Buskin River Coho Fishery Shutting Down

Coho salmon photo by ADFG

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

Buskin River Closed to Coho Salmon Fishing

(Kodiak) – In an effort to achieve escapement goals, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is closing the Buskin River drainage to sport fishing for coho salmon effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, September 18 through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, 2019. Sport fishing for coho salmon on the Buskin River is closed and any coho salmon caught incidentally while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

“The Buskin River coho salmon stock has seen several years of lower returns than expected,” stated Area Management Biologist Tyler Polum. “As long as we’re in this period of low productivity, we need to manage conservatively to get coho salmon upriver to spawn.”

As of September 15, 2019, only 181 coho salmon have passed the Buskin River weir. The escapement goal for coho salmon into the Buskin River is 4,700 to 9,600 fish. Based on historical run timing, more than 50% of the run has occurred and ADF&G does not expect the final weir count to meet the escapement goal for this stock. Therefore, it is warranted to close the coho salmon sport fishery in an attempt to meet escapement objectives.

No Bait Allowed on Copper River Highway Streams

(Anchorage) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is prohibiting the use of bait on the Copper River Highway streams effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, September 18 through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, 2019. The Copper River Highway streams include all freshwaters drainages crossed by the Copper River Highway from and including Eyak River to the Million Dollar Bridge, including Clear Creek at mile 42 downstream of the Carbon Mountain Road Bridge.

“With the low numbers of coho salmon seen in the aerial survey we need to reduce harvest to ensure escapement for future coho returns,” stated Jay Baumer Sport Fish Area Management Biologist.

On September 11, 2019, the Copper River Delta (CRD) drainage aerial survey count for coho salmon was estimated at 8,565 coho salmon versus an anticipated range of 18,286 – 38,285. In addition, during the CRD aerial survey mortalities were observed in other reaches of Ibeck Creek likely related to low water conditions. The Copper River Delta area had been experiencing drought conditions with minimal to no rain. It has been determined that low water conditions over the last few weeks likely impeded fish migration. To help increase escapement in the CRD eliminating bait from the sport fishery is warranted.