-traffic month of July must use either four-stroke or DFI two-stroke engines.
  • By Jan. 1, 2010, all power boaters operating anywhere in the KRSMA, including Kenai or Skilak lakes must have either four-stroke or DFI two-stroke engines.
  • The horsepower limits will not apply to boaters in the Kenai or Skilak Lakes or for one mile downstream from the river’s Kenai Lake outlet, although the four-stroke or DFI two-stroke requirement will apply as of Jan. 1, 2008.
  • The regulations will impose a maximum boat size in the KRSMA of 21 feet long and 106 inches wide; however, those who own boats larger than that and can prove they owned them before the regulation change may apply for a permit to use the oversized boats until Dec. 31, 2009.
  • As of January 1, 2010, the boat size limit will apply to all powerboats in the KRSMA except on Kenai and Skilak lakes.
A full synopsis of the regulations for the Kenai River Special Management Area are available online at http://www.borough.kenai.ak.us/KenaiRiverCenter/Agencies/Parks/KRSMAregs.htm

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New Halibut Regs Posted for SE Alaska

From an ADFG News Release:

NOAA Fisheries issued new regulations for guided sport halibut fishing in Southeast Alaska. The new federal regulations keep the current sport fishing bag limit of two halibut per day but require that, if two fish are taken, at least one of them is no more than 32 inches long. To allow for efficient enforcement, NOAA also stipulated that all halibut harvested on charter vessels must be retained whole or with their head and tail as a single piece and the carcasses must be retained onboard until all the fillets are offloaded. The new regulations apply only to halibut harvested by anglers fishing from a vessel with a hired operator in International Pacific Halibut Commission Area 2C. The complete new regulations are posted at www.fakr.noaa.gov.

The new regulations became effective Friday June 1, 2007 and are designed to remain in place for the entire sport fishing halibut season which ends December 31, but may be superseded by charter halibut fishing management measures currently being considered by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The intent of the new regulations are to reduce halibut harvests (in pounds) by the guided sport charter vessel sector in Area 2C, while minimizing negative impacts to sport fishing clients and coastal communities. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates that the 32-inch maximum size restriction for one of two potential halibut taken by charter vessel clients could reduce the overall harvest in Area 2C by approximately 518,000 pounds (234.8 metric tons).

New State Regs Make 50 hp 4-strokes Legal on the Kenai River in 2008

New state regulations scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2008 will make 2-stroke 50 hp motors legal on the busy Kenai River. The current limit is 35 hp. The 50 hp limit is accompanied by a move away from 2-stroke engines which emit more pollutants.

The intention of the regulation is to make the river safer and cleaner to improve operator visibility by allowing boats to get up on step more quickly, and reduce pollutants from older engines.

Not everyone sees the regulation as beneficial. Read the Anchorage Daily News for more detail and this thread on the Alaska Fishing Forum.

An Alaska Department of Natural Resources news release has additional detail from the state perspective.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Anchorage's Ship Creek Infected with Whirling Disease?

While no Alaska fish have displayed clinical symptoms of whirling disease, testing earlier this winter by the ADF&G has confirmed the presence of the parasite that causes the "whirling" behavior, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The disease has dramatically reduced populations of trout in some parts of the Lower 48.

ADFG investigators detected the parasite using a sensitive DNA testing system in rainbow trout at the Elmendorf Hatchery....just upstream from the popular Ship Creek fishery in Anchorage.

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Some anglers on the Alaska Fishing Forum are calling for fishermen to take preventative steps.

The story was originally reported in an ADFG News Release:

After years of negative results from microscopic testing by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a new, much more sensitive molecular test based on DNA (called Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction or QPCR) has detected evidence of the parasite Myxobolus cerebralis (Mc) in some rainbow trout from Elmendorf State Fish Hatchery in Anchorage. However, there has been no evidence of the fish disease associated with this parasite, nor has any form of the parasite itself been observed in Alaska.

Sixty rainbow trout, divided into 12 groups, were tested by Oregon State University. Results were positive in one batch of 5 trout. A second test of 60 different individual fish confirmed the first test by finding 3 rainbow trout that had DNA from the parasite.

