Sport fishing effort remains low at many ports, due to the poor weather as well as this being early in the season.
Last week the total weekly amount of sport fishing effort sampled by our creel survey crews at each port ranged from below 100 rod-hours at Elfin Cove, Gustavus, Sitka, Petersburg and Craig/Klawock, to 280 rod-hours in Ketchikan to 517 rod-hours in Juneau. Chinook salmon harvest rates ranged from 6 rod-hours per fish in Sitka to 62 rod-hours in Craig/Klawock. The harvest rates at Petersburg, Sitka and Juneau were better than the recent five-year average, while harvest rates were poorer than the five-year average at the other sampled ports.
The Chinook salmon fishery throughout the region should continue to improve as we near the Memorial Day weekend, and then be productive into mid-July, as the inner Southeast Alaska ports will have hatchery fish returning to enhance local fisheries, while the outer coast ports will continue to have the benefit of access to a mixed-stock Chinook salmon fishery.
Ketchikan, Craig/Klawock, Juneau and Yakutat were the sampled ports that had harvested halibut encountered during last week’s creel surveys, with harvest rates ranging from 5 rod-hours for Yakutat to 50 rod-hours in Ketchikan.
There were no harvested coho, pink, or chum salmon encountered by our creel personnel at the sampled ports last week.
The creel survey in Skagway starts up May 29.
The Juneau sport fishery for king salmon continues to improve, currently requiring an average of 42 rod-hours per king salmon.
Last year at this time it required 111 rod-hours per fish, and the five-year running average is 64 rod-hours per salmon. Anglers are currently having luck harvesting fish in the areas around False Outer Point/Picnic Cove, the Breadline, and the north end of Gastineau Channel. Chinook salmon fishing should continue to improve in the coming weeks with an expected peak around Memorial Day.
The 2012 sport fishing regulations for king salmon in Southeast and Yakutat are in effect and are as follows:
• Alaska residents: bag and possession limit of three king salmon 28 inches or greater in length. No annual limit.
• Nonresident: bag and possession limit of one king salmon 28 inches or greater in length. Except during the month of May when the bag and possession limit is two king salmon 28 inches or greater in length. The nonresident annual limit is four king salmon 28 inches or greater in length.
For the District 11 waters around the Juneau area the king salmon regulations have been liberalized between the dates of April 25 and June 30.
The Department of Fish and Game reminds anglers that beginning April 30 marine boat anglers possessing sport caught king and coho salmon, lingcod or non-pelagic rockfish may not fillet, mutilate, or de-head these fish until the fish have been offloaded, unless they have been consumed or preserved onboard. Gutting and gilling is allowed. Once you offload at port, you may head and/or fillet your catch. This restriction allows our creel survey crew at the docks to check for coded-wire-tags and collect biological information. Please check the news release for communities and designated time frames in which the restriction applies.