Southcentral Alaska Fishing Recap

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

(Anchorage) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Division of Sport Fish has published the 2019 Southcentral Season Summary reports for the eight Southcentral management areas. The reports cover the AnchorageBristol BayKodiakLower Cook InletNorthern Cook InletNorth Gulf CoastNorthern Kenai Peninsula, and Prince William Sound management areas and provide a comprehensive review of the sport fishing management actions ADF&G implemented preseason and throughout the 2019 sport fishery season. The reports also include a table of the Southcentral escapement goals and actual escapements from 2010-2019.

Anglers can review the individual 2019 Southcentral Season Summary reports by area on the ADF&G Southcentral Sport Fish Reports webpage.

For additional information about management actions, please contact the local ADF&G management area office.

Some recaps for Southcentral management areas:

ANCHORAGE

Ship Creek

King salmon fishing in Ship Creek was good this season. 891 king salmon were collected in the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery raceway. An estimated 497 king salmon were counted in the creek below the hatchery. The hatchery was able to meet the broodstock goal of 460 king salmon.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Sockeye Salmon
Resurrection Bay

Anglers reported good sockeye salmon fishing in Resurrection Bay. On June 11, 2019, over 11,538 sockeye salmon had passed through the Bear Creek weir, with large numbers of sockeye salmon still entering the river. Bear Lake sockeye salmon have a Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 700-8,300 fish and is managed to escape 5,152–12,752 sockeye salmon, which meets both the SEG and the Trail Lakes Hatchery broodstock requirements. The final escapement was approximately 12,779 sockeye salmon.

Management Actions

On June 14, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to twelve fish per day and in possession in the marine waters of Resurrection Bay north of a line from Caines Head to the north point of Thumb Cove. The sockeye salmon limits were increased to six fish per day and in possession in the freshwaters open to sockeye salmon. In addition, a section of the Resurrection River freshwaters opened early.

Prince William Sound

Salmon fishing in the Coghill River was reported as fair this season. On July 26, 2019, over 29,382 sockeye salmon had passed through the Coghill River weir. The sockeye salmon escapement goal range for the Coghill River is 20,000-60,000 fish.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Coho Salmon
Ship Creek

Coho salmon fishing in Ship Creek this season was reported as good. The William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery collected 508 coho salmon for broodstock. Additionally, 363 coho salmon were counted by foot survey immediately in the creek below the hatchery.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Resurrection Bay

Coho salmon fishing in Resurrection Bay was hit or miss this season. Anglers fishing from a boat were having better success then shore based anglers. The Bear Creek coho salmon stock is currently on track to provide adequate broodstock. Coho salmon egg takes, and escapement surveys will be conducted in early October.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Prince William Sound

Coho salmon fishing has been fair in Whittier. Fleming Spit did not have fish returning this year because stocking did not take place due to a low broodstock year in 2016. Coho salmon fishing in Valdez has been reported by anglers as fair to good. It is too early to determine if broodstock goals have been met by the Valdez Fisheries Development Association and Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation hatcheries (PWSAC). Both locations are stocked by PWSAC and are terminal harvest areas. No formal surveys are conducted for coho salmon in Prince William Sound.

Management Actions

To date, no management actions have been implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Copper River Delta

Salmon fishing on the Copper River Delta has been poor. This season the water levels have been low, and the Delta has been experiencing unusually dry conditions. Ibeck Creek had a fish stranding where 1,500-2,000 fish died or were harvested by federal subsistence anglers. Based on aerial surveys, as of September 29, 2019, the Copper River Delta coho salmon return is anticipated to be below the SEG of 32,000-67,000 fish. The coho salmon return is still being assessed.

Management Actions

On September 18, 2019, the use of bait was prohibited in all Cooper River Highway streams.

On September 25, 2019, coho salmon limits were reduced to one fish per day and two in possession in the Copper River Highway streams.

Shrimp
Prince William Sound

The Total Allowable Harvest (TAH= 170,189 pounds) was established from the results of the fall 2018 Prince William Sound shrimp survey. The Guideline Harvest Level (GHL) for the noncommercial (sport and subsistence) shrimp fishery harvest was established to be 102,100 pounds. This was very similar to the TAH and GHL established for the 2018 season. Approximately 4,274 noncommercial permits were issued in 2019. Effort and harvest is assessed post-season after harvest reports are received. Anecdotal reports from anglers indicate that shrimping was good this season.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective April 15, 2019, reduced the number of allowable noncommercial shrimp pots per person and per vessel to three pots.

See the printable PDF version, which includes a table of Region II Escapement Goals and Escapements (2010-2019).

BRISTOL BAY

Naknek River

Based on inseason information from anglers and guides, the inriver king salmon abundance seemed to be good despite the run appearing to be late and fishing generally below average. Angler effort appeared to be near average; however, higher than average water temperatures negatively impacted the success rate of anglers.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season

Alagnak River

During the 2018 Bristol Bay Board of Fish meeting, the Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 2,700 king salmon was dropped and aerial surveys were discontinued. Inseason reports from anglers and guides indicated a fair inriver abundance of king salmon despite the run appearing to be late. Angler effort appeared to be near average and reports on the river indicated a range of success from poor to good by various operators. An onsite angler survey for the 2019 season yielded a high count of 41 anglers on July 9, 2019.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Nushagak-Mulchatna River

The preliminary estimate of king salmon passing the Portage Creek sonar was 47,882 salmon. King salmon are managed to achieve an inriver return of 95,000 fish to provide for 55,000-120,000 spawning salmon.

Commercial, sport, and subsistence catch information indicated a late return that was likely below the historical average. Unprecedented high water temperatures and low water levels were likely key factors affecting fish movement this season. Approximately 20,783 king salmon were harvested during the sockeye salmon commercial fishery. Harvest estimates for the sport and subsistence fisheries are not currently available. Reports from anglers, guides, and subsistence users suggest a below average harvest in the sport fishery and an average harvest in the subsistence fishery. The higher than average water temperatures noticeably affected the success rate of anglers; however, effort appeared to be near average.

Management Actions

On July 3, 2019, the limits for king salmon, 20 inches or greater in length, were reduced to one fish per day with an annual limit of two fish in the Nushagak-Mulchatna River drainage.

On July 10, 2019, the retention of king salmon of any size and the use of bait were prohibited on the Nushagak-Mulchatna River drainage.

Togiak River

Based on inseason reports from anglers, guides, and subsistence users, inriver king salmon abundance was good for the duration of the run from late June through late July, and angler effort appeared to be average.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Sockeye Salmon

Naknek River

The sockeye salmon escapement exceeded the SEG range of 800,000-2.0 million fish for the Naknek River with an estimate of 2.9 million salmon.

Management Actions

On July 10, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to ten fish per day and in possession in all waters of the Naknek River drainage.

