All posts by Chris Cocoles

Legal Moose? Check Out ADFG’s Video To Help Determine It

Photo by ADFG


The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

A remake of the popular video “Is This Moose Legal?” is now available for hunters preparing for the coming season. Originally produced by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in the 1980s to familiarize moose hunters with newly imposed antler restrictions, this educational tool is now more valuable than ever, especially for those who plan to hunt moose in Kenai Peninsula Game Management Units 7 and 15 where viewing the video is part of a mandatory Moose Hunter Orientation package.

The new 25-minute-long version of “Is This Moose Legal?” is updated to address regulations that have evolved over the years and is designed to familiarize hunters with moose antler terminology, selective harvest strategies, and help hunters learn how to identify legal moose in antler-restricted hunt areas.

“This is a wonderful educational video for new and experienced moose hunters alike,” said Bruce Dale, director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation. “I think hunters across the state will enjoy watching the new version and will gain valuable information for their next moose hunt.”

Moose management in many parts of Alaska includes restrictions on the spread or configuration of a bull’s antlers. Knowing definitions for these terms and how to identify these antler distinctions in the field is a critical part of legally harvesting a moose in Alaska.

The updated “Is This Moose Legal?” video can be streamed for free on the department’s website at DVDs will also be available beginning in August for $5 at your local Fish and Game office or online at the ADF&G Store.

Raymarine To Show Off New Technology At ICast

The following press release is courtesy of Raymarine







Take Flight with Raymarine Axiom UAV!

See our latest innovation at ICAST On the Water! Plus, a chance to WIN a new DJI Mavic Pro drone!



Coming this summer, Raymarine’s new Axiom UAV app integrates advanced marine electronics with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology. Our powerful Axiom multifunction displays integrate seamlessly with the advanced DJI Mavic Pro drone to give anglers a bird’s-eye view of fish, bait, reefs, weed lines and much, much more!



When:Tuesday, July 11, 2018.


Where:ICAST On the Water, Booth 26
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL
At the ponds adjacent to the North/South Concourse (North side)
Directly across the street from the West Concourse
Look for the exhibitor tents and flags


Time:10:00 AM until 2:00 PM




Every boater has wished for a bird’s-eye view of their surroundings at some time. Now the dream of flight has become reality with Raymarine’s new Axiom UAV App, which brings together marine navigation and advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs.)


Compatible with the popular and highly capable DJI Mavic drone, the Axiom UAV app automates many common tasks including launch, airborne imaging, in-flight navigation, and return-to-boat. Fishing and cruising boats alike can now experience cutting edge aerial imaging integrated right into their Raymarine Axiom multifunction navigation display.


Please join us at the Raymarine tent and see a demonstration of this amazing technology in action! Plus, you can enter to win a new DJI Mavic Pro drone of your own!




Kenai Personal-Use Dip Net Fishery Set To Open

Kenai River dipnetting photo by Tom Reale.


The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Kenai River Personal Use Dip Net Fishery to Open July 10 with No Retention of King Salmon

(Soldotna) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) reminds Alaska residents the Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery opens on July 10 and continues through July 31, 2018. However, because of anticipated low returns, the retention of king salmon in the Kenai River personal use fishery will be prohibited. Any king salmon caught incidentally may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately, unharmed.

On June 21, 2018, ADF&G issued a regulation restriction prohibiting the use of bait on the Kenai River effective July 1, 2018, from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek. Per the Kenai River Late-Run King Salmon Management Plan, the retention of king salmon in the personal use fishery is prohibited, if bait is prohibited in the Kenai River sport fishery. Restrictions were also implemented on the commercial fisheries per the management plan.

The 2018 king salmon runs throughout Cook Inlet have consistently and significantly underperformed ADF&G preseason forecasts resulting in restrictions and closures of inriver and marine sport fisheries. ADF&G will continue to monitor the Kenai River run as it develops and additional actions may be taken depending on the run strength.

Dipnetting on the Kenai River is allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. each day, from July 10 through July 31, 2018. An Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permit and a 2018 Resident Sport Fishing license are required to participate. Only Alaska residents can participate. The Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits are available at local ADF&G offices, vendors, and on the ADF&G online store. Please review the Kenai River Dipnet Fishery regulations on page 14 of the 2018 Southcentral Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet for the dipnet areas.

Study: Bears Eating Berries Disperse Seeds, Helping Smaller Mammals


A northern red-backed vole forages for berries in bear scat in southeastern Alaska. Oregon State University photo.

The following press release is courtesy of Oregon State University:

CORVALLIS, Ore. — New research shows that mice and voles scurry to bear scats to forage for seeds, finding nutritional value in the seeds and in some cases further dispersing them.

