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.