Kvichak River

The sockeye salmon escapement was within the SEG range of 2.0-10.0 million fish for the Kvichak River with an estimate of 2.3 million salmon.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Alagnak River

The sockeye salmon escapement exceeded the lower bound SEG of 210,000 fish with an estimate of 820,458 salmon.

Management Actions

On July 16, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to ten fish per day and in possession in all waters of the Alagnak River drainage.

Nushagak-Mulchatna River

The sockeye salmon escapement was within the SEG range of 370,000-900,000 fish with an estimate of 709,349 salmon.

Management Actions

On July 5, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to ten fish per day and in possession in all waters of the Nushagak-Mulchatna River drainage, excluding the Wood River drainage.

Wood River

The sockeye salmon escapement exceeded the SEG range of 700,000-1.8 million fish with an estimate of 2.1 million salmon.

Management Actions

On July 5, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to ten fish per day and in possession in all waters of the Wood River drainage.

Togiak River

The sockeye salmon escapement exceeded the SEG range of 120,000-270,000 fish with an estimate of 351,846 salmon.

Management Actions

On July 27, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to ten fish per day and in possession in all waters of the Togiak River drainage.

Coho Salmon

Naknek River

Based on reports from anglers and guides, inriver abundance of coho salmon was good for the duration of the run from late July through early September despite the run appearing to be slightly late. Higher than average water temperatures noticeably affected the success rate of anglers; however, angler effort appeared to be near average.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Nushagak-Mulchatna River

The preliminary estimate of coho salmon passing the Portage Creek sonar was 51,852 salmon. Coho salmon are managed to achieve an inriver return of 70,000-130,000 fish to provide for 60,000-120,000 spawning salmon.

Sport and subsistence catch information indicated an average to slightly below average return during 2019 despite the lower indication given by the sonar. Approximately 28,195 coho salmon were harvested in the commercial fishery. Commercial fishing in the Nushagak Section of the Nushagak District was closed on July 31, 2019. Harvest estimates for the sport and subsistence fisheries are not available; however, angler, guide, and subsistence user reports suggest an average to below average harvest in the sport and subsistence fisheries. Higher than average water temperatures noticeably affected the success rate of anglers; however, effort appeared to be near average.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Togiak River

Based on reports from anglers and guides, inriver abundance was good to very good for the duration of the run from early August through early September. Angler effort appeared to be near average

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

See the printable PDF version, which includes a table of Region II Escapement Goals and Escapements (2010-2019).

NORTHERN KENAI

Kenai River Early Run

The outlook for the early-run of Kenai River king salmon in 2019 was below average, with a large fish (>75 cm mid eye to tail fork length or approximately >34 inches in total length) forecast of 3,168 fish. The 2019 forecasted total run of large king salmon was less than the Optimal Escapement Goal (OEG) of 3,900-6,600 fish which prevented the fishery from opening without restrictions. The run-timing to the river mile 14 sonar for large king salmon was on time at the quarter point of June 4, 2019, and one day early on June 10 at the average mid-point of June 11. The estimated preliminary total in-river run of 4,188 fish was larger than the forecast but remained well below the historical average.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2019, prohibited the retention of early-run king salmon in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker at the outlet of Skilak Lake through June 30. The retention of king salmon continued to be prohibited from July 1 through July 31, from an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek upstream to the outlet of Skilak lake. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed in waters restricted to catch-and-release.

On July 4, 2019, king salmon fishing reopened in the Kenai River from an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream of the mouth of Slikok Creek upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker located at the outlet of Skilak Lake to the retention of king salmon under general regulations.

Inseason Sampling

Netting

Approximately 59% were ?750 mm in total length.

Sex ratio all-sized king salmon was 33% male and 67% female.

About 91% of king salmon sampled were two to five ocean fish (14% 700mm – 899 mm, 65% 500 mm – 699 mm, 12% 900 mm – 1,099 mm, and 1% >1100 mm).

Harvest

Zero king salmon were harvested in the early-run sport fishery.

Table 1. Summary of preliminary catch, harvest, and escapement, Kenai River early-run king salmon (?750 mm) fishery, 2019
Escapement Goal Range 3,900 to 6,600 large king salmon (?750 mm)
Total Catcha 79
Total Harvesta Below sonar = 0; Above sonar = 0; Total = 0
Sonar Estimate In-River 4,186
Preliminary Escapement Approximately 4,173
aLower river (below Soldotna Bridge).
Kenai River Late Run

The outlook for the late-run of Kenai River king salmon in 2019 was well below average, with a large king salmon (>75 cm mid eye to tail fork length) forecast of approximately 21,746 fish. Although the forecasted total run of large fish approximated the mid-point of the large fish Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 13,500-27,000 fish, historical harvest data indicated the SEG would not be met without restricting fisheries. Based on the estimated mean of the mid-point for 2013-2018 runs of July 26, the 2019 run was four days early. The preliminary inseason estimate of the total run of large king salmon is 14,020 fish. The preliminary escapement estimate is 11,671 large king salmon.

Management Actions

On July 1, 2019, bait was prohibited on the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek. Anglers were allowed to harvest king salmon on the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek. This restriction was in conjunction with the Kenai River early-run king salmon sport fishing restrictions prohibiting the retention of king salmon of any size from ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake.

Inseason Sampling

Netting

Approximately 60% were ?750 mm in total length.

Sex ratios for fish ?500 mm was 35% female and 65% male.

About 94% of king salmon sampled were two to five ocean fish (22% 500 mm – 699 mm, 44% 700 mm – 899 mm, 27% 900 mm – 1,099 mm, and 1% >1,100 mm).

Harvest

47% of the harvest was comprised of large (?750 mm) king salmon.

49% of the king salmon ?750 mm harvested were female.

Table 1. Summary of preliminary catch, harvest, and escapement, Kenai River late-run king salmon (? 750 mm) fishery, 2019
Escapement Goal Range 13,700 to 27,000 large king salmon (?750 mm)
Total Catcha 890
Total Harvesta Below sonar = 265; Above sonar = 507; Total = 772
Sonar Estimate In-River 11,868
Preliminary Escapement Approximately 11,671
aLower river (below Soldotna Bridge).
Kasilof River

This spring, approximately 126,600 king salmon smolt were successfully stocked into Crooked Creek to augment natural production and enhance recreational fishing opportunity in the Kasilof River. The natural component of the Crooked Creek early-run king salmon return is managed to achieve SEG of 650-1,700 king salmon. The estimated escapement of wild (naturally-produced) king salmon was 1,444 fish. The egg take goal for future stocking of Crooked Creek was 32 pairs of naturally-produced king salmon of which 45 pairs were spawned in 2019.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2019, restricted the early-run king salmon limits to one hatchery fish, 20 inches or greater in length, in the Kasilof River drainage. The retention of naturally-produced king salmon was prohibited. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed.

On July 1, 2019, bait and multiple hooks were prohibited in the Kasilof River drainage.

