Category Archives: Featured Content

Saltery Cove Sockeye Limit Restored

Sockeye photo by Katrina Mueller/USFWS

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

Kodiak) – The recent number of sockeye salmon passing through the Saltery Creek weir is allowing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) to restore the bag and possession limits for sockeye salmon in the Saltery Cove drainage from two fish to five fish. These provisions are effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, July 31 through December 31, 2018.

“Sockeye salmon numbers have improved in the Saltery Cove drainage; therefore, ADF&G anticipates meeting the escapement objective for this drainage,” stated Area Management Biologist Tyler Polum. “As of July 29, 2018, the weir count was 15,048 sockeye salmon. Based on historical run timing, 80% of the run has occurred and escapement goals will be achieved even with increased harvest. Therefore, it is warranted to restore the bag limit to five fish per day to allow additional sport fishing and harvest opportunities.”

For additional information, please contact Area Management Biologist Tyler Polum at (907) 486-1880.

 

 

ADFG Seeking Harvested Wildlife For Disease Study

Photo by Paul Atkins

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

(Juneau) — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is expanding the respiratory pathogen surveillance program with a focus on detecting Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, M. ovi for shorthand, a bacterium that can cause respiratory diseases in big game animals such as Dall’s sheep. The department is asking hunters to provide the heads of any Dall’s sheep, mountain goat, or Delta bison harvested, as well as the heads of certain moose, caribou, and muskoxen populations so that samples can be taken.

Fish and Game biologists and staff will swab the nasal cavity to collect a sample. The department requests that hunters in some areas bring in heads with intact nasal mucosa. To be most helpful for analysis, the heads should be brought in fresh and kept cool but not frozen — and no later than 14 days after the animal is harvested. The hunter’s personal information will not be associated with the laboratory results but the location of the harvest is key to the surveillance.

“Thanks to hunters willing to bring in the head of harvested animals in those wildlife populations we’d like to sample,” said Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation, Bruce Dale. “We know that hunters understand the importance of disease surveillance and we appreciate their assistance with this effort.”

This harvest sampling is just a part of the overall respiratory disease surveillance program. The department is also working on research with other state and federal partners, sampling animals captured during research field work, and investigating reports of sick and dead animals. Specific Dall’s sheep and mountain goat populations are the focus of multi-year monitoring to assess the impact of M. ovi, and the department is conducting research to improve future surveillance efforts.

Multiple strains of M. ovi have been detected in Dall’s sheep, mountain goats, caribou and moose in Alaska. All of the live and hunter harvested animals sampled appeared healthy and the department has no evidence that M. ovi has caused sickness or death in Alaska’s wild sheep or goat populations. However, M. ovi was associated with the death of an emaciated caribou. M. ovi does not affect humans.

The presence of M. ovi in an animal does not necessarily mean it is sick or will become sick. The ability of M. ovi to cause pneumonia depends not only upon the strain of the bacteria but more importantly is impacted by multiple stressors on the animal including poor nutritional condition and/or environmental factors such as extreme weather. Both domestic and wild sheep and goats can carry the strains of bacteria they are adapted to while showing no signs of illness.

Sometimes found in domestic and wild sheep and goats in the Lower 48, and a small percentage of domestic flocks in Alaska, M. ovi is considered a pathogen because it impairs hosts’ respiratory cilia from clearing bacteria that enter the lungs normally at each breath. M. ovi strains from domestic sheep have been associated with pneumonia outbreaks in Lower 48 bighorn sheep, often resulting in significant die-offs.

For specifics on which species in which locations ADF&G is requesting samples from, visithttp://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/news/hottopics/pdfs/testing_respiratory_pathogens_alaska_game_animals.pdf(PDF 968 kB)

For more information about M. ovi findings in Alaska, see the frequently asked questions at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hottopics.movi

11-Pound Silver Wins Canadian $500 Valdez Prize

Quebec visitor Bernard Roberge scored the $500 “Big Prize Friday” award during the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby. (VALDEZFISHDERBIES.COM)

VALDEZ, Alaska – In addition to winning the 1st place daily prize, Bernard Roberge of Quebec won Big Prize Friday with a 11.44 pound silver salmon and took home $500 cash in addition to his daily prizes. In first place overall in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby is Darlene Juve of Decorah, IA with a 14.98 pound silver salmon she reeled in on July 24th aboard the Orion. Lavonne Kennedy of Valdez holds second place overall with an 11.92 pound silver salmon she caught on July 21st aboard the Lady Lavonne. Holding on to third place overall Steve DuBois of Livingston, MT reeled in a 11.44 pound silver salmon on July 26 aboard the Aquila.

