State officials will allow Juneau sport fishermen to get a little more leverage with their rods when they go out for king salmon this spring.
The new regulations for the Juneau area - lasting only from April 15 to June 15 - were adopted as emergency rules by the Alaska Board of Fish in March. They include:
increasing the bag limit for kings from 2 fish to 3.
allowing two rods per fisherman, with a maximum of six lines per boat.
opening, for the first time in several decades, a closed area in Taku Inlet from Cooper Point to the mouth of Dorothy Creek.
It's good news for Juneau residents like Ron Taug, who has been testing the waters around Juneau for kings all winter long and hopes the rules will bump up his chances in the spring.
"When I heard they were relaxing the regulations, I put an extra rod holder on my boat," Taug said. "It won't be any easier than usual to catch kings, but it will give you a better chance."
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game's new regulations will be published Monday. The only areas where the rule change will take effect are 11A and 11B - comprising areas that extend south from the Little Island Lighthouse in Lynn Canal to Midway Island in Stephens Passage.
One reason for the emergency rules is the forecast of a heavy return of 99,000 chinook to the Taku River this year. It's the second highest-ever observed chinook return to the river, said Brian Glynn, a Juneau area sport fish biologist for the Department of Fish and Game.
Why the second rod?
"If we just went with increasing the bag limit, fishermen wouldn't be able to reach that kind of harvest rate on a daily basis," Glynn said.
The percentage of area sport fishermen who harvest two kings per day averages at 1 or 2, Glynn said.
"That's where the other rod comes in. It gives the fisherman a little more leverage," he said.
"Whether one person with two rods will be more effective remains to be seen," he added.
An estimated 23,000 chinook will be available to Juneau-area sport and commercial fishermen in 2005, Glynn said. A majority of those fish come from the Taku.
Unlike established fisheries, the chinook harvest will not be allocated among the fisheries this year. The Board of Fish will likely set allocations for the different gear types at its meeting next winter, Glynn said.
Elizabeth Bluemink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.