Sockeye Salmon
Kenai River

The Upper Cook Inlet sockeye salmon forecast projected a total run of 6.0 million fish: 3.8 million fish in the Kenai River, 873,000 fish in the Kasilof River, with the remaining 1.3 million fish comprised of Susitna River and unmonitored systems. Based on the preseason forecast, the sockeye salmon run was managed on the middle tier for runs of 2.3-4.6 million Kenai River sockeye salmon, with an inriver goal of 1.0-1.3 million sockeye salmon. On July 26, 2019, ADF&G projected the total Kenai River sockeye salmon run would be between 2.3-4.6 million fish. The preliminary inriver Kenai River sonar passage estimate was 1,849,054 sockeye salmon.

Management Actions

On July 28, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to six fish per day and twelve fish in possession from the mouth of the Kenai River to Skilak Lake.

Russian River – Early Run

The escapement goal for Russian River early-run sockeye salmon is a Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) of 22,000-44,000 fish. The weir count on July 14, 2019, was 125,942 sockeye salmon, significantly exceeding the upper end of the BEG.

Management Actions

On June 12, 2019, the Russian River Sanctuary area opened early for sport fishing.

On June 14, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to six fish per day and twelve fish in possession for the Russian River and a section of the mainstem Upper Kenai River. 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 (this includes the Russian River Sanctuary Area) and the Russian River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker located approximately 600 yards downstream from the Russian River Falls.

On June 19, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to nine fish per day and eighteen fish in possession for the Russian River and a section of the mainstem Upper Kenai River. 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 (this includes the Russian River Sanctuary Area) and the Russian River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G marker located approximately 600 yards downstream from the Russian River Falls.

Russian River – Late Run

The escapement goal for Russian River late-run sockeye salmon is a SEG of 30,000-110,000 fish. Due to the Swan Lake Fire, the Russian River field camp and weir was evacuated and subsequently pulled on August 18, 2019. The weir count on August 18 at approximately 12:00 p.m. was 64,585 sockeye salmon.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery.

Kasilof River

The forecast for Kasilof River sockeye salmon was 873,000 fish. Kasilof sockeye salmon are managed for a BEG of 160,000-340,000 salmon, and an OEG of 160,000-390,000 fish. The sockeye salmon sonar quit enumerating salmon passage on August 12, 2019, with a preliminary estimate of 378,416 fish.

Management Actions

On July 24, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to six fish per day and twelve fish in possession; however, no more than two fish per day and in possession could be coho salmon, in all portions of the Kasilof River open to salmon fishing.

Coho Salmon
Kenai River

Freshwater guide logbook reports were discontinued in 2019. These guide logbook reports were used in the past to gauge Kenai River coho salmon sport catch, harvest, and angler effort. Angler reports indicate that coho salmon were showing up in the harvest during the last week of July and catches were reported as good through August and slowed in September.

Management Actions

On August 6, 2019, bait and multiple hooks were prohibited in the in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to Skilak Lake to minimize incidental catch of late-run king salmon.

Personal Use Dip Net Fisheries
Kasilof River and Kenai River

Final results from the 2019 season have not been compiled, but preliminary information indicates 21,180 Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits were issued electronically. The number of paper permits and total permits issued is not yet known. Typically, about 80% of the Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits have some Kenai River harvest reported on them. The Kasilof River dipnet fishery was open by regulation June 25-August 7 with expanded fishing area allowed on July 24, 2019. The Kenai River dipnet fishery opened by regulation on July 10 and personal use fisherman were allowed to fish 24 hours a day beginning on July 27, 2019.

Harvest Reports

The total number of Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits issued for the 2019 season is not yet known. Nonetheless, 8,241 Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits have been returned to date via online reporting, an initial return rate of 39%. A reminder letter will be mailed to permit holders who have not yet returned their harvest record. Typically, permit returns from the reminder letters brings the total permit returns to approximately 83%. Harvest data will be keypunched by the end of October and estimates of total harvest will be available in January 2020.

Management Actions

On July 10, 2019, the retention of king salmon in the Kenai River personal use fishery was prohibited.

On July 24, 2019, the Kasilof River dipnetting area was expanded. Dipnetting from the shore was allowed from ADF&G markers on Cook Inlet beaches upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge and boat dipnetting was allowed from ADF&G markers located on Cook Inlet beaches upstream to ADF&G markers at approximately river mile 3 of the Kasilof River.

On July 27, 2019, the Kenai River personal use fishery was opened 24 hours per day.

See the printable PDF version, which includes a table of Region II Escapement Goals and Escapements (2008-2018).

KODIAK

Ayakulik River

The king salmon run fell below the Biological Escapement Goal (BEG) of 4,800-8,400 fish with a weir count of 1,948 king salmon. The mid-point of the run occurred on June 17, 2019, which is similar to historical run-timing. The Ayakulik River king salmon run has seen declines since 2006. The escapement objectives have been met some years; however, in the most recent years the escapement objectives have not been meet. In many years, a significant portion of the estimated daily fish passage numbers occurs during the king salmon run when the weir is flooding.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective June 1, 2019, prohibited the retention of king salmon in the Ayakulik River drainage and only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed.

On June 26, 2019, king salmon fishing closed on the Ayakulik River drainage and only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed.

Table 1. Summary of preliminary catch, harvest and escapement, Ayakulik River king salmon fishery, 2019.
Escapement Goal Range BEG = 4,800-8,400
Total Catch TBD
Total Harvest 0
Weir Count 1,948
Preliminary Escapement 1,948
Karluk River

The king salmon run was within the BEG of 3,000-7,000 fish with a weir count of 3,898 king salmon. This is the second consecutive year and the fifth time in the last ten years the run has been within the BEG. The mid-point of the run occurred on June 23, 2019, which is similar to historical run-timing and the same day as 2018. The Karluk River has been not been open to the harvest of king salmon since 2007 and sport fishing for king salmon has been entirely closed since 2008.

Management Actions

” A preseason emergency order effective June 1, 2019, closed the Karluk River drainage to fishing for king salmon and only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed.

Table 2. Summary of preliminary catch, harvest and escapement, Karluk River king salmon fishery, 2019.
Escapement Goal Range BEG = 3,000 to 6,000
Total Catch TBD
Total Harvest 0
Weir Count 3,898
Preliminary Escapement 3,898
Chignik River

The king salmon run was within the BEG of 1,300-2,700 fish with a weir count of 1,517 king salmon and was slightly lower than the recent 10-year average. The mid-point of the run occurred on July 12, 2019, which is similar to historical run-timing.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Table 3. Summary of preliminary catch, harvest and escapement, Chignik River king salmon fishery, 2019.
Escapement Goal Range BEG = 1,300-2,700
Total Catch TBD
Total Harvest TBD
Weir Count 1,517
Preliminary Escapement 1,417
Nelson River

The 2019 weir count for king salmon was 11,653 fish. This was well above the BEG of 2,400-4,400 salmon and nearly an all-time record count. There is no retention in this fishery throughout the season based on regulations enacted in 2011. The weir count does not include a post-season estimate of fish observed below the weir when it was pulled. The mid-point of the run occurred on July 16, 2019, which is similar to historical run-timing.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery.

