Last weekend was the first of four consecutive weekends, during which the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is hosting a youth-only grayling fishery on the lower Chena River.
Over the next three weekends, any angler 15 years old or younger may retain one Arctic grayling per day of any size from the Chena River downstream from a regulatory marker 300 feet downstream of the Chena River Flood Control Project.
The department reminds the public that, on weekdays, the fishery goes back to catch-and-release for all fishermen. The youth fishery will be open June 27-28, July 4-5 and July 11-12.
The department reminds the public to take bug spray and directs anyone new to fishing to a video titled “How to Fish for Arctic Grayling,” which can be found online here: bit.ly/2YyOlhl.
Chitina Dip Net fishery open, but not for kings
Following poor run numbers, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed the Chitina Subdistrict personal use dip net fishery for the retention of king salmon on June 22. Retaining kings will not be allowed for the remainder of the season and any king salmon incidentally taken must be released immediately and returned to the water unharmed.
According to the department, fishery managers seek an escapement goal of 24,000 or more king salmon. This year’s run appears to be substantially weaker than the preseason forecast of 60,000 king salmon, with a cumulative commercial harvest of only 5,750 king salmon as of June 16. Based on data collected using the Native Village of Eyak research fish wheels through June 16, the department estimates that the catch is 32% below average for this point in the season. Meanwhile, just 54 king salmon had passed the Gulkana River king salmon counting tower as of June 16, which is 71% below the average for this date.
“These in season run strength indicators through June 16, and the generally poor stock performance trend over the last 11 years, indicate the need to take restrictive action and therefore justify prohibiting the retention of king salmon in the Chitina Subdistrict personal use dip net fishery to ensure achievement of the sustainable escapement goal,” states a news release from the department.
But nevermind the king salmon, there are still sockeye to be caught!
The Chitina Subdistrict personal use dip net fishery is currently open and is scheduled to open again Monday. The fishery opened for a 114-hour period at 6 a.m. Wednesday, and will remain open through 11:59 p.m. Sunday. The fishery will then open again for a 168-hour period from 12:01 a.m. Monday through 11:59 p.m. July 5.
According to fish counts at the Miles Lake sonar, during June 15–21 the department counted over 81,000 fish passby, which far exceeded the preseason projection for this period of 63,500. As such, the department is opening the fishery for an additional 20 hours this coming week.
As a reminder, the annual limit for the fishery is 25 salmon for the head of household and 10 salmon for each dependent of the permit holder. Fishermen must keep their Chitina Personal Use fishery permit and a valid resident sport fishing license on their person while fishing. Harvests must be recorded immediately.
In addition, all fishermen are reminded that, this year for the first time, participation and harvest reporting must be completed online through the ADF&G Harvest Reporting website, which can be found here: bit.ly/2VApZBZ. Returning permits by mail or hand-delivery is no longer permitted and the penalty for failure to report by the October 15 deadline will be the loss of future personal use fishing privileges, and a denial of a permit for the fishery the next calendar year.
Both dip net permits and fishing licenses can be obtained online here: bit.ly/38d4Ti9. For more information on the Chitina Subdistrict personal use fishery, contact the ADF&G office in Glennallen at 907-822-3309.
Northern Pike fishery open
The Tolovana Drainage, including the Minto Flats area, opened on June 1 for Northern Pike fishing. The fishery will remain open through October 14.
According to regulations, the bag limit is five pike per day, only one of which may be greater than 30 inches.
When catch-and-release fishing, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game asks the public to minimize fish handling by using a single hook and removing or disabling barbs.
Fishing licenses are available online here: bit.ly/38d4Ti9.
Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.