Catch-And-Release Only King Fishing On Upper Copper River

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

Upper Copper River King Salmon Sport Fishery Restricted To Catch-And-Release

(Glennallen) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is restricting sport fisheries in the Upper Copper River drainage for king salmon conservation.

Effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, June 24, all waters of the Upper Copper River, upstream of Haley Creek, will be restricted to catch-and-release fishing for king salmon. King salmon may not be retained or possessed, may not be removed from the water, and must be released immediately. Additionally, in all flowing waters of the Upper Copper River drainage, the use of bait is prohibited and only unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures may be used.

The Copper River King Salmon Fishery Management Plan (5 AAC 24.361) directs the department to manage the Copper River fisheries to achieve a sustainable escapement goal of 21,000–31,000 king salmon. The 2024 king salmon run to the Copper River appears weaker than the preseason forecast of 47,000 king salmon. Catch rates of king salmon in the Native Village of Eyak research fish wheels through June 17 are the lowest on record since 2003 and recapture rates indicate a potential inriver return near the lower bound of the king salmon escapement goal. Additionally, review of sonar king salmon apportionment trends over the last 5 years and anecdotal catch reports from the personal use, subsistence, and sport fisheries also indicate king salmon abundance may be less than expected. Due to the concerns that the king salmon escapement goal may not be met, restricting the Upper Copper River king salmon sport fishery is warranted.

King salmon conservation measures are also being taken in the Chitina Subdistrict personal use dip net salmon fishery. The department will continue to evaluate inseason run strength and take appropriate management actions to meet the Copper River king salmon sustainable escapement goal.