Table 4. Summary of preliminary catch, harvest and escapement, Nelson River king salmon fishery, 2019.
Escapement Goal Range BEG = 2,400 to 4,400
Total Catch TBD
Total Harvest 0
Weir Count 11,653
Preliminary Escapement 11,653
Stocked Kodiak Road System Streams

Each year the Olds River, American River, and Salonie Creek are stocked with up to 80,000 king salmon smolt. The stocked Kodiak road system streams had low returns this year and there was little harvest in this fishery for the third year in a row. Returns to the Olds River produced some early king salmon that were caught in Kalsin Bay and the lower Olds River, but much fewer than expected. Returns to the American River were also lower than expected though anglers did catch some fish, primarily 1- and 2-year ocean king salmon jacks. Salonie Creek had a few more fish return and was the primary collection point for broodstock for the project this season. Persistent dry conditions prevailed through the king salmon runs this season and may have also contributed to a lack of king salmon escapement in these rivers. Egg take goals were not met this year. To compensate for this shortfall, extra coho salmon will be stocked to supplement king salmon production. The 2019 king salmon egg take spawned 10 pairs which should produce at least 40,000 smolt, though this is far short of the goal to release 200,000 king salmon smolt. Coho salmon will be taken again from Pillar Creek in early November to supplement this shortfall.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Sockeye Salmon
Karluk River

The early sockeye salmon run fell within the BEG of 150,000-250,000 fish with a weir count of 186,510 sockeye salmon. Little harvest occurs upstream of the weir and escapement is likely equal to the weir count. Harvest of sockeye salmon by anglers on the Karluk River is minimal compared to the size of the run but it remains one of the larger sockeye salmon sport fisheries on Kodiak.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery.

Ayakulik River

The early sockeye salmon run fell within the BEG of 140,000-280,000 fish with a weir count of 162,430 sockeye salmon. Harvest of sockeye salmon by anglers on the Ayakulik River is minimal compared to the size of the run but it is one of the larger sockeye salmon sport fisheries on Kodiak.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery.

Dog Salmon (Frazer) River

The sockeye salmon run fell within the BEG of 75,000-170,000 fish with a count of 169,627 sockeye salmon at the Frazer Lake fish pass where escapement estimates are derived. Harvest of sockeye salmon by anglers on the Dog Salmon River downstream of the fish pass is minimal compared to the size of the run but it is also one of the larger sockeye salmon sport fisheries on Kodiak.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Buskin River

The sockeye salmon run was above the BEG of 5,000-8,000 fish with a weir count of 12,296 sockeye salmon. No harvest occurs upstream of the weir which is located just downstream from Buskin Lake and escapement is equal to the weir count. The mid-point of the run occurred on June 25, 2019, which is about 10 days later than historical run-timing.

Management Actions

On June 28, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were increased to five fish per day and in possession in the Buskin River drainage.

Saltery Cove

The sockeye salmon run was within the BEG of 15,000-35,000 fish with a weir count of 22,183 sockeye salmon though this was the lowest count on record for this run. No harvest occurs upstream of the weir and escapement is equal to the weir count. The mid-point of the run occurred on July 28, 2019, which is later than historical run-timing. This is the largest freshwater sport fishery on Kodiak by angler effort and harvest for a single stock. The 2019 run was similar to the 2018 and was small in comparison to most years; however, the run was well within the escapement goal range.

Management Actions

On July 24, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were reduced to two fish per day and in possession in the Saltery River drainage.

On August 9, 2019, the sockeye salmon limits were restored to five fish per day and in possession in the Saltery River drainage.

Pasagshak River

The sockeye salmon run was above the lower bound Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 3,000 fish with a weir count of 4,537 sockeye salmon. No harvest occurs upstream of the weir and escapement is equal to the weir count. The mid-point of the run occurred on July 21, 2019, which is similar to historical run-timing. The weir has only been in operation since 2011.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Afognak (Litnik) River

The sockeye salmon run was within the BEG of 20,000-50,000 fish with a weir count of 26,817 sockeye salmon. The mid-point of the run occurred on June 15, 2019 and was similar to historical run-timing.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Coho Salmon
Buskin River

The BEG for Buskin River coho salmon is 4,700-9,600 fish and the 2019 weir count was 5,537 salmon, though escapement estimates subtract sport harvest above the weir and will be lower than the weir count. The run was very late and almost all fish were counted in the last few days of September and first few days of October. Coho salmon are still entering the Buskin River though the weir has been pulled for the season.

Management Actions

On September 18, 2019, coho salmon fishing closed on the Buskin River drainage.

On October 4, 2019, the Buskin River drainage reopened to coho salmon fishing with the regular bag limit of 1 fish per day and in possession.

Olds River

The lower bound SEG for Olds River coho salmon is 1,000 fish and the 2019 run is ongoing. The 2019 run is expected to be above the range and the run appears to be normal, though the Olds River was also affected by low water conditions for much of August and September. The latest drone survey showed that there were significant schools of fish in many of the pools in the lower river. The Olds River coho salmon run is assessed via in season drone surveys and post season foot surveys. Final escapement estimates will be documented via post season foot surveys in October or November.

Management Actions

To date, no management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

American River

The lower bound SEG for American River coho salmon is 400 fish and the 2019 run is ongoing. The 2019 run is expected to be above the range and the run appears average to strong so far. The latest drone survey was not able to detect coho salmon due to a large number of pink salmon in the river but on the ground observations show significant numbers of coho salmon mixed in with pink salmon. The American River coho salmon run is assessed via in season drone surveys and post season foot surveys. Final escapement estimates will be documented via post season foot surveys in October or November.

Management Actions

To date, no management actions have been implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

Pasagshak River – Preliminary Summary

The lower bound SEG for Pasagshak River coho salmon is 1,200 fish and the 2019 run is ongoing. The 2019 run is expected to be above the range and recent observations indicate a strong run. The latest drone survey showed several large schools of coho salmon in Lake Rose Tead. The Pasagshak River coho salmon run is assessed via in season drone surveys and post season foot surveys. Final escapement estimates will be documented via post season foot surveys in November.

Management Actions

To date, no management actions have been implemented during the 2019 sport fishery season.

See the printable PDF version, which includes a table of Region II Escapement Goals and Escapements (2010-2019).