Iowa’s Darlane Juve is the overall silver salmon leader with this 14.98-pounder. (VALDEZFISHDERBIES.COM)

As the silvers return to Port Valdez in larger numbers during the coming weeks, expect the size of daily winners to increase. The largest fish on record to win the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby was a 22.14 pound fish. It doesn’t always take a huge fish to win the Valdez Derbies. The smallest silver salmon to win the derby according to records dating back to 1971 is Jim Burzinski of Valdez who reeled in a 15.11 silver to win back in 1971. Visit the Valdez Fish Derbies Silver Salmon Derby “Previous Winners” page for complete list of winners and weights.

Patricia Johnson of Clovis, California got lucky on July 26th, 2018 when she hooked into a 285.8 pound halibut aboard the Harvester putting her into the lead of the 2018 Valdez Halibut Derby. Doug Cranor’s month lead has finally been broken. In an interview with the captain of the Harvester Buddy Scott, he was asked the ten-thousand dollar question: “Is winning the derby a matter of skill or luck?” Buddy responded “I’m going to have to say luck today because we have fished that area several times and just happened to have the ol’ girl swim through.” When asked what putting a big fish on the leaderboard meant to Buddy, he replied: “Up to ten thousand dollars for her and [it] makes me happy because it’s my first year as an actual captain.” Patricia’s catch also landed her first place in the weekly derby putting a little over 100 pounds between her and the second place weekly winner Timothy Schackman of North Pole who reeled in a 185.4 pound halibut on July 23rd aboard the Bold Eagle.

The Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby should bring in some bigger fish, and a lot of lady anglers. The opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday, August 10th and a closing awards ceremony on Saturday, August 11th. The theme of this year’s Women’s Derby is “Circus” and there will be a group costume contest Friday. Live music and awards are planned for Saturday and derby organizers are expecting another exciting year. CLICK HERE to visit the Women’s Derby registration page at www.valdezfishderbies.com.

Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders

1st Patricia Johnson Clovis, CA 285.8 lbs. July 26   Harvester

2nd Doug Cranor Valdez, AK 239.0 lbs. June 23 Redhead

3rd Russell Young    Fairbanks, AK 226.0 lbs. June 23 Dan Orion

 

Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners

1st Patricia Johnson Clovis, CA 285.8 lbs. July 26   Harvester

2nd Timothy Schackman North Pole, AK 185.4 lbs. July 23 Bold Eagle

 

Silver Derby – Overall Leaders

1st Darlene Juve Decorah, IA        14.98 lbs. July 24 Orion

2nd Lavonne Kennedy Valdez, AK 11.92 lbs. July 21   Lady Lavonne

3rd Steve DuBois Livingston, MT 11.44 lbs. July 26   Aquila

Corps Of Engineers Wants To Review Pebble Project Despite Governor’s Pleas

 

Exploration drill rig at the prospective site of the Pebble Mine. (ALASKA TREKKER/WIKIMEDIA)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to go through with an environmental review of the Pebble Mine Project despite a plea from Alaska Governor Bill Walker to delay the review.

Here’s the Associated Press with more:

Gov. Bill Walker, in a letter co-signed by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott last month, said the company behind the proposed Pebble Mine had yet to show that the project is feasible or realistic. They argued that, at a minimum, a preliminary economic assessment should be conducted to help inform the corps’ work.

But Shane McCoy, the corps’ program manager for the Pebble review, told reporters Thursday that an economic analysis is not required for the corps to do its work.

There are limited situations in which a review would be halted, including cases in which an applicant itself asks to stop, or if an applicant fails to provide the corps requested information, McCoy said. Walker’s request was not one that the corps could grant under its rules, he said.

