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Sockeye Limits Increased On Upper Copper River

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

Effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 20, the sport fish daily bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon, in the upper Copper River drainage, is increased to 6 fish for the remainder of the season.

The sustainable escapement goal for sockeye salmon in the Copper River drainage is 360,000–750,000 fish.  As of July 14, the Miles Lake sonar cumulative count was 862,165 salmon.  Based on current sonar counts and projected counts for the remainder of the run, the 2019 sockeye salmon escapement is expected to exceed the upper bound of the sustainable escapement goal.  As provided by 5 AAC 75.003 (2)(A), the department has emergency order authority to increase sport fish bag and possession limits when the total escapement is projected to exceed the escapement goal and the total harvest under the increased bag and possession limit will not reduce the escapement below the escapement goal.  Therefore, an increase in the sockeye salmon bag and possession limit in the upper Copper River drainage is warranted to provide additional harvest opportunity.

 

Alaska Man Charged With Illegally Shooting Polar Bear

Polar bears are longtime cohabitants in the northern region of Alaska, so locals have to share these isolated areas with the majestic but fierce predators. Unfortunately, last week a man was charged with killing a bear and  abandoning the carcass in a small coastal village.

Here’s the release from the Alaska Department of Justice:

Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that Christopher L. Gordon, 35, of Kaktovik, Alaska, has been federally charged for knowingly taking a polar bear in a manner unlawful under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, by shooting and killing the polar bear and leaving the harvestable remains to waste.  Gordon has been charged in Fairbanks with one count of wasteful taking of a marine mammal.

According to the charging document, on Dec. 20, 2018, near the village of Kaktovik, Gordon allegedly left butchered whale meat outside in the front yard of his residence for a substantial period of time, which attracted a polar bear and other animals to his front yard.  Gordon then allegedly shot and killed the polar bear because it was trying to eat the improperly stored whale meat; the shooting was not done in self-defense.   

Between Dec. 20, 2018, and May 22, 2019, Gordon allegedly left the polar bear carcass in his front yard without salvaging any portion of the polar bear and allowing it to become covered with snow.  This caused a snow removal vehicle to move the polar bear carcass and rip off one of its legs.  On May 22, 2019, Gordon caused the polar bear carcass to be discarded and burned in the Kaktovik dump without using any of its parts for subsistence purposes. 

If convicted, Gordon faces up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the investigation leading to the charges in this case.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan D. Tansey.

The charges in the information are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

KTOO Public Media also had a report:

Some residents of Kaktovik have been voicing concerns about their ability to protect themselves from the encroaching polar bears.

“The bear’s underneath my house in the morning when I go to work,” Mike Gallagher, a city council member, said at a public meeting last month. “Would it be your kid? Would it be my kid? It could be anybody down the street. These bears are getting used to people. They’re domesticated.”

 

Study: Warm Water In Kuskokwim River Could Have Caused Salmon Heart Attacks

In a fascinating report from KYUK public media, Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists believe warm water in the Kuskokwim River could have been a contributing factor for salmon suffering heart attacks. Here’s a snippet from the story:

“Essentially, what could happen is salmon metabolism speeds up to the point that they’re having heart attacks and going belly up and floating downriver,” explained Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Ben Gray.

Gray and his crew boated from Bethel to Akiak to check it out. Along the way, they counted about 20 dead salmon. Warm water is also the suspected cause of the higher than normal amounts of parasites infesting salmon harvested along the river. That warm water is coming from the ocean. Kuskokwim Bay has clocked about 10 to 12 degrees above average throughout the summer, and each tide pulls that warm water into the lower river.

Alaska is cooking through an unseasonably warm summer. 

Sockeye Limits Raised On The Alagnak River (Updated)

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

(Dillingham) – In an effort to harvest surplus sockeye salmon returning to the Alagnak River, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is increasing the bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon to ten fish per day and ten fish in possession in all waters of the Alagnak River drainage effective 12:01 p.m. (noon) Tuesday, July 16 through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, 2019. However, the bag and possession limit for other salmon, except king, coho, and sockeye salmon, remains at five fish per day and five in possession. These limits are in combination with the more liberal limits for sockeye salmon.

“An estimated 125,670 sockeye salmon passed the Alagnak River tower over the weekend bringing the season total to approximately 343,000 sockeye salmon through July 14,” stated Assistant Area Management Biologist Lee Borden. “This number exceeds the minimum escapement goal of 210,000 fish. It is a great opportunity for anglers to harvest surplus sockeye salmon in the Alagnak River drainage.”

For additional information, please contact Dillingham Assistant Area Management Biologist Lee Borden at (907) 842-2427 or the Dillingham Sport Fish regulation recorder at (907) 842-7347.