SOUTHERN KENAI

 

Anchor River

The 2019 preseason inriver forecast of 5,356 king salmon fell within the Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 3,800-7,600 fish; however, the second-poorest escapement ever recorded in 2018 prompted preseason restrictions to the sport fishery. King salmon escapement was monitored on the South and North forks of Anchor River beginning in early-May and continued through early-August. The SEG was met with a preliminary escapement estimate of 5,691 fish. The cumulative run-timing to both forks (June 23) was 11 days late compared to the average mid-point of June 14. The sport fishery occurred on three three-day weekends but was closed on Wednesdays and gear was restricted to one unbaited single-hook, artificial lure throughout the season.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective April 1, 2019, prohibited fishing for king salmon in the Anchor River on the first and fifth opening weekend and the five Wednesday openings in May and June 2019.

Closure dates were: May 18-20, May 22, May 29, June 5, June 12, June 15-17, and June 19.

Open dates were: May 25-27, June 1-3, and June 8-10.

A preseason emergency order effective April 1, 2019, restricted fishing gear to one, unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River drainages.

A preseason emergency order effective Aril 1, 2019, combined the annual limit of two king salmon between the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River, and all saltwaters between Bluff Point and the Ninilchik River.

Ninilchik River

No preseason forecast was estimated for the 2019 wild Ninilchik River king salmon run. Hatchery king salmon are stocked in the Ninilchik River to support the inriver sport fishery. The fishery occurred with preseason restrictions that limited gear to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure and prohibited the retention of wild king salmon. The harvest of hatchery king salmon was allowed during both the three 3-day weekends and the hatchery only season.

King salmon escapement was fully enumerated just above the fishery for the first time at approximately two miles. An instream video weir operated from mid-May to early-August at this location, and the count was 1,664 wild king salmon and 1,719 hatchery-reared king salmon. The mid-point of the wild and hatchery-reared runs to the lower weir were within one week of each other, on June 18, 2019, and June 23, respectively.

The broodstock collection weir, located approximately five miles upstream from the mouth, was still used to monitor escapement in regards to meeting the current SEG of 750-1,300 wild king salmon. The broodstock collection weir location also used instream video and was operated from mid-May through mid-August. The wild weir count was 1,296 king salmon and the hatchery-reared weir count was 1,171 king salmon. After accounting for the removal of broodstock, the escapement was 1,185 wild king salmon, which met the SEG. Based on weir counts at both locations, 78% of the wild king salmon and 68% of the hatchery-reared king salmon counted through the lower weir also reached the broodstock collection weir.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective April 1, 2019, reduced the king salmon limits to one hatchery king salmon, 20 inches or greater in length, in the Ninilchik River drainage

A preseason emergency order effective April 1, 2019, restricted fishing gear to one, unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River drainages.

A preseason emergency order effective Aril 1, 2019, combined the annual limit of two king salmon between the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River, and all saltwaters between Bluff Point and the Ninilchik River.

Deep Creek

No preseason forecast was estimated for the 2019 Deep Creek king salmon run. The fishery began with preseason restrictions based on management actions for the Anchor River and forecasted poor runs throughout Cook Inlet. Deep Creek has a Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 350 king salmon and was assessed post-season via a single aerial survey. The 2019 survey occurred on July 22, and 751 king salmon were counted, which achieved the SEG. The 2019 king salmon escapement was also fully enumerated using an ARIS sonar and underwater video weir located approximately 2.5 miles upstream from the mouth. The preliminary escapement estimate is 3,495 king salmon with the mid-point of the run on June 27.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective April 1, 2019, restricted fishing gear to one, unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River drainages.

A preseason emergency order effective Aril 1, 2019, combined the annual limit of two king salmon between the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River, and all saltwaters between Bluff Point and the Ninilchik River.

Marine Fisheries

Sport fishing for king salmon in Cook Inlet was popular in both the Winter (September 1-March 31) and the Summer (April 1-August 31) fisheries. The summer fishery in north of Bluff Point began with preseason restrictions to protect king salmon returning to Cook Inlet drainages. Statewide Harvest Survey harvest estimates for these fisheries and will not be available until 2020. In general, fishing was good and angler effort was high in the fall months of the winter fishery. Effort was low in Upper Cook Inlet during the summer fishery.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective Aril 1, 2019, combined the annual limit of two king salmon between the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River, and all saltwaters between Bluff Point and the Ninilchik River.

Razor Clams
Eastside

All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches remained closed to sport and personal use clamming in 2019 due to the continued historical low abundances of mature-sized razor clams at Clam Gulch and Ninilchik. The affected area runs from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit. Little recruitment of new juvenile clams was detected at the Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches during the spring abundance surveys. Abundance of juvenile clams is still well above historical average and are expected to start recruiting to the adult size in 2020.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective January 1, 2019, closed all Eastside Cook Inlet beaches to clamming for all species from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit for 2019.

Westside

The Westside Cook Inlets beaches remained open to commercial, sport, and personal use clamming in 2019. Harvest estimates for the sport fishery are not available yet.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery.

Terminal Stocked
Salmon Fisheries
Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon

In 2019, the stocking goals were met for Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (NDFL) on the Homer Spit with approximately 315,000 king salmon smolt and 120,000 coho salmon smolt. This year’s king salmon stocking was a 30% increase over recent annual stockings. Statewide Harvest Survey estimates harvest for these fisheries and will not be available until 2020. Overall, the king salmon fishery was likely below-average harvest and the coho salmon fishery was likely average.

Management Actions

On July 4, 2019, snagging was allowed in the NDFL from July 4-7 to harvest the remainder of the king salmon milling in the lagoon prior to coho salmon returning..

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 coho salmon sport fishery season.

Personal Use Fisheries
China Poot Creek

The China Poot Creek personal use dip net fishery does not require a permit for participation so there is no harvest and effort data available for 2019. Participants reported consistently fair to good sockeye salmon harvest opportunity.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 personal use fishery.

Tanner Crab
Cook Inlet Tanner Crab

The 2018-2019 season occurred from October 1, 2018, through February 28, 2019. The preliminary combined harvest was 8,319 based on permit-reported harvest. The Kachemak Bay Tanner crab trawl survey was conducted in late-May 2019. The survey estimated an abundance of 273,511 legal male Tanner crab which is a 23% increase from 2018. The 2018-2019 sport and subsistence fisheries are scheduled to open on October 1, 2019. Permits are only available through ADF&Gs online store.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2018-2019 tanner crab fishery season

See the printable PDF version, which includes a table of Region II Escapement Goals and Escapements (2010-2019).

MAT-SU

Greater Susitna River/Knik Arm Area

Emergency orders released preseason targeted a 100% reduction in king salmon harvest in the Susitna and Little Susitna rivers drainages through closure of fisheries. Typically, 5-year old fish constitute about half a given year’s run and on the Deshka River for the second year in a row, sibling models suggested a potential weak run of 5-year old fish in 2019. There was also uncertainty in the forecast of 4-year old fish in 2019. The low forecast of 5-year old fish was due to low abundance of 4-year old fish on the Deshka River in 2018. Given the low abundance of 4-year old fish in 2018 was widespread throughout the Susitna drainage, it was assumed the low Deshka River forecast would be reflective of other areas of the Susitna River drainage during 2019. Also, most escapement goals were missed in 2017 while allowing restricted harvest to occur over much of the season. All escapement goals were missed in 2018 when catch-and-release was allowed. Given the potential for the 2019 Susitna River king salmon returns to be less than 2017 and 2018, total closure was warranted and the most conservative action implemented.