 

Kenai River Sockeye Bag Limit Is One Fish

Sockeye salmon photo by ADFG

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

(Soldotna) – To protect returning sockeye salmon and increase fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing regulation restriction on the Kenai River effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, July 30 through 11:59 p.m. Monday, December 31, 2018, from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker located at the outlet of Skilak Lake. The bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon 16 inches or longer is reduced from three per day and six in possession, to one per day, two in possession. The bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon less than 16 inches remains at 10 per day, 10 in possession. Above Skilak Lake, where anglers are primarily targeting Russian River sockeye salmon, the limits remains at three per day, six in possession.

On July 24, 2018, ADF&G reevaluated the Kenai River sockeye salmon run and projected the run will be less than 2.3 million fish. Based on the current passage estimate of sockeye salmon in the Kenai River of 367,895 fish through July 25, the sustainable escapement goal (SEG) of 700,000 to 1.2 million Kenai River late-run sockeye salmon may not be met without a reduction in harvest of this stock. Therefore, it is warranted to decrease the bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon in the Kenai River sport fishery. Restrictions to the commercial and personal use fisheries are also being implemented to improve sockeye salmon passage to the Kenai River.

“Sockeye salmon passage by the sonar at river mile 19 have been behind this season, but other indicators suggested perhaps a late run timing,” stated Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller. “An assessment of the data earlier this week indicated it may just be a weak run. Without further restrictions to harvest, the goal for Kenai River sockeye salmon is not expected to be achieved. ADF&G staff understand the hardship this has on anglers, as this restriction also affects us.”

ADF&G staff will be closely monitoring this fishery as the season progresses and additional actions may be taken if necessary.

For additional information, please contact Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller at (907) 262-9368.

Kenai River Personal Use Dip Net Fishery to Close Monday

(Soldotna) – To protect returning sockeye salmon and increase fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is closing the Kenai River Personal Use Dipnet Fishery effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, July 30, 2018.

On July 24, 2018, ADF&G reevaluated the Kenai River sockeye salmon run and projected the run will be less than 2.3 million fish. Based on the current passage estimate of sockeye salmon in the Kenai River of 367,895 fish through July 25, the sustainable escapement goal (SEG) of 700,000 to 1.2 million Kenai River late-run sockeye salmon may not be met without a reduction in harvest of this stock. Therefore, it is warranted to close the Kenai River personal use fishery prior to the season end date of July 31. Restrictions to the commercial and sport fisheries are also being implemented to improve sockeye salmon passage to the Kenai River.

“Sockeye salmon passage by the sonar at river mile 19 have been behind this season, but other indicators suggested perhaps a late run timing,” stated Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller. “An assessment of the data earlier this week indicated it may just be a weak run. Without further restrictions to sockeye salmon harvest, the goal for Kenai River sockeye salmon is not expected to be achieved.”

Dipnetters are reminded they still dipnetting opportunities available to catch their 2018 Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use annual household salmon limit. The Fish Creek Personal Use Dipnet Fishery opened by emergency order to dipnetting only between 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. through July 31, 2018, and the Kasilof River Personal Use Dipnet Fishery is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week through August 7. Dipnetters have reported success at both of these fisheries in recent days. No retention of king salmon is allowed at either dipnet fishery.

For additional information, please contact Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller at (907) 262-9368.

Adventures With His Dad

 

Photos by Paul D. Atkins

The following appears in the July issue of Alaska Sporting Journal:

BY PAUL D. ATKINS 

Eli, are you going to be OK?”I asked my son for what seemed like the hundredth time. 

Through tearful eyes, he replied with a simple “Yes.” I wondered if he really was, though, and it worried me. 

The Dramamine had little effect and the patches seemed more like a gimmick than an actual seasickness preventive. I felt sorry for Eli, to say the least, and was wondering if it might have been a bad idea to drag him out onto the ocean for a trip like this. 

Thankfully, one of the guys on the boat had been thoughtful enough to bring a bag of Jolly Ranchers, which in the end helped save the day and the entire trip.

Now, I know this isn’t how I usually start one of my stories, but when your fishing and hunting trip requires a boat in order to go a long distance in big water, then it usually always starts just like that. Five-day excursions into wide-open places, such as the southern end of Kamishak Bay (as we were in), or other places, like the Chukchi Sea where I live, are not for the faint-hearted anyway, but they are common practices come May through June here in Alaska. Getting sick from the ever-pounding waves and rocking of the boat are a given. Eventually someone, or all, will spill their beans.

