On Tuesday, the Alaska board of fish made changes to the early run king management plan. Though its not entirely clear how the regulations will actually read, a few things are clear. Fishing in the middle river for king salmon will be heavily restricted (prohibited) which comes as no loss to us as we essentially never fish the middle river for king salmon. This leaves the lower 19 miles open to what is known as a “pass through fishery.” The slot limit that requires all fish from 42″ to 55″ to be released will no longer be in effect. Under the new regulations, anything over 36″ will be prohibited to retain. We see this as a positive because for the longest time fish have been high-graded–removing the biggest fish, truncating the gene pool producing smaller fish.
Similar to other salmon management plans, our ability to fish will be based off a tier system related to the preseason projections. These projections along with the Kenai late run are typically released in March, so we should be getting word any day now. The new tier system will work as follows:
2,800 to 5,600 fish —> closed.
3,900 to 6,600 —> closed or possibly open to catch and release.
6,600 and up —> catch and keep and possibility of bait allowed.
With these new regulations and upward trend in our early run, June fishing in the next couple of years should be better than it has been in the last five years. These new regulations should help in taking some of the pressure off the Kasilof River which sees a lot of pressure when the early run Kenai is closed or heavily restricted. Fingers crossed!