The Mc parasite causes “whirling disease” in rainbow trout and other members of the salmonid family. The heads of diseased fish may contain up to 2 - 3 million spores of Mc. The Elmendorf Hatchery rainbow trout samples contained an estimated 100 to 1,000 spores, a level too small to be detected with standard microscopic tests, and too small for the fish to show any signs of the disease. Using national standard methods for fish health certification, these fish would be considered free of Mc infection because of the absence of observable parasite spores from enzymatic digests or histologic sections of the head cartilage. Eating or handling fish that have any form of Mc poses no health risk to humans, pets, birds, or other non-salmon wildlife.

To date there is no evidence of the presence of the Mc parasite anywhere else in Alaska outside of Elmendorf Hatchery. There is no way of knowing whether the presence of Mc in the Elmendorf Hatchery dates from the last rainbow trout transferred there from the Lower 48 states about 30 years ago or is a new introduction into Ship Creek from sport fishing activities.

ADF&G has a rigorous fish disease policy, which would require the agency to depopulate the hatchery if there had been any evidence of clinical whirling disease or actual observation of any Mc parasite life stage. Although this has not happened, the Mc-positive QPCR results are confirmed. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, no fish of any species from Elmendorf State Fish Hatchery will be transplanted into an open watershed. Fish will only be stocked into lakes that have no inlet or outlet at any time of year (landlocked) and have no reproducing salmonid fish populations. As a result, over 94,000 hatchery fish that otherwise would have been destined for open watersheds will be transplanted into closed systems in 2007. King salmon will continue to be stocked in Anchorage’s Ship Creek, the most likely source of the parasite and because the stream has already received potentially contaminated discharge water from Elmendorf Hatchery. However, no Elmendorf Hatchery fish will be transferred to the Fort Richardson Hatchery. The stocking of open systems will resume when the state builds a new well-water-only hatchery near the existing Elmendorf facility in the next 4 -7 years which will eliminate the potential of introducing Mc from Ship Creek water.

The Department is planning to investigate populations of rainbow trout in selected high risk watersheds in Alaska using the new, more sensitive QPCR test in conjunction with other standard methods for the detection of Mc. Fish at the Elmendorf Hatchery will be closely monitored for clinical signs of whirling disease and visible life stages of the Mc parasite.

The Department urges everyone to remember that Alaska’s laws against moving fish among waterways are very strict. No live fish may be transported or released into the waters of the state, except with a special ADF&G permit. Alaskans are now especially cautioned not to move members of the salmonid family from one waterway to another. If fish are cleaned in the field, clean them only in the waters from which they were caught.

For more information on whirling disease, consult the Whirling Disease Foundation website, http://www.whirling-disease.org/. For more information on Alaska’s hatchery program, fish disease policy and invasive species, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game online at http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/, or contact Dr. Theodore Meyers, Chief Fisheries Pathologist in Juneau at (907) 465-3577.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

King Limits Increased in Wrangell Narrows / Blind Slough

From an ADFG News Release:

ADFG has announced an increase in the bag and possession limit for king salmon in the Wrangell Narrows-Blind Slough Terminal Harvest Area from June 1 through July 31. In this area, the sport fishing bag and possession limits for all anglers will be four king salmon 28 inches or greater in length and four king salmon less than 28 inches in length. The Wrangell Narrows-Blind Slough terminal harvest area near Petersburg is described as: that portion of Wrangell Narrows, south of 56O 46’ N. latitude (Martinsen’s dock) and east of the longitude, and north of the latitude, of the northern tip (Inlet Point) of Woewodski Island, and; the waters of Blind Slough upstream of a line between Blind Point and Anchor Point. King salmon caught by nonresident anglers in the terminal harvest area, June 1 – July 31, do not count toward the nonresident annual limit.

The increase in bag and possession limits are justified based on a projected run of Crystal Lake Hatchery king salmon under provisions in the Wrangell Narrows-Blind Slough Terminal Harvest Area Management Plan (5 AAC 33.381). This plan directs the department to increase the bag limit from June 1 through July 31 when the projected king salmon return to the terminal harvest area is greater than 4,000 fish. The 2007 estimated run is 5,500 king salmon. The nonresident annual limit is repealed in the terminal harvest area based on provisions in the Southeast King Salmon Management Plan (5 AAC 47.055).

