PALMER — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Sport Fish released a series of significant restrictions for the upcoming king salmon fishing season. But by taking extreme measures now, Fish and Game officials hope the effort leads to a positive impact in the future.
Details of the plan, which include area-wide gear restrictions and changes to the local fishing calendar, have been fine-tuned for months, sport fish area biologist Sam Ivey said.
“We’ve been working throughout the winter on a comprehensive management plan for king salmon,” Ivey said.
Ivey said a number of factors were taken into consideration when constructing the plan. A primary goal was to give anglers as much of a season as possible, with the opportunity to harvest king salmon, while allowing the department to meet its escapement goals. Ivey said they also want to reduce the potential for midseason closures.
According to information released by the department, restrictions for sport fishing in the Susitna River drainages and Knik Arm drainages include:
• Area-wide annual limit of two king salmon, except the Eklutna Tailrace.
• Area-wide restrictions on gear; unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures only, except for the lower Deshka River and Eklutna Tailrace. Single-hook refers to a fishhook with only one point.
• The Little Susitna River will be further restricted by allowing harvest on Friday-Monday only; catch-and-release fishing for king salmon will be allowed Tuesday-Thursday.
• Parks Highway streams within Unit 2 of the Susitna River will be further restricted to prohibit the harvest of king salmon beginning June 12 through the remainder of the fishing season. Catch-and-release fishing will be allowed during the three-day weekends (Saturday-Monday) beginning June 16 through July 2. Fishing for any species of fish will be closed Tuesday-Friday beginning June 12.
Ivey said these are some of the most significant measures taken recently.
“We’re taking a little more stringent action on the Little Su and the Parks Highway to make sure we have some of the best potential of achieving those (escapement) goals on those systems,” Ivey said.
A key to the package is the area-wide restrictions, Ivey said.
“It is because it considers the whole area instead of just managing within one system or another,” Ivey said.
Ivey said the department wanted to release its restriction plan as soon as possible.
“It is very important we get the word out early so people can plan accordingly,” Ivey said. “For people from Outside planning a trip to Alaska, it gives them an idea what to expect.”
The department has been closely watching a negative trend in the area and hope these changes can produce positive results in the future.
“We’ve been in somewhat of a slump on king salmon since 2007,” Ivey said.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com.