The study is published in the journal Ecosphere by researchers at Oregon State University and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The research builds on an OSU study that determined that bears are the primary seed dispersers of berry-producing shrubs in Alaska.

In southeastern Alaska, brown and black bears are plentiful because of salmon. Bears frequently supplement their salmon-based diet with fruit as they build their fat stores for winter hibernation. As a result, their seed-filled scats are found throughout the landscape.

“Salmon can have a far greater impact on the ecosystem than we thought,” said study lead author Yasaman Shakeri, an Oregon State University graduate now with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “Our study shows how small mammals can benefit indirectly from salmon through high bear densities that salmon support and the resulting seed-filled scats on the landscape. Not only are small mammals spending months feeding and fighting for the seeds in scats, they’re also scattering the seeds on the landscape, which allows some of the seeds to become future fruiting plants.”

The researchers placed motion-triggered cameras near bear scats in the upper Chilkat Valley, 30 miles north of Haines, from June to October in 2014 and 2015. They recorded visits to the scat made by small mammals and birds.

Northwestern deer mice made 4,295 total visits to the scats – an average of 8.5 a day. Northern red-backed voles visited 1,099 times at an average of 2.2 times a day. In addition to the cameras, the researchers also live-trapped and tagged small mammals to estimate their abundance and population densities.

The team collected bear scats on roads and trails within the study area from July-September in 2014 and 2015 and analyzed the nutritional characteristics found in the 12 species of fruit found in the scats, including gross energy, total dietary fiber, crude protein and crude fat. From those samples, they estimated digestible energy per seed.

The energy within the seeds in bear scats can be a significant portion of the energy budget of rodents. For example, a single bear scat contained 73,230 devil’s club seeds, which was capable of meeting the daily energy requirements of 91 deer mice. In coastal Alaska riparian areas, bears are potentially capable of indirectly subsidizing the energy needs of 45–65 percent of local deer mouse populations, Shakeri said.

In addition to consuming the seeds at the site, the mice appear to scatter-hoard the seeds in much the same way that gray squirrels scatter-hoard acorns, said Taal Levi, an ecologist in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and co-author on the study. Scatter-hoarding is creating a large number of small hoards, as opposed to a large hoard found in a single place.

“This process is called secondary seed dispersal and forgotten seeds can have much higher survival than unburied seeds,” Levi said.

The study was also co-authored by Kevin White, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife provided funding for the study.

Shakeri has posted videos on YouTube of deer mice and a vole foraging for berries in bear scat



Who’s Celebrating A Birthday Today?

Photos by Chris Cocoles


Today is a day to relax,  throw some meat on the grill, drink a beer – or a soda – and to remember how Founding Fathers and never forget why we got here. Happy Fourth of July!

Wood River Drainage Sockeye Salmon Limits Increased

The following press releases are courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

(Dillingham) – In an effort to harvest surplus sockeye salmon returning to the Wood River, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing regulation liberalization by increasing limits of sockeye salmon to 10 fish per day and 10 fish in possession for all waters of the Wood River drainage. This regulatory change is effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 4 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, December 31, 2018. However, the bag and possession limit for other salmon, except king and sockeye salmon, remains at 5 fish per day and 5 in possession. These limits are in combination with the more liberal limits for sockeye salmon.

The escapement of sockeye salmon on the Wood River has exceeded the escapement goal of 700,000 to 1.8 million fish. As of July 2, 2018, over 2.4 million sockeye salmon have been counted at the Wood River tower.

“Over 1.1 million sockeye salmon entered the Wood River on Monday. That more than doubles the previous single day record, ” stated Area Management Biologist Jason Dye. “Therefore, it is warranted to increase the bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon in the Wood River sport fishery.”

Copper River file photo by AK X-peditions.

Copper River Glennallen Subdistrict Subsistence Fishing Restored to 7-Days a Week

The Glennallen Subdistrict subsistence fishery will open at 12:00 p.m. (noon) Friday, July 6 for 48 hours and then immediately reopen to 7-day/week fishing at 12:01 p.m. Sunday, July 8 for the remainder of the season unless superseded by a subsequent emergency order.

Copper River sockeye salmon have a sustainable escapement goal (SEG) of 360,000 – 750,000 fish (5AAC 24.360). From June 24 through July 1, salmon passage at the Miles Lake sonar has been more than double the expected passage and the projected sockeye salmon spawning escapement is now expected to exceed 360,000 wild sockeye salmon. Copper River sockeye salmon migratory timing and the previous five-year average harvest and participation rates indicate sufficient numbers of salmon available to justify reopening the Glennallen Subdistrict subsistence fishery to 7-day/week beginning noon Sunday, July 8.