Anglers are reminded to observe and follow regulations concerning methods and means for this local sport fishery, which are posted at area boat launches and at access points to Blind Slough. Anyone needing further information concerning this announcement can contact the Division of Sport Fish, in Petersburg at (907) 772-5231

Juneau Hatchery King Fishing Open

From ADFG News Releases:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced recently that king salmon sport fishing regulations for freshwater drainages crossed by the Juneau road system, which are open to sport fishing, and in the hatchery terminal harvest area (THA) near Juneau will be liberalized to provide recreational anglers additional opportunity to harvest surplus hatchery king salmon. The new regulations will be in effect from 12:01 A.M. Friday, June 1 through Friday, August 31, 2007.

The new regulations for both the freshwater area and the Juneau THA are as follows:
  • The daily bag and possession limit is 4 king salmon, no size limit.
  • King salmon harvested in these freshwater areas by nonresidents do not count toward their annual limit.
Only a few king salmon may stray into most streams on the Juneau road system.

However, the department expects that over 500 king salmon will enter Fish Creek on Douglas Island. Therefore, in Fish Creek Pond (see attached map), regulations that pertain to sport fishing methods and means will also be liberalized as follows:
  • The use bait is allowed.
  • The use of weighted hooks and lures, and multiple (treble) hooks with a gap greater than ½ inch between the point and shank is allowed.
  • Anglers may retain king salmon that are hooked elsewhere than in the mouth (snagged).
In the remaining fresh waters of Fish Creek and in all intertidal waters within a 200 yard radius of the creek mouth as shown on the enclosed map (excluding Fish Creek Pond), regional freshwater sport fishing methods and means will apply. In these freshwaters, the following is prohibited: the use of bait, weighted hooks and lures, treble hooks with a gap greater than ½ inch between point and shank, attempting to snag fish and retaining fish hooked elsewhere than in the mouth.

The department is authorized to liberalize sport fishing regulations in the Juneau THA when the number of king salmon returning to Macaulay Hatchery exceeds brood stock needs for the hatchery program.

Anglers cannot possess king salmon in excess of bag and possession limits for the area they are fishing and regulations prohibit the possession of king salmon less than 28 inches when fishing outside of the Juneau THA. Therefore, anglers possessing king salmon less than 28 inches caught in the Juneau THA, nonresident anglers possessing two king salmon, and resident anglers possessing four king salmon may not fish in areas outside of the THA while these fish are in their possession.

For additional information on this or any inseason regulations changes, anglers should contact the Division of Sport Fish office at (907) 465-4270, or visit the ADFG website.

Brown Shirts Coming Back

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has fulfilled a campaign pledge to restore the Alaska Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Her predecessor in the Governor's mansion, Frank Murkowski, had merged the fish and wildlife law enforcement function of the Department of Public Safety into the Division of State Troopers and tasked troopers with enforcing all laws. The move was widely criticized in the outdoors community where a substantial reduction in fish and wildlife enforcement efforts was predicted and observed.

The paper reported Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan as saying that "part of the problem with the merged departments was that officers who were supposed to be focused on wildlife were not able to devote enough attention to that aspect of their jobs because of their law enforcement obligations. The separation should help resolve that, he said.

"They'll still be doing some blue shirt work, but their primary focus is now back to wildlife enforcement, which is what they need to be (doing)," he said."

Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Saturday, May 26, 2007

King Limits Up in Wrangell Narrows / Blind Slough in SE Alaska

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish today announced an increase in the bag and possession limit for king salmon in the Wrangell Narrows-Blind Slough Terminal Harvest Area from June 1 through July 31. In this area, the sport fishing bag and possession limits for all anglers will be four king salmon 28 inches or greater in length and four king salmon less than 28 inches in length. The Wrangell Narrows-Blind Slough terminal harvest area near Petersburg is described as: that portion of Wrangell Narrows, south of 56O 46’ N. latitude (Martinsen’s dock) and east of the longitude, and north of the latitude, of the northern tip (Inlet Point) of Woewodski Island, and; the waters of Blind Slough upstream of a line between Blind Point and Anchor Point. King salmon caught by nonresident anglers in the terminal harvest area, June 1 – July 31, do not count toward the nonresident annual limit.

