The Division of Sport Fish is increasing the bag and possession limit for coho salmon in the Unalakleet River and its tributaries to 10 fish, from 12:01 a.m. Friday, August 17 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, October 15. The bag and possession limit for salmon, other than king salmon, is 10 fish, of which only four in combination may be chum and sockeye salmon. This bag and possession limit for salmon, other than king salmon, includes the 10 fish limit for coho salmon.
The cumulative count of coho salmon at the counting tower on the North River, a tributary of the Unalakleet River, is well above the recent 5-year average. As of August 14, 11,247 coho salmon have been counted at the North River tower, compared to the recent 10-year average 3,469 fish. While no aerial surveys have been conducted on the North River, the coho salmon count at the tower will be sufficient to exceed the North River aerial survey-based sustainable escapement goal (SEG) of 550-1,100 salmon. In addition, the cumulative coho salmon count at the Unalakleet River weir is over three times the historical average for this date. As of August 10, when the weir was removed for the season, 58,756 coho salmon had passed the weir. This is well above the average of 16,295 coho salmon by this date. Due to the high number of coho salmon in the Unalakleet River drainage and projections to exceed the upper bound of the SEG at the North River tower, an increase in the bag and possession limit for coho salmon from 4 to 10 fish is warranted. It is anticipated that the additional harvest associated with the increased bag limit will not reduce the escapement below the SEG.
For additional information contact Brendan Scanlon, Northwest and North Slope Area Management Biologist, 907-459-7268.