This was not my first trip into the deep blue, but it had been many years since I’d flown to Homer and tested my nerve and skill on a trip such as this. “Cast and blast,” as it is often referred, are five- to six-day boat hunts and fishing tours provided by transporters in and out of the many bodies of water here in Alaska. They are fun, exciting and provide a lot of enjoyment for a true Alaskan adventure, something all should experience at least once in their lives – especially if their kids tag along. 

MY FIRST HUNT/CHARTER fishing trip was 14 years ago, long before Eli was able to walk or even talk, for that matter. As a novice I booked the trip with a charter service. I wanted to experience something different and special, something I couldn’t get in the Arctic. 

Staying close to home at the time, I hadn’t traveled to many places in Alaska, but compared to Kotzebue, Homer was like traveling to a different country, considering all its sights and sounds. I got what I was after, even the experience of big waves and an upset stomach.

It was an incredible trip, to say the least. Every day provided something different, from catching a variety of fish during the day to each evening being skiffed to shore in search of black bears. We’d then return to the boat with tales of hits, misses and “almosts.” It was an enjoyable time. 

Our “floating camp” reminded me of past camps in the far north on dry land and surrounded by caribou and the occasional wandering moose or grizzly. We were successful too: Six guys took six bears and caught limits of fish, which made it an adventure for the memory book. 

That was long ago, but I wanted it again and this time to share it with my 15-year-old son.

I HAVE MET MANY great people through my Cabela’s connections and many of those have become good friends, so about a year ago when I mentioned to one that I wanted to take my son and experience another trip like this, I got an invite. Mike Flores, a fellow Cabela’s pro-staffer and owner of Ninilchik Charters (907-260-7825; ninilchik.com) said, “Sure; when do you want to go?” I was all over it. 

Mike has been an influential presence in the charter business for many years and is very respectable when it comes to providing great trips such as this and fishing excursions up and down the Kenai Peninsula. 

A military veteran, Mike also has a big heart. Each year he and his crew provide hunts and fishing trips for disabled veterans and have been doing it for years with success. These trips focus not only on the hunt or fishing itself, but provide these courageous men and women with an adventure they wouldn’t be able to experience anywhere else. It’s truly remarkable.

Chartered transported hunts usually start in May and run throughout the month of June. I booked early and got in on one of the earlier hunts this last May. School was out then, so Eli would be able to go and he was eager to do so. 

I explained to him the best I could on what to expect, plus the joys and discomforts of being on a boat for six days. “It will be a lot of fun,” I told him, “but like all Alaska adventure, you need to be ready for the unexpected.”

WE ARRIVED IN HOMER after a short flight from Anchorage. We didn’t have much gear save for the usual: two rifles, rain gear and a supply of clothes and reading material to get us through the week. 

Time away from cell phones and the PS4 was my primary goal. It was just getting Eli and I outdoors to experience something different other than the long winter we had just experienced in Kotzebue. This would be a true father-son adventure, in far different surroundings. 

We met our captain, Garrett, the next morning in the boat harbor onboard the 50-foot vessel the Sundy, a spacious boat that slept six and was built for big-water adventures such as this. Other than our captain and crewmember Schuyler we found only one other boatmate, a disabled veteran, Mike, who had done two tours in Afghanistan. 

Like most hunts when you are in camp with people you don’t know, Mike kept quiet and to himself in the beginning, but as the adventure progressed he opened up and the trip became one of camaraderie and excitement. 

This first day was dedicated to getting from point A to point B, which meant in order to get started, a long boat ride was required. I can say one thing about charter captains and their boats – they amaze me. Their incredible skill at navigating the water and knowing what to do with different scenarios are required skills, with Garrett at the top of his game. 

I could see why my good friend Mike Flores had had so much faith in him, which he has expressed to me a lot over the years. It’s also important to note that when it comes to bear hunting and fishing on open water in Alaska, it really comes down to one thing: weather. The conversation between captain and fellow skippers is nonstop. The reports coming over the radio from the National Weather Service are endless. The chatter of wind direction, wind speed, tides, and currents are never ending, and a must to know on a trip such as this. 