The increase in bag and possession limits are justified based on a projected run of Crystal Lake Hatchery king salmon under provisions in the Wrangell Narrows-Blind Slough Terminal Harvest Area Management Plan (5 AAC 33.381). This plan directs the department to increase the bag limit from June 1 through July 31 when the projected king salmon return to the terminal harvest area is greater than 4,000 fish. The 2007 estimated run is 5,500 king salmon. The nonresident annual limit is repealed in the terminal harvest area based on provisions in the Southeast King Salmon Management Plan (5 AAC 47.055).

Anglers are reminded to observe and follow regulations concerning methods and means for this local sport fishery, which are posted at area boat launches and at access points to Blind Slough. Anyone needing further information concerning this announcement can contact the Division of Sport Fish, in Petersburg at (907) 772-5231

Friday, May 25, 2007

King Limits Lowered on Karluk and Ayakulik Rivers June 1

From an ADFG News Release:

The biological escapement goal for king salmon was not achieved in either the Karluk or Ayakulik rivers during the 2006 season. The Department is anticipating a below-average return of king salmon to these two rivers again in 2007. In order to protect this fisheries resource, the king salmon daily bag and possession limits are being reduced preseason in the Karluk and Ayakulik rivers to one per day and in possession, regardless of size. The annual limit of 5 king salmon 20 inches or longer will remain unchanged and in effect for both rivers. Lowering the daily bag and possession limit will lower the sport harvest on below-average returns and help ensure that escapement objectives are met.

The Department will closely monitor returns through the weirs. The biological escapement goal for the Karluk and Ayakulik rivers is 3,600 – 7,300 and 4,800 – 9,600, respectively. Accurate end-of-season projections of escapement goal achievement can usually be made by June 20, and further restrictions or liberalizations of sport fishing harvest opportunities will be made at that time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sport Fish Division Tagging Ninilchik Kings

From an ADFG News Release:

The Division of Sport Fish will be using a beach seine to net and tag king salmon in the lower two miles of the Ninilchik River, one day each week, from May 15 to July 28, 2007. The goal of the tagging project is to help fishery managers estimate king salmon run timing, as well as the percentage of hatchery king salmon available for harvest.

Both wild and hatchery king salmon will be tagged. Biologists will place a numbered dark green plastic tube on the fish's back, near the left side of the top (dorsal) fin. All king salmon tagged will then be released.

If you catch a tagged king salmon, please make a note of the tag number and contact the Division of Sport Fish with the tag number, and the location and date of harvest. Please do not remove the tag from kings you release.

Deshka King Limit and Hours Increase

From an ADFG News Release:

The bag and possession limit for king salmon 20 inches or longer has been increased from one (1) per day two (2) in possession to two (2) per day four (4) in possession in that part of the Deshka River open to king salmon sport fishing. Also, fishing is allowed 24 hours-per-day. These changes go into effect 6:00 a.m., Friday, May 25, through 11:59 p.m., Friday, July 13, 2007.

The area affected by the increased bag and possession limit and fishing hours in the Deshka River is from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker near Chijuk Creek, and all waters of the Susitna River within a one-half mile radius of the Deshka River confluence. The Deshka River 300 ft. upstream and downstream of the ADF&G weir located at river mile 7 remains closed to all fishing.

King salmon returns to the Deshka River have been above the escapement goal range for the past eight years, and the 2007 king salmon return should also be well above the goal. The average Deshka River king salmon sport harvest is about 7,400 fish annually, and even with a 3,000 – 5,000 fish increase, the escapement should be within the middle to upper range of the escapement goal. All other regulations for the Deshka River remain in effect.

Troublemaking Russian River Bears to be Color Marked for ID

State and federal agencies have agreed on a plan to color mark troublemaking bears that frequent the Russian River area, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The plan is to chemically immobilize bears and dye their coats with bright color markings to allow managers and anglers to be able to identify specific bears. The point is to find out which bears cause trouble and which stay away from people.

The agencies are also promoting the "stop, chop and throw" to prevent bears from being habituated to finding easy to obtain food where anglers gut their fish.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Extra Day Added for Kasilof River Anglers

From an ADFG News Release dated 10 May 2007:

Beginning May 17, Thursday will be an additional day anglers may keep a naturally-produced king salmon, which is a fish that still has its adipose fin. Hatchery king salmon, which are fish that are missing their adipose fin, can be kept seven days per week.

