During the closure, effective from 6 a.m. June 25 through July 13, kings may not be targeted for any type of fishing, including catch-and-release fishing. Kings may not be retained, and any kings caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be immediately released.
On Wednesday, Fish and Game opened the mouth of the lower Kuskokwim for chum and sockeye salmon fishing for three days effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The rolling restriction will subsequently open other areas upstream to fishing for short periods.
As of June 21, Fish and Game’s Deshka River weir had recorded the passage of 6,852 kings with a projected total of 11,350 fish, versus a sustainable escapement goal of 13,000 to 28,000 fish.
“Any additional mortality associated with harvest or catch-and-release cannot be justified at this time and all fish entering the lower Deshka River and the rest of the Susitna drainage must be conserved if escapement goals are to be attained,” officials wrote.
The fishing bans have been met with opposition in southwest Alaska, where some residents have continued to fish in protest against them. State and federal officials seized about 1,100 pounds of illegally taken fish on the lower Kuskokwim Wednesday, but denied claims that they were taking fish from drying racks at subsistence fish camps.
Officials also said Friday that bait and multiple-hook restrictions in effect on the Deshka River will remain in place through July 13.