Southeast Alaska’s commercial troll fishing fleet will have another crack at king salmon in August even with a big haul from the first Chinook opening in July.
Trollers had their first summer king opening July 1st through July 7. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game had expected the opening to be longer with a large quota for kings this year.
Pattie Skannes, the department’s troll management biologist for Southeast, said Chinook catch rates were more than double those of a year ago. And she said the number of boats fishing was also up.
“We had 106 permits in addition to what we had last July,” Skannes said. “So we had a feeling there’d be more people up here fishing, some coming from the Lower 48. We also expected that there wouldn’t be as many trollers targeting chum this year during the king opening, which was true. But we were surprised to see how much higher the effort was, when all the numbers were in. But the catch rates were the most amazing aspect of the fishery. The abundance is just incredible out there.”
Overall 820 permits were fished during that first king opening. The highest catch rates were on the northern and central outside waters. The total harvest from that opening was 198,760 kings.
“The catch per fleet per day was one of the highest we’ve ever seen, it was about 28,400. So our catch came in over our target by about that amount. So in other words, in hindsight we fished about one day too long,” Skannes said.