Throughout Southeast Alaska, non-resident sport anglers will not be allowed to keep king salmon they catch this August.
It’s the latest change aimed at keeping the region’s sport harvest of chinook within a target allocation of 37,900 fish.
“As the season goes along, we’re monitoring how many fish have been harvested, kind of what we project the total for the season is going to be. And we’re getting towards the end of the season now, and it looked like we’re going to exceed our allocation and had to take more restrictive action in order to keep the sport fishery within its allocation,” said Patrick Fowler, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s area management biologist for Petersburg and Wrangell.
In June, the department announced reduced bag limits. This is an additional step to slow the harvest. Fish and Game says the number of people out fishing is lower than average, but catch rates are higher than expected this year.
The closure for non-residents also applies to special hatchery areas, like the salt water of the Wrangell Narrows near Petersburg. But it doesn’t apply to Alaskans.
Residents will see a change in king salmon bag limits in August, though. On the outer coast, residents are limited to one fish. On the inside waters, including around Petersburg and Wrangell, residents can keep two kings. Those inside waters are closed in the spring to avoid harvest of kings returning to Southeast’s river systems, and the higher bag limit is meant to make up for some of that reduction later in the season.
Fowler said the harvest of Crystal Lake king salmon in the Wrangell Narrows near Petersburg has been better than average.
“We saw some pretty good catch rates coming out of there and some healthy numbers of king salmon returning to that area, consistent with what we forecasted for the area,” Fowler said. “But that was definitely the highlight for the Petersburg area, especially with so much of our waters being closed in the early season.”
King salmon return to spawn in the spring and early summer. As the numbers of those fish dwindle, anglers may be turning their focus to coho salmon or halibut at this time of year anyway.