Outdoors Digest

Posted: Sunday, February 05, 2006

Fish Board rejects steelhead restriction

The Alaska Board of Fisheries this week rejected a proposal to restrict Southeast Alaska's steelhead sport fishery to catch-and-release angling.

The board also rejected a call to increase the daily limit on coho salmon from six fish to 10, the Ketchikan Daily News reported.

The Tongass Sportfish Association chapter of Trout Unlimited had asked for a catch-and-release steelhead rule. But the board, meeting in Ketchikan, determined that the regional steelhead population is stable and "there are no conservation issues on any stream, and the harvest is what I would classify as fairly low," board member Robert Heyano said.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates the region's steelhead population at 20,000 fish, with about 10,000 of those running up the Situk River near Yakutat. The department puts the annual sport harvest at about 150.

Board member Fred Bouse said catch-and-release proponents worry about lightly populated streams, some of which have only 100-200 steelhead.

Department biologists estimate that 3 percent to 5 percent of the steelhead that anglers release die anyway. "Given that mortality from catch-and-release is probably significantly higher than actual harvest, I think I have a hard time cutting off a very small consumptive harvest," board chairman Art Nelson said.

Forest Service eyes Pack Creek options

The U.S. Forest Service will conduct a public meeting this week to gather comments and discuss options for managing the Pack Creek Zoological Area in Admiralty Island National Monument, Monument Ranger Kathryn Rodriguez announced.

The monument staff worries that the existing forest plan does not adequately protect opportunities for solitude at Windfall Harbor and Swan Cove, Rodriguez said in a written statement. The agency has restricted the growth of commercially guided tourism for six years, and now seeks public participation in crafting a management solution.

The meeting is Tuesday at the Juneau Ranger District, 8465 Old Dairy Road, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Compact discs or hard copies of the landscape assessment are available to those who call 907-790-7481 or e-mail jneary@fs.fed.us.

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