This news release informs Kasilof River anglers that they may keep either a naturally-produced king salmon OR a hatchery king salmon on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays, beginning May 17.

All other king salmon regulations remain the same, including the daily limits of 1 per day/1 in possession. Kasilof River king salmon that are 20 inches or longer count toward the annual limit of five, and must be recorded immediately.

According to ADF&G weir count data, escapement of naturally-produced king salmon met the goal of 650-1,700 fish in 2006 while allowing anglers to harvest a naturally produced king salmon three days per week. In 2006, 1,516 naturally-produced king salmon were counted past the weir on Crooked Creek, a tributary of the Kasilof River. Escapement counts since 2003 indicate that by increasing by one the number of days per week that anglers may keep naturally-produced kings will not threaten the sustainability of early-run Kasilof River king salmon.

For more information, contact the ADF&G Division of Sport Fish Soldotna Area Office at (907) 262-9368.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sportsmen Outraged Over Subsistence Changes

The Anchorage Daily News reports that some sportsmen are outraged over the Federal Subsistence Board's action to award subsistence fishing rights to "rural residents" living in Ninilchik on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.

"I'm a little outraged about this whole process," Kenai Peninsula sportfisherman Les Palmer told the Federal Subsistence Board as it drafted salmon and trout rules on the second day of meetings in Anchorage. "I haven't heard a word of concern from the board on the impact on the current users of the Kenai and Kasilof rivers. There just seems to be no reluctance on your part to do this."

"The rules could allow residents of Ninilchik, Hope and Cooper Landing to dipnet or hook thousands of salmon from the Kenai drainage. They also let Cooper Landing and Hope residents take rainbow trout and Dolly Varden from the river."


Read the entire story in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Feds keep Ninilchik subsistence fishery ruling

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the Federal Subsistence Board on May 2nd rejected the State of Alaska's request to block a Kenai River subsistence fishery established the previous November.

"At issue was whether Ninilchik residents historically fished the stocks that return to the upper Kenai for spawning. In approving the fishery preference last November, board chairman Mike Fleagle said it was possible that even if Ninilchik residents didn't always fish in the upper Kenai they did fish in Cook Inlet for salmon that eventually returned to the stretch of river"

Read the entire article in the Anchorage Daily News >>>

Saturday, May 05, 2007

"Wild Weekends" Opening Soon on the Ninilchick

From an ADFG News Release:

The Ninilchik River will be open continuously for hatchery king salmon starting Memorial Day weekend.

An Emergency Order has been issued to open the Ninilchik River continuously to fishing for hatchery king salmon from Saturday, May 26, 12:01 a.m. (Memorial Day weekend) through Sunday, July 15 at 11:59 p.m. Bait will be allowed until September 1, but anglers can use only one single-pointed hook through July 15. The use of double or treble hooks may resume July 16 and continue until September 1.

The harvest of wild king salmon will be permitted only during the usual “wild weekend” openings, which are Memorial Day weekend, the next two weekends and the Mondays following those weekends. Outside these dates, only hatchery king salmon may be kept, and wild king salmon may not be retained or possessed. Hatchery fish can be recognized by their missing adipose fin and healed fin clip scar. King salmon intended for release may not be removed from the water.

The fishing area remains the same: from the river mouth upstream approximately 2 miles to the regulatory marker. Daily bag and possession limits for king salmon 20 inches or longer are 2 per day and 2 in possession, only 1 of which may be a wild king salmon. Daily limits for king salmon under 20 inches are 10 per day and in possession.

Any king salmon 20 inches or longer that is kept counts toward the annual limit of five and must be recorded immediately.

A person may not fillet, mutilate, or otherwise disfigure a king salmon in such a manner that prevents determination that the fish is a hatchery or wild fish until the person has stopped fishing in the Ninilchik River drainage for the day and has moved more than 100 yards away from the Ninilchik River.

Anglers will still be allowed to remove the gills and the guts from their Ninilchik River king salmon before removing the fish from the shoreline fishing site.

King salmon are stocked in the Ninilchik River to provide additional harvest opportunity for sport anglers while preventing overharvest of the wild king salmon that return to the river. Approximately 40 percent of the expected return of hatchery-produced king salmon continues to escape the fishery despite the liberal bag and possession limits.

