Little Susitna River Closed For Retention Of King Salmon

Little Susitna River photo by Wikimedia user “Jim”

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

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is prohibiting the retention of king salmon on the Little Susitna River drainage from its mouth upstream to the Parks Highway effective 6:00 a.m. Friday, June 15 through 11:00 p.m. Friday, July 13, 2018. This sport fishery is restricted to catch-and-release only for king salmon. Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used. King salmon may not be retained or possessed.  King salmon caught must be released immediately.  A person may not remove a king salmon from the water before releasing the fish.

As of June 12, 2018, only 70 king salmon have passed the Little Susitna weir and the projected escapement is 532. The escapement goal for the Little Susitna River is 2,100–4,300 king salmon based on counts taken at a weir located at approximately River Mile 32.5 and four miles upstream of the Little Susitna Public Use Facility (LSPUF). An exit survey conducted by the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation at the LSPUF indicates a below average harvest. Recent high water may be contributing to below average fishing success and the possibility of lost fish over submerged weir panels. However, video monitoring allows the ability to count fish 24 hours per day; low daily video counts indicate low abundance of king salmon in the river.

“Reports from anglers and ADF&G staff at the weir suggest a low abundance of age five fish, which typically make up about half of a run on any given year,” stated Area Management Biologist Sam Ivey. “A poor return of this age class is being experienced on the Susitna River drainage and in other areas of the state increasing the likelihood the goal may not be achieved without the sport fishery being further restricted.  At this time, it is prudent to further restrict harvest until the run can be more fully assessed and close the Little Susitna River to retention of king salmon.”

ADF&G will continue to monitor the Little Susitna River king salmon run as it develops. If run strength improves to a level that can support harvest, restrictions to the sport fishery may be rescinded. However, total closure of the sport fishery is possible if the run does not improve.