Information regarding the fishery can be found at the ADF&G web site: This site provides information regarding the Upper Copper River fisheries including: fishery descriptions and summaries, maps of the subdistricts, a listing of vendors that carry the permits, and links to the sonar numbers and fishing schedule emergency orders.

Any changes on the status of this fishery will be announced on the Chitina Fishery information line at 822-5224 (Glennallen), 459-7382 (Fairbanks), and 267-2511 (Anchorage). Please contact an information phone line prior to planning your trip to Chitina to ensure that the fishery will be open when you arrive. If you have any questions regarding the Glennallen Subdistrict subsistence fishery, please contact the ADF&G office in Glennallen at (907) 822-3309.


Brown Bear That Killed Eagle River Hiker Eluding Authorities

Law enforcement officials have been searching for the brown bear that fatally attacked  a hiker in Eagle River near Anchorage, but the bruin can’t be tracked down. Here’s more from the Anchorage Daily News: 

“The immediate trail has gone cold,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh on Monday.

The bear traps remain near the end of Hiland Road, but Marsh said they’re no longer set. However, that could change if there are bear sightings in the area.


“At this point we’re going more into a long-term type of strategy,” he said, though he couldn’t say exactly what measures biologists may take aside from closely monitoring the situation in case there are more bear sightings.

Biologists have taken bear DNA samples from the site where an Eagle River man’s body was found and another man was mauled June 20. Marsh said if Fish and Game does capture and kill any bears in the area, the samples will be used to determine if the bear matches the one believed to be responsible for killing Michael Soltis, 44, and injuring Paul Vasquez, a volunteer searcher who was mauled near Soltis’ body. Vasquez suffered a leg wound when he was attacked by what was described as a large brown bearby another member of the search party.



Russian, Upper Kenai River Sockeye Bag Limits Increasing

Russian River photo by Dennis Musgraves

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

(Soldotna) – In an effort to harvest surplus sockeye salmon returning to the Russian River, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing regulation liberalization by increasing limits of sockeye salmon to six per day and twelve in possession for the Russian River and a section of the mainstem Upper Kenai River. This regulatory change is effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 3 through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 14, 2018.

The section of the mainstem Upper Kenai River includes the area that extends from Skilak Lake upstream to ADF&G regulatory markers located approximately 300 yards upstream of the public boat launch at Sportsman’s Landing and the Russian River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker located approximately 600 yards downstream from the Russian River Falls. Anglers are reminded that they may possess only the limit allowed for the waters they are actively fishing. If a Russian River angler has more than six sockeye salmon in possession, then that angler may not fish in waters with a possession limit of six.

As of July 1, 2018, over 32,700 sockeye salmon have passed the Russian River weir, located upstream of the falls. Average run timing to this date is approximately 70%. ADF&G estimates that the escapement will exceed the early-run sockeye salmon biological escapement goal of 22,000 – 42,000 sockeye salmon.

“Based on the number of sockeye salmon that have passed through the Russian River weir it is appropriate to increase the limits and allow anglers an opportunity to harvest six sockeye salmon per day in the Russian and Upper Kenai rivers,” stated Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller.

Anglers are reminded to remove fish carcasses whole, or gutted/gilled from the Russian River clear water. If you clean your catch, take fish to the mainstem Kenai River cleaning tables located at the confluence and ferry crossing to fillet and chop-up sockeye salmon carcasses into small pieces and throw the pieces into deep, flowing waters. Please keep all personal belongings, including stringers of fish closely attended. Please respect the riverbank restoration projects and stay on the established pathways in the Sanctuary area, campground areas, and Russian River ferry area.

239-Pounder Still Pacing Valdez Derby Lead

Tommy Early’s 129-pound halibut was the weekly winner in Valdez’s halibut derby. (VALDEZFISHDERBIES.COM)

The following press release is courtesy of Valdez Fish Derbies: 

VALDEZ, Alaska – Doug Cranor of Valdez, Alaska, reeled in a 239.0 pound halibut aboard the Redhead to take the lead in the Valdez Halibut Derby on June 23rd and, despite some close competition, is still in the lead. Cranor said his fish got hooked 15 feet under the boat as he was reeling up. “That’s how I got him”, Cranor said. “My friend caught a big king salmon the same day one boat over so it was a good day of fishing”. Indeed it was a good day fishing, as Russell Young of Fairbanks also reeled in his 226.0 pound halibut on June 23rd aboard the Dan Orion. Eric Johnson of North Pole is hanging onto 3rd place with a 149 pound halibut he caught June 22nd. The top three overall leaders in the Valdez derby have held their spots, but the competition for 1st and 2nd place weekly prizes has been intense.