Update:

Tanana River Drainage King Salmon Sport Fishery Restricted To Catch-And-Release

Effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 17, 2019 the king salmon sport fishery in all flowing waters of the Tanana River drainage will be restricted to catch-and-release.  King salmon caught may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. In addition, the use of bait is prohibited in all tributaries of the Tanana River drainage (including the Chena, Salcha, Chatanika, Nenana, and Goodpaster rivers).

The Tanana River drainage king salmon sport fisheries are managed under the provisions set forth in 5 AAC 74.060 Chena and Salcha River King Salmon Sport Harvest Management Plan using inseason estimated run abundance and escapement information from the Tanana River and its major king salmon spawning tributaries, the Chena and Salcha Rivers. The plan states that the fisheries will be managed to achieve escapements in the Chena and Salcha rivers that fall within the BEG ranges. The king salmon BEG range for the Chena River is 2,800 – 5,700 fish, and the BEG range for the Salcha River is 3,300 – 6,500.

Through Sunday, July 14, the cumulative passage of king salmon was 552 fish in the Chena River and 666 fish in the Salcha River. Based on historical run timing, the projected king salmon escapements in the Chena and Salcha rivers will fall below their respective biological escapement goal (BEG) lower bounds. Projected escapements based on current run strength indicate that the Tanana River drainage cannot support a sport harvest at this time. Restricting the king salmon sport fishery to catch-and-release in the Tanana River drainage is warranted to conserve Tanana River king salmon stocks.

The department will continue to evaluate escapements on the Chena and Salcha rivers. If escapements are projected to be met, restrictions to the king salmon sports fisheries will be relaxed.

For additional information contact Heather Scannell, Tanana River Area Management Biologist, 907-459-7357.

Action Heating Up During Valdez Fishing Derbies

North Pole’s Louis Silva’s 189-pounder took weekly Valdez Halibut Derby honors. (VALDEZ FISH DERBIES)

The following is courtesy of Valdez Fish Derbies:

KIDS PINK SALMON DERBY AND SILVER SALMON DERBY START SATURDAY

VALDEZ, Alaska – Anglers are already catching pink salmon in Port Valdez and young anglers will have a chance to catch them and win prizes this Saturday, July 20th in the Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby. This free one-day kids derby is open to ages 5 to 16 and features 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes in four different age divisions. The Valdez Kids Pink Salmon Derby started in 2008 and a 10.12 pound pink salmon caught by Alex Plowman in 2017 is the largest caught on record. Last year, Liliana Garcia of Fairbanks had the distinction of winning the largest fish in the 2018 Kids Pink Derby with the 7.80 pounder she caught to win the 8 to 10 year-old division. A free family barbeque and awards will follow the day of fishing. The first 300 kids to stop by the weigh-in will get a free t-shirt. Valdez Fish Derbies dates, prizes, rules, winners, pictures and more can be found at www.valdezfishderbies.com.

The Valdez Silver Salmon Derby also starts this Saturday and anglers are reporting catches of silvers at Goose Island and beyond. Aksel Hutchinson of Valdez reeled in the largest fish in the Valdez Silver Salmon Derby last year. Seven-year-old Hutchison won $10,000 with the 17.28 pound silver he caught August 11th.

Christine Ives of Fairbanks is still leading the Valdez Halibut Derby with the 285.6 pound fish she caught June 6th. Christopher Barnes of Moorhead Minnesota is currently holding onto 2nd place in the overall standings with a 225.6 pound halibut he caught June 24th and Matt Janezic of Duluth, Minnesota is currently in 3rd place overall with a 203.4 pound halibut he caught June 28th.

Halibut fishing has been good for most anglers getting out further, but Alaska Department of Fish and Game suggests you don’t have to travel far. They suggest trying large bait on muddy bottom off a rocky slope in 150 to 300 feet of water. Lingcod season opened July 1st and many trophy size fish have been brought in to Port Valdez.

For those wanting to target rockfish, shrimp flies are a good option. With a little added bait on your hook and dropping down on a rocky pinnacle you shouldn’t have trouble getting into some fish. Black rockfish have been found in large schools along shorelines and rocky pinnacles on the Eastern side of Prince William Sound. ADF&G says fishing crippled herring jigs or shrimp flies in 50 to 100 feet of water will really do the trick for these hard-hitting fish.

Dan Geenen of Sand Point, Michigan (116 pounds, 2 ounces).

Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders

1st        Christine Ives              Fairbanks, AK            285.6 lbs.         June 6              Nunatak
2nd       Christopher Barnes     Moorhead, MN           225.6 lbs.         June 24            Sea Quester
3rd        Matt Janezic                Duluth, MN                 203.4 lbs.         June 28            Bold Eagle

Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners – July 7th through July 13th

1st        Louis Silva                  North Pole, AK           189.0 lbs.         July 8th           Nunatak

2nd       Dan Geenen                 Sand Point, ID           116.2 lbs.        July 11th          Hooked Up

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

One Fish Limit For Yukon River King Salmon

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

Yukon River King Salmon Sport Fishery Open to One Fish Limit

Effective July 11, 2019, the Yukon River drainage (excluding the Tanana River) king salmon sport fishery will reopen with a bag and possession limit of one fish 20 inches or greater in length, and an annual limit of one fish 20 inches or greater in length.

The Yukon River King Salmon Management Plan directs the department to manage for the sustained yield of Yukon River king salmon. This plan directs the sport fishery in the Yukon River drainage to be managed in coordination with the commercial and subsistence fisheries. Sport fishing restrictions necessary for conservation purposes correspond to the level of king salmon abundance. On May 11, 2019 the department closed the king salmon sport fishery in response to a below average run forecast and subsequent restrictions to subsistence fisheries. However, a greater than anticipated number of king salmon have passed the Pilot Station Sonar, which has resulted in a return to the full regulatory subsistence fishing schedule and the opportunity for king salmon caught incidentally in the chum salmon commercial fishery to be sold. With the better than anticipated king salmon run, the department is justified in lifting the preseason sport fishing closure and providing some minimal king salmon harvest opportunity.

Baked Alaska: Heat Wave In The Last Frontier

So what kind if impact will these soaring temperatures have on a state not used to such intense summer conditions? The Hill has more on the environmental concerns:

In an added hardship, disappearing ice cuts off access to traditional hunting and fishing grounds, and the warming ocean is changing where fish and marine mammals can be found. This has real nutritional consequences in a land where many residents still rely on subsistence hunting and fishing. Commercial crab, cod and pollock fleets also wrestle with the changes.

Warming in the Arctic may also be impacting global weather, as Scientific American described in 2018. Specifically, Arctic warming is changing the global temperature gradient, possibly contributing to greater meanders in the jet stream. This summer, such meanders have played a role in anotherround of record-setting heat in Europe and a recent Russian hot spell that sent Arctic temperatures rocketing to 84 degrees. Thoman says these possible global implications of Arctic warming are now an area of “active research.”

Keep cool, Alaskans.

Naknek River’s Sockeye Limits Increasing

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

Naknek River Sockeye Salmon Limits Increased

(Dillingham) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is increasing the bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon to ten fish per day and ten fish in possession in all waters of the Naknek River drainage effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 10, through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, 2019. The bag and possession limit for other salmon, except king and sockeye salmon, remains at five fish. These limits are in combination with the more liberal limits for sockeye salmon.

Through July 7, 2019, approximately 1.01 million sockeye salmon have been counted at the Naknek River tower. The run is within the escapement goal of 800,000 – 2,000,000 and increasing projections likely to exceed the escapement goal under normal fishing have been dampened by increased opportunity for the commercial fleet. Therefore, it is justified to liberate sport fishery opportunity for sockeye salmon in the Naknek River.

“This year’s sockeye run is really strong,” stated Assistant Area Management Biologist Lee Borden. “With a solid sockeye return on the Naknek, we are increasing opportunity to harvest additional fish in the sport fishery.”

Nushagak-Mulchatna River Drainage King Salmon Restricted to Catch-and-Release and No Bait

(Dillingham) – In favor of protecting returning king salmon and ensuring fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing restriction. Retention of king salmon of any size and the use of bait is prohibited in all waters of the Nushagak-Mulchatna River drainage effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 10 through the remainder of the king salmon season, which closes at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, 2019. King salmon may not be retained or possessed (catch-and-release only). King salmon caught may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Through July 7, 2019, an estimated 39,829 king salmon have passed the Portage Creek sonar. The sustainable escapement goal (SEG) for Nushagak River king salmon is 55,000 – 120,000 fish. Although the current projection of spawning escapement is below desired levels, unusually warm weather and water temperatures have likely delayed the upstream migration of king salmon. Therefore, a cautious approach is warranted.

“This year’s run has fallen well behind desired levels,” stated Area Management Biologist Jason Dye. “In the interest of putting as many king salmon on the spawning grounds as possible, we are limiting the Nushagak-Mulchatna River drainage king salmon fishery to catch-and-release.”

ADF&G will continue to monitor the king salmon escapement and may reopen the sport fishery as specified in the management plan.

 

Valdez Halibut Derby Anglers Also Catching Plenty Of Lingcod, Rockfish

Josh Hughes (182.2 pounds) was the weekly Valdez Halibut Derby winner.