Another requirement is the ability to read the water and know where the fish are and get clients on those fish. Garrett had that down, and then some.

After arriving at our first destination, we anchored and dropped our lines. My primary goal was to catch halibut and I wanted Eli to experience the feel of pulling up one of these behemoths of the deep. 

He loves to fish, but he had never caught a halibut, only eaten them from trades I had made for moose or caribou. It was exciting!

He didn’t catch any that day, as only Mike and I were able to pull up a couple of nice ones. Eli was still a little woozy from the ride and still had a bad taste in his mouth, so his time on deck was limited until he could get his sea legs. I did tell him that as the trip continued it would get better, which it did. 

THE NEXT DAY BROUGHT more fishing, with Eli feeling better. We tried our hand at rockfish, and even though it was raining and blowing we made our way to the bow of the boat. The railing provided security but life jackets were still issued. The bouncing and churning had little effect on the fish. In no time we each had our limit for the day. Eli even was able to land a black rockfish that measured 26 inches, surely a record somewhere.

That evening we had a good meal provided by Schuyler and loaded our packs for the first trip to shore. Black bears were our second goal and I wanted Eli to have the experience of an up-close-and-personal experience with a bruin. 

Eli is not a stranger to bears, though; he has lived in the Arctic his entire life. Even though we don’t have black bears, we do have grizzly, which he has seen me bring home many times. This would be a new experience he was excited for.

We made it to shore and found a place to sit and wait. It has been my experience that when hunting black bears from a boat, once you’re ashore patience is the key to success. We just needed to wait it out until that magical hour when they appear from nowhere, either along the bank or in one of the many grassy flats at low tide. 

We didn’t have to wait long. A small bear appeared ahead, and we watched him for a long time. He was small and probably would have been all right for Eli’s first black bear, but he would not give us the shot we needed. Finally, he disappeared into the thick bush.

As evening lingered on, we decided to take advantage of the low tide and move into one of the salmon streams that lay in the bay. Slowly we rounded a bend in the creek and saw a big black spot in the distance. It was a good bear but still 500 yards out into the grass. We found a spot and decided to wait him out. 

Back and forth he went, finally closing the gap at 200 yards. I knew it would be an iffy shot, as the tree line was close, and Eli had never shot anything that far. The 7mm was sighted in at 3 inches high at 100, so I knew the gun was on. However, black bears are notorious for taking punishment and then leaving the scene. 

When you shoot a black bear in unfamiliar forest/surroundings, you need to kill them dead where they stand, or in most cases they get away. The last thing I wanted was a wounded bear, plus I didn’t want Eli upset, disappointed and then having to go on a chase that might never end. I’ve seen it happen many times before. 

The other problem was that even at low tide the creek was still in front of us. It was also deeper than the tops of our muck boots, and darkness and the incoming tide would soon be approaching. We decided to pass.

Not getting or taking the shot at the bear was disappointing, but it was a great learning experience for Eli and something that I actually cherish even more now after we came home. Sitting there, we had time to discuss bear size, shot placement, the “what ifs” and the “what would you do” scenarios. It was all good and in hindsight, something that created motivation for next time. 

Yes, we did see a lot of bears afterwards, but nothing of the size and stature of that one. I did get to make a couple of stalks on unexpecting bears, only to have them slip by me or catch my wind. Man, that area has a lot of bears! I can see now why they allow three per person.

THE NEXT DAY AND the remainder of the trip was primarily devoted to fishing and looking for that one big bruin. Eli did well, catching his limit of rockfish each day and then finally his halibut. His first flattie was in the 35-pound range, and to watch him crank on that reel over 300 feet of water was special. He held his ground and I was proud of him when Garrett gaffed the big boy and pulled him into the boat.

At the end of the trip, Eli landed a 100-plus-pound halibut and I missed it, but luckily they videoed the whole thing. It was quite the sight and again, I was proud of the stamina and willpower Eli demonstrated in order to get that fish up. Sadly, he had to release it due to catching one earlier in the day with a one-fish-per-day limit.

It was a great trip overall and something that I will cherish forever. We landed safely back in Homer with a boatload of fish and memories, plus met a few people we can now call good friends. You can’t ask for much better. 