Brian Tkacs of Chugiak, Alaska, went fishing with family on June 28th and reeled in a 116.6 pound halibut that put him in 2nd place on the weekly leader board. Tkacs was fishing with a family from Colorado. The wife, Kristin Smith reeled in an 80 pound halibut, her husband Thomas Smith caught a halibut about 100 pounds and 15 year-old Jackson Smith reeled in an 80 pounder. By the next day Tkacs had lost his spot in the weekly standings, but he said he was happy to be on the leader board for at least one moment of fame. Tkacs said he buys a derby ticket and definitely is a gambler but said he was glad there wasn’t a bet on board for who would have gotten sick first. “I would have won that too!” he chuckled.

Anglers are having success in Prince William Sound, catching halibut and rockfish and are excited to add Lingcod to the list of fish they can catch as the season opened July 1st. Lingcod bag and possession limit is one per day and one in possession. Valdez Charter Captain Josh Hughes reported seeing a few pink salmon jumping in the Sound.

According to a release on the Valdez Fisheries Development Association website, the anticipated return of pink salmon to Port Valdez is 16.9 million this summer. Typically the pink salmon are available the month of July and into August. There are a couple weeks in late July and early August in Valdez where anglers enjoy catching both pink salmon and silver salmon. More and more families are finding their way to Valdez to fish for pink salmon, halibut and silver salmon and Valdez Fish Derbies is hosting a free Kids Pink Salmon Derby on Saturday, July 21st. The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby starts July 21st so there will be a few weeks where anglers can catch both pink and silver salmon in Valdez.

The Women’s Silver Salmon Derby is slated for August 11th with an opening ceremony Friday night. The theme of this year’s Women’s Derby is “Circus” and there will be a group costume contest Friday night as well as live music and awards for the top 50 on Saturday night. CLICK HERE for details on the Women’s Derby.

Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders

1st   Doug Cranor     Valdez, AK 239.0 lbs. June 23 Redhead
2nd Russell Young Fairbanks, AK 226.0 lbs. June 23 Dan Orion
3rd Eric Johnson     North Pole, AK 149.0 lbs. June 22 Sea Walker

Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners – June 24th through 30th

1st   Tommy Early   Romeland, CA 129.2 lbs. June 29 Blueshewes
2nd    David Swigart North Pole, AK 129.0 lbs. June 30 Lena Claire

For more information on the Valdez Derbies, visit:

Ship Creek Sport Fishing Shuts down from July 3-14

Ship Creek king photo courtesy of the Bait Shack.


The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:


(Anchorage) – In favor of protecting returning king salmon and increasing fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing regulation closure on Ship Creek effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 3 through 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 14, 2018. Ship Creek is closed to all sport fishing from its mouth upstream to a cable 100 feet downstream of the Chugach Power Dam.

“The 2018 Ship Creek king salmon return is looking like historical returns which were weak and late. During these weak and late returning years we need to make sure that we are getting enough fish back to the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery to provide eggs for future king salmon runs,” stated Area Management Biologist Jay Baumer. “Ship Creek king salmon are primarily a hatchery run; however, king salmon runs throughout Cook Inlet are consistently experiencing a low productivity year and difficult measures need to be taken so that Ship Creek doesn’t experience another weak return in a couple years from now.”

The William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery (hatchery) collects broodstock from king salmon returning to the Ship Creek drainage for the primary purpose of providing king salmon sport fishing opportunities in the Anchorage area. As of June 28, 2018, only four king salmon have entered the raceway at the hatchery and only 45 king salmon were observed during a stream survey from the hatchery downstream to the Chugach Power Plant Dam. In order to sustain the Ship Creek sport fishery, ADF&G staff needs to ensure that enough king salmon make it to the hatchery to meet broodstock needs; therefore, the current numbers justify closing the king salmon fishery for the remainder of the season.

“The high and turbid waters Ship Creek has been experiencing have made it a difficult year not only for anglers but for ADF&G staff. The water conditions moved gravel around creating new islands and new channels. Not only has it clogged up the hatchery raceways with silt but it has delayed our foot surveys,” stated Area Management Biologist Jay Baumer. “ADF&G staff has been watching this fishery closely and were waiting for suitable water levels, so we could count the number of the kings that have returned so far. Until recently, the high and turbid water conditions made it impossible for ADF&G staff to visually count fish. Although water conditions have cleared up enough for ADF&G staff to conduct a stream survey, the number of king salmon in the creek are not at the level needed to provide for broodstock needs and allow a sport fishery.”

ADF&G staff will continue to monitor the Ship Creek king salmon run and if run strength improves to a level that can support harvest, restrictions to the sport fishery may be rescinded. Ship Creek will reopen on July 14, 2018, for coho salmon season.