The following is courtesy of Valdez Fish Derbies:

VALDEZ, Alaska – Big hauls of halibut, lingcod, and rockfish are being laid out on the docks at the Valdez Harbor. Ling Cod season opened July 1st and some large fish have been brought to Port Valdez. Incredible weather this past week allowed anglers to get to the fishing grounds past Hinchinbrook Island and the fish were biting. Not just halibut, cod and rockfish, but pink salmon as well. According to fish fileter Pat Olson, anglers have caught a few pink salmon fishing from boats near Allison Point. The majority of the pinks are out past the narrows, and anglers venturing out for pink salmon are coming back to Port with their limit already.

Christine Ives is still leading the Valdez Halibut Derby with the 285.6 pound halibut she caught June 6th aboard the Nunatak. Christopher Barnes is currently in 2nd place overall with the 225.6 pounder he caught June 24th aboard the SeaQuester and Matt Janezic is holding onto 3rd place overall with the 203.4 pounder he caught June 29th aboard the Bold Eagle.

While sport anglers are heading to the halibut grounds, the commercial charter fleet was just past the narrows seining for pink salmon. According to Valdez Fisheries Development Association, VFDA achieved 73 percent of its cost recovery goal by June 2nd. A total harvest of 742,943 pounds was recorded. The percentage of female fish was 31% with an average weight of 3.2 pounds. The anticipated return of pink salmon to Valdez this year is in the neighborhood of 20 million.

The Kids Pink Salmon Derby is July 20th and the biggest pink salmon brought in during the 10 year history of the event is a 10.12 pounder caught by Alex Plowman in 2017. Six of the top 10 fish caught during 2017 Kids Pink Salmon Derby, made the Top 10 list, including all of the top five spots.  CLICK HERE for more information about the Kids Pink Salmon Derby. It’s a free event for kids 5 to 16 years of age and includes prizes and a free barbeque. Pink salmon fishing is generally very productive at Allison Point and along the shorelines. Pixies, spinners and Vibrax are all good options.

The Silver Salmon Derby will start July 20th and the Women’s Derby is Saturday, August 10th with an opening ceremony on Friday, August 10th. Valdez Fish Derbies dates, prizes, rules, winners, pictures and more can be found at www.valdezfishderbies.com.

Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders

1st        Christine Ives              Fairbanks, AK            285.6 lbs.         June 6              Nunatak
2nd       Christopher Barnes     Moorhead, MN           225.6 lbs.         June 24            Sea Quester
3rd        Matt Janezic                Duluth, MN                 203.4 lbs.         June 28            Bold Eagle

Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners – June 30th through July 6th

1st        Josh Hughes                Big Lake, AK              182.2 lbs.         July 3              The Reflection

2nd       Loren Kendall             Valdez, AK                 149.2 lbs.         July 3              Victorious

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

Sockeye Salmon Limits Increasing On Two Alaska River Drainages

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

Wood River Drainage Sockeye Salmon Limits Increased

(Dillingham) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is increasing the limits of sockeye salmon to ten fish per day and ten fish in possession in all waters of the Wood River drainage effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 5 through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, 2019. The bag and possession limit for other salmon, except king and sockeye salmon, remains at five fish. These limits are in combination with the more liberal limits for sockeye salmon.

The escapement of sockeye salmon in the Wood River is projected to exceed the escapement goal of 700,000 – 1.8 million fish. Through July 2, approximately 937,644 sockeye salmon have been counted at the Wood River tower. Therefore, it is warranted to increase the bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon in the Wood River sport fishery.

“This year’s sockeye run is ahead on the projection curve,” stated Assistant Area Management Biologist Lee Borden. “With the upper end of the escapement goal of 1.8 million projected to be exceeded, we are providing anglers an opportunity to harvest additional fish from the Wood River drainage.”

Nushagak-Mulchatna Drainage Sockeye Salmon Limits Increased

(Dillingham) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is increasing the limits of sockeye salmon to ten fish per day and ten fish in possession in all waters of the Nushagak-Mulchatna River drainage, excluding the Wood River drainage, effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 5 through 11:59 p.m., December 31, 2019. The bag and possession limit for other salmon, except king and sockeye salmon, remains at five fish. These limits are in combination with the more liberal limits for sockeye salmon.

The escapement of sockeye salmon in the Nushagak River is projected to exceed the escapement goal of 370,000 – 900,000 fish. Through July 2, 2019, approximately 405,083 sockeye salmon have been counted at the Portage Creek sonar. Therefore, it is warranted to increase the bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon in the Nushagak-Mulchatna River sport fishery.

“This year’s sockeye salmon run is ahead on the projection curve,” stated Assistant Area Management Biologist Lee Borden. “With the upper end of the escapement goal of 900,000 projected to be exceeded, we are providing anglers an opportunity to harvest additional fish in the sport fishery.”