The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:
(Anchorage) – In favor of protecting returning king salmon and increasing fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing regulation closure on Ship Creek effective 12:01 a.m.Tuesday, July 3 through 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 14, 2018. Ship Creek is closed to all sport fishing from its mouth upstream to a cable 100 feet downstream of the Chugach Power Dam.
“The 2018 Ship Creek king salmon return is looking like historical returns which were weak and late. During these weak and late returning years we need to make sure that we are getting enough fish back to the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery to provide eggs for future king salmon runs,” stated Area Management Biologist Jay Baumer. “Ship Creek king salmon are primarily a hatchery run; however, king salmon runs throughout Cook Inlet are consistently experiencing a low productivity year and difficult measures need to be taken so that Ship Creek doesn’t experience another weak return in a couple years from now.”
The William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery (hatchery) collects broodstock from king salmon returning to the Ship Creek drainage for the primary purpose of providing king salmon sport fishing opportunities in the Anchorage area. As of June 28, 2018, only four king salmon have entered the raceway at the hatchery and only 45 king salmon were observed during a stream survey from the hatchery downstream to the Chugach Power Plant Dam. In order to sustain the Ship Creek sport fishery, ADF&G staff needs to ensure that enough king salmon make it to the hatchery to meet broodstock needs; therefore, the current numbers justify closing the king salmon fishery for the remainder of the season.
“The high and turbid waters Ship Creek has been experiencing have made it a difficult year not only for anglers but for ADF&G staff. The water conditions moved gravel around creating new islands and new channels. Not only has it clogged up the hatchery raceways with silt but it has delayed our foot surveys,” stated Area Management Biologist Jay Baumer. “ADF&G staff has been watching this fishery closely and were waiting for suitable water levels, so we could count the number of the kings that have returned so far. Until recently, the high and turbid water conditions made it impossible for ADF&G staff to visually count fish. Although water conditions have cleared up enough for ADF&G staff to conduct a stream survey, the number of king salmon in the creek are not at the level needed to provide for broodstock needs and allow a sport fishery.”
ADF&G staff will continue to monitor the Ship Creek king salmon run and if run strength improves to a level that can support harvest, restrictions to the sport fishery may be rescinded. Ship Creek will reopen on July 14, 2018, for coho salmon season.