Copper River Shutting Down For King Fishing

Copper River King Salmon Sport Fishery Closed

(Glennallen) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is closing the sport fisheries for king salmon in the Upper Copper River drainage (including the Gulkana, Klutina and Tonsina Rivers).

The Upper Copper River king salmon sport fisheries upstream of Haley Creek will be closed effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 29. This closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing. All king salmon incidentally caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. In addition, the use of bait is still prohibited and anglers may only use unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures in all flowing waters of the Upper Copper River drainage through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, August 10.

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 is unlikely to achieve the lower bound of the escapement goal based on inseason indicators and projected harvest. Inseason abundance estimates from the Native Village of Eyak mark-recapture project indicate that the final inriver king salmon abundance estimate will be near the lower bound of the sustainable escapement goal, prior to accounting for inriver harvest.

As of June 23, cumulative king salmon passage at the Gulkana River counting tower is 55% below the historical average and the Miles Lake sonar counts proportion of king salmon is similar to that observed in 2021 when the lower bound of the king salmon sustainable escapement goal was not achieved. Anecdotal catch reports from the personal use, subsistence, and sport fisheries also indicate king salmon abundance is less than expected. Due to the concerns that the king salmon escapement goal may not be met, prohibiting retention of king salmon in the Glennallen Subdistrict subsistence salmon fishery and closing the Upper Copper River king salmon sport fisheries are warranted. The Chitina Subdistrict personal use fishery was closed to retention of king salmon in a previous emergency order effective June 24, 2024.