Yakutat Freshwaters Closing For King Salmon Fishing

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

Situk River photo by Tony Ensalaco

Yakutat Area Fresh Waters Closed to Sport Fishing for King Salmon

(Yakutat) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish announced today that beginning at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, May 1, sport fishing for king salmon in the fresh waters of the Yakutat management area will be closed. King salmon may not be targeted, retained, or possessed; king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

The Yakutat management area encompasses all fresh waters between Cape Suckling to Cape Fairweather, and includes such rivers as the Kiklukh, Tsiu, Situk, Akwe, Italio, and East Alsek. The Situk River drainage is managed for a biological escapement goal (BEG) of 450–1,050 large king salmon. In 2008, 2010 through 2012, and again in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2023 the Situk River king salmon stock failed to achieve the BEG. In 2023, the Situk River saw its worst escapement of king salmon in the 36 years the weir has been operating at its current location. In 2013, 2014, 2017, and 2019–2022 the goal was achieved after restrictive management measures were implemented in the sport, commercial, and subsistence fisheries.

Given recent small escapements and harvest trends, sustainable escapement levels are at risk of not being achieved in the Situk River without preseason king salmon fishery restrictions. Given the lowest escapement on record was observed in the Situk River in 2023 and the regionwide trend of poor king salmon productivity, a conservative management approach warrants closing the fresh waters of the Yakutat management area to sport fishing for king salmon to start the season. If escapement levels in the Situk River reach the lower end of the escapement goal range then the closure of sport fisheries may be rescinded.

For further information anglers should the call the Yakutat Sport Fish Office at (907) 784-3222.