For additional information contact Nicky Szarzi, Fisheries Biologist III, (907) 235-8191.

Small Section of Kenai River Closed

From an ADFG News Release:

300 feet above a smolt trap at River Mile 44.75 closed through June 25, 2007

This is the third year of three that the Division of Commercial Fisheries will operate red (sockeye) salmon smolt-counting equipment in the Kenai River immediately upstream of the confluence of the Upper Killey River, at River Mile 44.75.

Since floating smolt traps and sonar equipment will be anchored to the river bottom, waters within 300 feet upriver of the smolt traps are closed to sport fishing through June 25.

A mooring anchor with two buoys is located approximately 90 feet offshore of the north bank and 200 feet upriver of the smolt traps. A submerged steel cable runs from the buoys downriver to the smolt traps, and two more steel cables run directly from the smolt traps to the north bank. Additionally, a submerged steel cable runs from the north bank to the south bank on the river bottom near the smolt traps.

Anglers and boaters should use extreme caution in this area. To avoid the equipment and steel cables, boaters should stay on the south side of the river. If going downstream, stay in the left side of the river. If going upstream, stay in the right side of the river. Sport fishing gear drifted through this area will likely get snagged and lost on the equipment and cables located under the water.

For additional information contact Mark Willette, Fisheries Research Biologist, (907) 262-9368.

Yakutat Sport and Personal Use Dungeness Crab Closure

From an ADFG News Release:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today that sport and personal-use Dungeness crab fishing in the Yakutat area will be closed effective 12:01AM, Friday May 4, 2007.

The most recent surveys conducted by the Department indicate the Yakutat area Dungeness crab stocks are not rebuilding following the closure of the commercial fishery in 2000. Since 2005 the Dungeness crab sport fishery, in the Yakutat vicinity, has also been closed. State Wide Harvest Survey estimates of sport Dungeness crab harvest, prior to 2005, have also shown a declining trend in the Yakutat area Dungeness crab stocks. Because these indications suggest that the stock is not rebuilding, the sport and personal use fishery will continue to be closed in 2007. The subsistence fishery will remain open as managers monitor harvest in Yakutat Bay to determine if additional conservation measures are necessary.

For further information, anglers should call the Division of Sport Fish, Yakutat, at (907) 784-3222.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tagged Rainbows in Willow Creek and other Susitna Drainages

From an ADFG News Release:

The Division of Sport Fish is studying rainbow trout in Willow Creek, a tributary of the Susitna River about 30 miles north of Wasilla. Although Willow Creek supports a popular rainbow trout fishery, the number of trout spawning in Willow Creek is unknown. The goal of the study is to collect information to help the Division sustain the fishery through appropriate management.

Division personnel will be working weekdays on Willow Creek between the mouth and Shirleytown Bridge, and on Deception Creek. A numbered, green plastic tube will be placed near the left side of the dorsal (or top) fin. Tagging will take place May 15 to July 28, 2007.

Tagged rainbow trout may move to other tributaries of the Susitna River. Anyone catching a tagged rainbow trout is asked to note the tag number and contact the Division of Sport Fish with the number plus the location and date of capture. Please do not remove the tag from the fish.

For more information on the project, and to report tagged fish, contact Chris Brockman in the Division of Sport Fish Palmer Area Office at 907-746-6338

Minto Flats Pike Limits Reduced

From an ADFG News Release:

The sport fish daily bag and possession limit for northern pike in all lakes and flowing waters of the Minto Flats area (including the Chatanika and Tolovana rivers, and Minto Lakes) is decreased to 2 fish per day, only one of these fish may be 30 inches or more in total length.



This emergency order is effective from 12:01 A.M. Friday, June 1, 2007 through 11:59 P.M. October 14, 2007 (when the pike sport fish season is closed by regulation).

Over 750 fish were harvested in the Chatanika River subsistence pike fishery from January 1 through February 22, 2007, therefore this sport fish daily bag and possession limit reduction is mandated by the Minto Flats Northern Pike Management Plan (5 AAC 70.044).

Questions or comments are welcome and should be directed to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game – Division of Sport Fish, Fairbanks Regional Office, 907-459-7228.

