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.