Westside Susitna Tributaries

The Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) for the Deshka River of 13,000-28,000 king salmon was not achieved. The final weir count was 9,711 king salmon. Water temperatures rose to 21 °C by June 20, 2019, around the midpoint of a typical run, stalling salmon migration. Waters progressively warmed as water levels dropped, resulting in negligible fish passage and a cumulative count of about 7,500 fish through a 20-day period. During this period, king salmon were likely holding in the cooler waters of the Susitna River downstream of the Deshka River mouth. Once stream conditions improved around July 11, about 2,000 more fish passed over a 7-day period. However, the number of fish holding was ultimately insufficient to achieve the escapement goal. Aerial escapement surveys were conducted postseason on four other westside streams. Escapement goals were achieved on the Talachulitna River, Lake Creek, and Peters Creek. The survey on Alexander Creek of 1,297 fish, although below goal, was the highest count since 2005. This stock is likely depressed by a combination of low marine survival and northern pike predation. Intensive pike suppression work conducted by ADF&G since 2010 may be improving freshwater survival of juveniles.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2019, closed king salmon fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainages for the season. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed in the waters normally open to king salmon fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainages. Sport fishing for other species was allowed seven days per week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. including the waters in Unit 2 that are normally closed on certain days during the king salmon season.

Eastside Susitna Tributaries

Management decisions effecting Eastside Susitna streams (Units 2, 3, 5, and 6) are based upon postseason aerial surveys over eight streams, which have established escapement goals. Surveys provide an annual index of abundance. Three of six goals were achieved in this area of the Susitna River drainage in 2019. Willow, Montana, and Prairie creeks failed to meet their escapement goals, while goals on Little Willow and Clear creeks and Chulitna River were met. Sheep and Goose creeks were not counted as cloudy water conditions due to the semi glacial nature of these streams prevailed.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2019, closed king salmon fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainages for the season. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed in the waters normally open to king salmon fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainages. Sport fishing for other species was allowed seven days per week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. including the waters in Unit 2 that are normally closed on certain days during the king salmon season.

Knik Arm

The Little Susitna River and the stocked terminal fishery at Eklutna Tailrace are the only Knik Arm streams open to the harvest of king salmon by regulation. The SEG for the Little Susitna River of 2,100-3,900 king salmon as assessed by weir and 900-1,800 fish as assessed by aerial survey. The majority of the fish counted through the weir this season were counted at night using video, even during a period of poor water visibility that lasted through the entire month of June. The weir was inundated by high flows for about a week during mid-June. However, it is not thought many fish escaped the weir undetected. The SEG was met by June 24, 2019, with a final count of 3,666 king salmon. The fishery was restored to special regulation on June 26. However, as the bulk of the run had already passed upstream of the weir, fishing success was low. The aerial survey was not conducted this year due to cloudy water conditions. Fishing at the Eklutna Tailrace was fair throughout the season.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2019, closed king salmon fishing in the Little Susitna River drainage. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed in the waters normally open to king salmon fishing in the Little Susitna River drainage. Sport fishing for other species was allowed seven days per week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. each day.

On June 26, 2019, the Little Susitna River reopened to king salmon fishing.

West Cook Inlet

Sport fisheries on the Chuitna, Theodore, Lewis, and the Beluga rivers drainages are closed by regulation. The SEGs on the Theodore and Lewis rivers were not attained in 2019. The SEG for the Chuitna River was met.

Sockeye Salmon
Susitna Tributaries

Weirs are operated to count sockeye salmon escapement into three lakes: Judd Lake (Talachulitna River) and Chelatna Lake (Lake Creek) on the Yentna River drainage and Larson Lake (Larson Creek) on the Susitna River. Sport fisheries on the Talachulitna River and Lake Creek are too far downstream of the weirs for timely inseason management. On Larson Creek, the sport fishery is in relatively close proximity to the weir, allowing for timely inseason management of the fishery. The SEGs for Chelatna and Judd lakes were attained. The Larson Creek SEG of 15,000-35,000 sockeye salmon was missed. Water level on Larson Creek was extremely low due to widespread drought conditions throughout Southcentral Alaska during July and August. Temperatures taken at the weir were relatively high. The result was low fish passage and an inability to effectively assess run strength using the weir. It became apparent that fish holding in the mouth area were susceptible to the sport fishery longer than a more typical water level year. Given this situation and a low cumulative count on August 10, 2019, the sport fishery was closed. The final count at Larson Creek was 9,522 sockeye salmon. Near the end of the season, staff surveyed the creek downstream of the weir to the creek’s confluence with the Talkeetna River and counted 3,200 dead fish in prespawning condition.

Management Actions

On August 10, 2019, sport fishing for all salmon species closed in the Larson Creek drainage and within a one-quarter mile radius of its confluence with the Talkeetna River.

Knik Arm

A weir is operated on Fish Creek to assess escapement and as a tool to manage the personal use dip net fishery. The SEG for the Fish Creek is 15,000-45,000 sockeye salmon. A personal use dip net fishery may open based upon an escapement projection in excess of 35,000 fish between July 15 and July 31. A final count of 76,264 fish was above the SEG range.

Management Actions

On July 26, 2019, the Fish Creek Personal Use Dip Net Fishery was opened for all salmon species, except king salmon, through July 31.

On August 9, 2019, the salmon limits, excepted king salmon, were increased to six fish per day and in possession in all waters of Fish Creek opened to salmon fishing. However, only two fish per day and possession may be coho salmon. In addition, sport fishing was allowed seven days per week from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. each day.

Coho Salmon
Susitna Tributaries

The final coho salmon count on the Deshka River was 10,445 fish (SEG 10,200-24,100). Extreme water temperatures as high as 28° C were experienced on the Deshka River this season due to widespread drought conditions throughout Southcentral Alaska during July and August. Water levels were record low in many area streams. The combination of high stream temperatures and low water were the likely cause of prespawning mortalities observed in Bachatana Slough and Montana Bill Creek in the West Cook Inlet area and other streams in the Matsu area, including Cottonwood, Wasilla, and Jim creeks. No mortalities were observed on the Deshka River and a reasonable explanation is that enough cold water refugia exists along the Deshka mainstem from muskeg seepages. However, as is common on the Deshka River under similar, but usually less severe stream conditions, stream conditions resulted in the stalling of coho salmon passage for about three weeks during historical peak of the sport fishery. The cumulative weir count held at around 3,000 fish during this period and eventually the sport fishery was closed due to the low count and uncertainty in numbers holding near the mouth. As waters gradually began to rise late in August, fish holding in the Susitna River near the Deshka River mouth began to move upstream. About 6,500 salmon passed the weir over about a 10-day period at the close of the season, the goal was achieved on September 5, 2019. Throughout the season, anglers reported consistent slow fishing success across the Susitna and Yentna rivers drainages, with some good days in which limits were taken.