C&R Only for Rainbows in Anchorage Chester and Campbell Creeks

From an ADFG News Release:

An Emergency Order has been issued to restrict Campbell and Chester creeks, including University Lake, to catch-and-release only for rainbow / steelhead trout. This restriction goes into effect Thursday, May 3, 2007, for the remainder of the year. Anglers may not keep rainbow / steelhead trout from these streams, or from University Lake, and must return rainbows to the water unharmed.

Bait is still allowed on Chester Creek, and in Campbell Creek downstream of the forks near Piper Street. This Emergency Order does not affect Anchorage area stocked lakes, where the rainbow trout bag limit currently remains 5 per day / 5 in possession, only 1 per day / 1 in possession 20 inches or longer. This Emergency Order also does not affect Arctic char / Dolly Varden in these streams.

In 2006, due to the loss of warm water at the state hatcheries, only one-third of the usual Anchorage area rainbow trout quantity was available for stocking. Campbell Creek, normally stocked with 3,000 rainbow trout, was stocked with only 1,525 rainbows, and Chester Creek received only 325 rainbows. And this year, due to pathology concerns at Elmendorf Hatchery, neither of these streams will be stocked with rainbow trout.

Campbell and Chester creeks are very popular summer fisheries, so this action has been taken to help ensure good fishing opportunities throughout the year, and to protect the native populations of rainbow trout that reside in both streams.

For more information on the pathology concern, see the news release posted on the ADFG website.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ice Houses Must Be Off the Lakes By April 30

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is reminding anglers that ice houses must be off the lakes and other water bodies by April 30. Warm weather is making ice travel unsafe.

Kenai Watershed Trout/Steelhead Spawning Closure

From an ADFG News Release:

Fishing for rainbow/steelhead trout, including catch-and-release, in the flowing waters of the lower Kenai River and in Skilak Lake is closed by regulation from May 2 – June 10, to protect spawning fish.

As a result, and to provide protection for these stocks, an Emergency Order was issued in 2006 to prohibit anglers from removing rainbow trout from the water during the spawning closure.

In order to continue to provide protection for Kenai River rainbow trout, ADF&G has again issued an Emergency Order that prohibits anglers from removing rainbow/steelhead trout from May 2 through June 10. This Emergency Order applies to the flowing waters of the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to Skilak Lake, and in Skilak Lake, except for the lake waters within a one-half mile radius of the Kenai River inlet. The lake waters within a one-half mile radius of the Kenai River inlet, and the rest of the upper river, are closed by regulation to all fishing from May 2 to June 11, again, to protect spawning rainbow/steelhead trout.

Prohibiting anglers from removing rainbow trout from the water during the spawning closure will reduce mortality of these incidentally-caught trout, during the time when spawning fish may be more susceptible to handling mortality.

Other streams on the Kenai Peninsula, such as the Kasilof River and the Anchor River, have a similar regulation.

To avoid accidentally catching spawning rainbows, anglers fishing for Dolly Varden should fish downstream of spawning trout where the Dolly Varden tend to hold and feed on drifting eggs.

For additional information contact Larry Marsh, Assistant Area Management Staff Biologist, (907) 262-9368.

Kenai Kings No Fillet Rule

From an ADFG News Release:

This Emergency Order applies to all Kenai River king salmon harvested, regardless of size.

Anglers may not fillet, mutilate, remove the head, or otherwise disfigure a Kenai River king salmon in such a manner that would prevent determination of the length of fish. Anglers may fillet king salmon after the fish are offloaded from the vessel or removed from the shoreline fishing site. “Shoreline fishing site” means the point on the shoreline where the fish is hooked and removed from the water, at which time it becomes part of the angler’s bag limit.

This regulation becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, May 1, and remains in effect through 11:59 p.m., Saturday, July 14, 2007.

Anglers will still be allowed to remove the gills and guts from their Kenai River king salmon before offloading from a vessel or removing the fish from the shoreline fishing site.

By regulation, the Kasilof River also has the no-fillet requirement.

The Board of Fisheries authorized the Department to issue this type of Emergency Order for the purpose of enforcement of bag and size limits. Department of Fish and Game personnel and other resource agency staff will enforce this regulation, and anglers who disregard this requirement will be subject to a citation.

For additional information contact Larry Marsh, Assistant Area Management Staff Biologist, (907) 262-9368.