Getting your kids outside and experiencing the great outdoors with what Alaska has to offer, no matter where you live in the state, is priceless. Time flies, so do it now and as much as possible, because before you know it they’ll be out the door to college or a career and doing their own thing. Seize the day! ASJ

Editor’s note: Paul Atkins is an outdoor writer and author from Kotzebue, Alaska. He has written hundreds of articles on big game hunting, and fishing throughout North America and Africa, plus surviving in the Arctic. Paul is a monthly contributor to Alaska Sporting Journal.

 

Study: Some Kodiak Brown Bears Taking Full Advantage Of Salmon Runs

Kodiak brown bear photo by Jonathan Armstrong, Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences

The following press release is courtesy of Oregon State University:

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Research shows that Kodiak brown bears that sync their stream-to-stream movements to salmon spawning patterns eat longer and more than bears that don’t, with one bear in the study consuming greater than 2 tons of fish in one summer.

Individual sockeye salmon populations spawn for about 40 days, but “resource surfing” bears can fish for three times that long, biologists have learned.

Worldwide, prolonged salmon availability is increasingly under threat from hatchery supplementation that tends to reduce the genetic diversity underpinning different spawning times. In addition, bears’ ability to follow salmon waves is hampered by industrial development such as mining.

Findings were just published in Scientific Reports.

“This study is the first to link actual metrics of bear consumption to their foraging behavior and movements,” said co-author Jonathan Armstrong, assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife in the Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences.

Armstrong collaborated with corresponding author Will Deacy and scientists from the University of Montana, Washington State University and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge to collar 33 female bears and track them for a year over a 1-million-square-kilometer portion of Kodiak Island.

At the end of those 12 months, the team recaptured 18 of the bears and took hair samples that they measured for mercury. Salmon absorb mercury from what they eat in the ocean, and the amount of mercury in a bear’s hair indicates how much fish it dined on – the more mercury, the more salmon it ate.

“Salmon consumption ranged from around 300 kilograms for one bear up to almost 2,000 kilograms for the biggest salmon eater,” said Deacy, a postdoctoral scholar at OSU. “This study complements our other research to show how bears depend on diverse salmon populations.”

On average, the bears in the study ate more than 1,000 kilograms of salmon apiece, and the more fishing sites a bear visited, the more time it spent fishing. Salmon originating from different streams return from sea to spawn at different times, making resource surfing possible.

“Results suggest that in intact watersheds with abundant salmon runs, year to year variation in salmon numbers likely has less effect on salmon consumption than individual variation in bear foraging behavior,” Deacy said. “A remaining challenge is to understand the drivers of that individual variation.”

Supporting this research were the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Flathead Lake Biological Station, the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, and the Raili Korkka Brown Bear Endowment, Nutritional Ecology Endowment and Bear Research and Conservation Endowment at Washington State.

Collaborators included Jack Stanford of Montana, Charles Robbins and Joy Erlenbach of Washington State, and William Leacock of the Kodiak refuge, who did the bear collaring and tracking.

Fish Creek Personal-Use Sockeye Fishery Opening

Photo by Tom Reale.

Palmer) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has met the escapement goal for the Fish Creek sockeye salmon run and is projecting a run in excess of 35,000 fish; therefore, ADF&G is opening the Fish Creek Personal Use Dipnet Fishery. Effective 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 24 though 11:00 p.m. Tuesday July 31, 2018, dipnetting for salmon, except king salmon, will be allowed only between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. each day. Any king salmon caught must be released immediately. Dipnetters may harvest salmon of the shore or a boat from the ADF&G markers located on both sides of the boundary of Fish Creek, upstream to ADF&G regulatory markers located approximately one-quarter mile upstream from Knik-Goose Bay Road.

This dipnet fishery is in conjunction with the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, and the total salmon household limits applies to a combination from all three fisheries. A 2018 Upper Cook Inlet dipnet permit and a resident sport fishing license is required and must be on you while dipnetting. Only Alaska residents may participate in this fishery. NO RETENTION of king salmon is allowed. Dip net permits are available at local ADF&G offices, ADF&G online store, and at participating vendors. Only one Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permit is allowed per household and permits will not be reissued for a household that has already returned its permit to ADF&G.