Management Actions

On August 21, 2019, coho salmon fishing was closed in the Deshka River drainage including all waters within a one-half mile radius of its confluence with the Susitna River. In addition, the use of bait was prohibited.

Knik Arm

Weirs were operated on the Little Susitna River, Fish Creek, and Jim Creek. The SEG on the Little Susitna River is 10,100-17,700 fish. Widespread drought across Southcentral Alaska during July and August resulted low water and high stream temperatures throughout the Knik Arm area. Prespawning mortalities were observed by staff. Several hundred coho salmon in Wasilla Creek and less than 100 coho salmon in Jim Creek were observed dead prior to spawning, likely a direct result of warm water and low stream conditions. Record low water conditions in the Little Susitna River created a situation where coho salmon began holding in pools suitable for refugia throughout the lower 30 miles of river and upstream migration all but ceased beginning around August 10, 2019. The sport fishery was eventually closed on August 21, due to a low cumulative count and uncertainty in what remained of the run downstream of the weir and inlet. Migration had not resumed prior to the weir being pulled on August 3 as waters remained very low. The final count of 4,228 fish is considered to be incomplete. The Fish Creek SEG of 1,200-4,400 coho salmon was met August 12 and the final weir count was 3,025 fish. At Jim Creek, prespawning mortalities due to warm water conditions were observed early in the season. The SEG for Jim Creek of 450-1,400 coho salmon is assessed post season by a foot survey of McRoberts Creek, a small spawning tributary within the Jim Creek system. The survey conducted on September 26 counted 162 coho salmon, below the goal. A count of 632 fish on Upper Jim Creek, another spawning tributary, was average. A total of 3,736 coho salmon were counted through the weir. The low count on McRoberts Creek may, at least in part, be due to the late arrival of fish to Jim Creek that may not have migrated into the index area by the time of the survey. Fishing was reported to be average and good early in the season through about the first week of August. Fishing success became slow throughout the Knik Arm area during the rest of the season.

Management Actions

On August 14, 2019, the use of bait was prohibited on the Little Susitna River.

On August 21, 2019, coho salmon fish was closed on the Little Susitna River and the use of bait continued to be restricted.

West Cook Inlet

Coho salmon escapement is not monitored on West Cook Inlet area streams and ADF&G must rely on trends in harvest and angler effort taken from the Statewide Harvest Survey and reports from anglers and guides when assessing these stocks. The combination of high stream temperatures and low water were the likely cause of prespawning mortalities observed in Bachatana Slough and Montana Bill Creek in the West Cook Inlet area. Several thousand coho salmon were reported dead in these shallow streams, likely a direct result of low water and high stream temperatures. In general reports from anglers fishing West Cook Inlet streams was good throughout the season.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery.

See the printable PDF version, which includes a table of Region II Escapement Goals and Escapements (2010-2019).

PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND

Greater Susitna River/Knik Arm Area

Emergency orders released preseason targeted a 100% reduction in king salmon harvest in the Susitna and Little Susitna rivers drainages through closure of fisheries. Typically, 5-year old fish constitute about half a given year’s run and on the Deshka River for the second year in a row, sibling models suggested a potential weak run of 5-year old fish in 2019. There was also uncertainty in the forecast of 4-year old fish in 2019. The low forecast of 5-year old fish was due to low abundance of 4-year old fish on the Deshka River in 2018. Given the low abundance of 4-year old fish in 2018 was widespread throughout the Susitna drainage, it was assumed the low Deshka River forecast would be reflective of other areas of the Susitna River drainage during 2019. Also, most escapement goals were missed in 2017 while allowing restricted harvest to occur over much of the season. All escapement goals were missed in 2018 when catch-and-release was allowed. Given the potential for the 2019 Susitna River king salmon returns to be less than 2017 and 2018, total closure was warranted and the most conservative action implemented.

Westside Susitna Tributaries

The Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) for the Deshka River of 13,000-28,000 king salmon was not achieved. The final weir count was 9,711 king salmon. Water temperatures rose to 21 °C by June 20, 2019, around the midpoint of a typical run, stalling salmon migration. Waters progressively warmed as water levels dropped, resulting in negligible fish passage and a cumulative count of about 7,500 fish through a 20-day period. During this period, king salmon were likely holding in the cooler waters of the Susitna River downstream of the Deshka River mouth. Once stream conditions improved around July 11, about 2,000 more fish passed over a 7-day period. However, the number of fish holding was ultimately insufficient to achieve the escapement goal. Aerial escapement surveys were conducted postseason on four other westside streams. Escapement goals were achieved on the Talachulitna River, Lake Creek, and Peters Creek. The survey on Alexander Creek of 1,297 fish, although below goal, was the highest count since 2005. This stock is likely depressed by a combination of low marine survival and northern pike predation. Intensive pike suppression work conducted by ADF&G since 2010 may be improving freshwater survival of juveniles.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2019, closed king salmon fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainages for the season. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed in the waters normally open to king salmon fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainages. Sport fishing for other species was allowed seven days per week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. including the waters in Unit 2 that are normally closed on certain days during the king salmon season.

Eastside Susitna Tributaries

Management decisions effecting Eastside Susitna streams (Units 2, 3, 5, and 6) are based upon postseason aerial surveys over eight streams, which have established escapement goals. Surveys provide an annual index of abundance. Three of six goals were achieved in this area of the Susitna River drainage in 2019. Willow, Montana, and Prairie creeks failed to meet their escapement goals, while goals on Little Willow and Clear creeks and Chulitna River were met. Sheep and Goose creeks were not counted as cloudy water conditions due to the semi glacial nature of these streams prevailed.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2019, closed king salmon fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainages for the season. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed in the waters normally open to king salmon fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainages. Sport fishing for other species was allowed seven days per week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. including the waters in Unit 2 that are normally closed on certain days during the king salmon season.

Knik Arm

The Little Susitna River and the stocked terminal fishery at Eklutna Tailrace are the only Knik Arm streams open to the harvest of king salmon by regulation. The SEG for the Little Susitna River of 2,100-3,900 king salmon as assessed by weir and 900-1,800 fish as assessed by aerial survey. The majority of the fish counted through the weir this season were counted at night using video, even during a period of poor water visibility that lasted through the entire month of June. The weir was inundated by high flows for about a week during mid-June. However, it is not thought many fish escaped the weir undetected. The SEG was met by June 24, 2019, with a final count of 3,666 king salmon. The fishery was restored to special regulation on June 26. However, as the bulk of the run had already passed upstream of the weir, fishing success was low. The aerial survey was not conducted this year due to cloudy water conditions. Fishing at the Eklutna Tailrace was fair throughout the season.

Management Actions

A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2019, closed king salmon fishing in the Little Susitna River drainage. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed in the waters normally open to king salmon fishing in the Little Susitna River drainage. Sport fishing for other species was allowed seven days per week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. each day.

On June 26, 2019, the Little Susitna River reopened to king salmon fishing.

West Cook Inlet

Sport fisheries on the Chuitna, Theodore, Lewis, and the Beluga rivers drainages are closed by regulation. The SEGs on the Theodore and Lewis rivers were not attained in 2019. The SEG for the Chuitna River was met.

Sockeye Salmon
Susitna Tributaries

Weirs are operated to count sockeye salmon escapement into three lakes: Judd Lake (Talachulitna River) and Chelatna Lake (Lake Creek) on the Yentna River drainage and Larson Lake (Larson Creek) on the Susitna River. Sport fisheries on the Talachulitna River and Lake Creek are too far downstream of the weirs for timely inseason management. On Larson Creek, the sport fishery is in relatively close proximity to the weir, allowing for timely inseason management of the fishery. The SEGs for Chelatna and Judd lakes were attained. The Larson Creek SEG of 15,000-35,000 sockeye salmon was missed. Water level on Larson Creek was extremely low due to widespread drought conditions throughout Southcentral Alaska during July and August. Temperatures taken at the weir were relatively high. The result was low fish passage and an inability to effectively assess run strength using the weir. It became apparent that fish holding in the mouth area were susceptible to the sport fishery longer than a more typical water level year. Given this situation and a low cumulative count on August 10, 2019, the sport fishery was closed. The final count at Larson Creek was 9,522 sockeye salmon. Near the end of the season, staff surveyed the creek downstream of the weir to the creek’s confluence with the Talkeetna River and counted 3,200 dead fish in prespawning condition.

Management Actions

On August 10, 2019, sport fishing for all salmon species closed in the Larson Creek drainage and within a one-quarter mile radius of its confluence with the Talkeetna River.

Knik Arm

A weir is operated on Fish Creek to assess escapement and as a tool to manage the personal use dip net fishery. The SEG for the Fish Creek is 15,000-45,000 sockeye salmon. A personal use dip net fishery may open based upon an escapement projection in excess of 35,000 fish between July 15 and July 31. A final count of 76,264 fish was above the SEG range.

Management Actions

On July 26, 2019, the Fish Creek Personal Use Dip Net Fishery was opened for all salmon species, except king salmon, through July 31.

On August 9, 2019, the salmon limits, excepted king salmon, were increased to six fish per day and in possession in all waters of Fish Creek opened to salmon fishing. However, only two fish per day and possession may be coho salmon. In addition, sport fishing was allowed seven days per week from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. each day.

Coho Salmon
Susitna Tributaries

The final coho salmon count on the Deshka River was 10,445 fish (SEG 10,200-24,100). Extreme water temperatures as high as 28° C were experienced on the Deshka River this season due to widespread drought conditions throughout Southcentral Alaska during July and August. Water levels were record low in many area streams. The combination of high stream temperatures and low water were the likely cause of prespawning mortalities observed in Bachatana Slough and Montana Bill Creek in the West Cook Inlet area and other streams in the Matsu area, including Cottonwood, Wasilla, and Jim creeks. No mortalities were observed on the Deshka River and a reasonable explanation is that enough cold water refugia exists along the Deshka mainstem from muskeg seepages. However, as is common on the Deshka River under similar, but usually less severe stream conditions, stream conditions resulted in the stalling of coho salmon passage for about three weeks during historical peak of the sport fishery. The cumulative weir count held at around 3,000 fish during this period and eventually the sport fishery was closed due to the low count and uncertainty in numbers holding near the mouth. As waters gradually began to rise late in August, fish holding in the Susitna River near the Deshka River mouth began to move upstream. About 6,500 salmon passed the weir over about a 10-day period at the close of the season, the goal was achieved on September 5, 2019. Throughout the season, anglers reported consistent slow fishing success across the Susitna and Yentna rivers drainages, with some good days in which limits were taken.

Management Actions

On August 21, 2019, coho salmon fishing was closed in the Deshka River drainage including all waters within a one-half mile radius of its confluence with the Susitna River. In addition, the use of bait was prohibited.

Knik Arm

Weirs were operated on the Little Susitna River, Fish Creek, and Jim Creek. The SEG on the Little Susitna River is 10,100-17,700 fish. Widespread drought across Southcentral Alaska during July and August resulted low water and high stream temperatures throughout the Knik Arm area. Prespawning mortalities were observed by staff. Several hundred coho salmon in Wasilla Creek and less than 100 coho salmon in Jim Creek were observed dead prior to spawning, likely a direct result of warm water and low stream conditions. Record low water conditions in the Little Susitna River created a situation where coho salmon began holding in pools suitable for refugia throughout the lower 30 miles of river and upstream migration all but ceased beginning around August 10, 2019. The sport fishery was eventually closed on August 21, due to a low cumulative count and uncertainty in what remained of the run downstream of the weir and inlet. Migration had not resumed prior to the weir being pulled on August 3 as waters remained very low. The final count of 4,228 fish is considered to be incomplete. The Fish Creek SEG of 1,200-4,400 coho salmon was met August 12 and the final weir count was 3,025 fish. At Jim Creek, prespawning mortalities due to warm water conditions were observed early in the season. The SEG for Jim Creek of 450-1,400 coho salmon is assessed post season by a foot survey of McRoberts Creek, a small spawning tributary within the Jim Creek system. The survey conducted on September 26 counted 162 coho salmon, below the goal. A count of 632 fish on Upper Jim Creek, another spawning tributary, was average. A total of 3,736 coho salmon were counted through the weir. The low count on McRoberts Creek may, at least in part, be due to the late arrival of fish to Jim Creek that may not have migrated into the index area by the time of the survey. Fishing was reported to be average and good early in the season through about the first week of August. Fishing success became slow throughout the Knik Arm area during the rest of the season.

Management Actions

On August 14, 2019, the use of bait was prohibited on the Little Susitna River.

On August 21, 2019, coho salmon fish was closed on the Little Susitna River and the use of bait continued to be restricted.

West Cook Inlet

Coho salmon escapement is not monitored on West Cook Inlet area streams and ADF&G must rely on trends in harvest and angler effort taken from the Statewide Harvest Survey and reports from anglers and guides when assessing these stocks. The combination of high stream temperatures and low water were the likely cause of prespawning mortalities observed in Bachatana Slough and Montana Bill Creek in the West Cook Inlet area. Several thousand coho salmon were reported dead in these shallow streams, likely a direct result of low water and high stream temperatures. In general reports from anglers fishing West Cook Inlet streams was good throughout the season.

Management Actions

No management actions were implemented during the 2019 sport fishery.

See the printable PDF version, which includes a table of Region II Escapement Goals and Escapements (2010-2019).

 

 

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