ADF&G reminds dipnetters to please stay off private property. The majority of property adjacent to Fish Creek downstream of the Knik-Goose Bay Road Bridge is privately owned. All of the property south of Fish Creek along Knik Arm is privately owned. Dipnetters trespassing across private property may be subject to a fine. Respect “no trespassing” signs. Permission to use private uplands for any reason must be obtained from the land owner. When accessing the mouth of Fish Creek, legal access is restricted to below the mean high tide line. Remember, all-terrain vehicles (four-wheelers) are not allowed in creeks or adjacent creekside property without a habitat permit. There is no launch for trailered boats from Knik-Goose Bay Rd. The nearest public boat launch for trailered boats is the Ship Creek boat launch in Anchorage. Dipnetters are advised to use extreme caution when fishing lower Fish Creek due to high tides and muddy conditions.

Dipnetters are reminded to review the Fisk Creek dip net regulations on page 15 of the 2018 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet.

For additional information, please contact the ADF&G Palmer Office at (907) 746-6300.

Valdez Silver Salmon Derby Kicks Off

Lavonne Kennedy with a 7.21 silver. (VALDEZFISHDERBIES.COM)

VALDEZ, Alaska – The Valdez Silver Salmon derby began Saturday and the largest fish weighed in was a 11.92 pound silver caught by Lavonne Kennedy of Valdez aboard the Lady Lavonne.

Charter Captain Sanoe Deaver said they are picking up a few silvers about an hour and a half out of Valdez by Goose island. “They’re slowly coming in, but they’re out there”, Deaver said.

There are daily 1st and 2nd place prizes in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby as well as a $10,000 first place prize. Lavonne Kennedy took 1st place for opening day and Anne Branshaw was 2nd place for the day with a 11.14 pound silver she caught aboard the Highmark.

William Howe with a 187-pound halibut caught during the Valdez Halibut Derby. (VALDEZFISHDERBIES.COM)

In the Valdez Halibut Derby, Doug Cranor of Valdez is still leading the way with the 239.0 pound halibut he caught June 23rd. Weekly winners were William Howe of Fairbanks with a 187.0 pound halibut and Todd Carsten of Valdez with a 145.4 pound halibut. Halibut anglers are doing well. Charters have been able to reach the fishing grounds and have been bringing back numerous rock fish and lingcod in addition to their halibut.

Pink salmon fishing was amazing for the Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby. More than 300 fish were weighed in on Saturday. The biggest pink salmon in the derby this year was a 7.80 pound pink caught by Liliana Garcia of Fairbanks. Garcia is no stranger to the Kids Derby having placed 2nd in 2014 with a 5.06 pound fish in the 5 to 7 year-old age division. Garcia also just made it onto the list of anglers catching the Top 10 biggest fish ever caught in the Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby. Garcia’s fish took the 10th spot on the list.

The pinks will be around awhile for everyone to catch, but there are also some trout fisheries that have been fun for kids. Ruth Pond and Blueberry Lake were recently stocked with catchable size rainbow trout.

Valdez Fish Derbies is now gearing up for Silver Salmon Big Prize Friday and the 2018 Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby. Big Prize Friday is July 27th and the angler catching the largest silver salmon that day will win $500 in addition to the regular prizes. The Women’s Silver Salmon Derby is Saturday, August 11th with an opening event on Friday, August 10th. The theme of this year’s Women’s Derby is “Circus”. Valdez Fish Derbies Women’s Derby Page on the Valdez Fish Derbies website has all the information.


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        Tim Ingraham              North Pole, AK                        214.2lbs.          July 7               Jaime Lynn

Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners

1st        William Howe              Fairbanks, AK             187.0 lbs.         July 19             Jaime Lynn
2nd        Tod Carsten                 Valdez, AK                   145.4 lbs.        July 21             Straydog

Silver Salmon Derby – Overall Leaders

1st        Lavonne Kennedy       Valdez, AK                  11.92 lbs.         July 21             Lady Lavonne
2nd        Anne Branshaw           Valdez, AK                  11.14 lbs.         July 21             Highmark
3rd        Glenna Wiehe              Big Lake, AK               10.48 lbs.         July 21             Crista June

For more information on the Valdez Derbies, visit: www.valdezfishderbies.com