Halibut fishing remains excellent out in Icy and Chatham Strait and improves in local waters, chum salmon are numerous in the Juneau area, and king salmon catch rates continue to decline.
King Salmon catch rates in the local Juneau area continue their seasonal decline, with last week dropping to 106 rod hours per fish. In comparison, the catch rate last year at this time was 48 rod hours, and the five-year average is 53 rod hours. Local areas where kings were harvested included the terminal harvest area of Auke Bay/Fritz Cove/upper Gastineau Channel, North Pass, South Shelter, the Breadline, and the backside of Douglas.
Chum salmon continue to be plentiful in the Juneau area, and made up the majority of salmon harvested last week. Pink salmon should be arriving soon as well. Look for the pink and chum salmon runs to peak in the local Juneau marine waters during the second half of July.
Coho salmon are beginning to show up in the Juneau area, albeit later than in the past few years. The catch rate last week was 151 rod hours per fish, while last year at this time the catch rate was 13 rod hours, and the five-year average is 19 rod hours.
Coho salmon were picked up at North and South Shelter, backside of Douglas, and the Auke Bay/Fritz Cove area. Anglers venturing out to Pt. Retreat to Hawk Inlet area, and the Homeshore area of Icy Strait bagged a few as well. Coho salmon fishing should continue to improve steadily into September.
Halibut effort again compromised slightly more than half of the angling effort sampled last week, and the catch rate of nine rod hours per flatfish matched last year's at this time, and was similar to the five-year average of eight rod hours. The majority of the halibut harvest continues to be from Icy Strait and Hawk Inlet to Point Retreat area of Chatham Strait.
Improved success with halibut in the local Juneau area, such as at Benjamin Island, North and South Shelter, the Breadline, and the backside of Douglas indicate that halibut are making their way into our shallower inside waters. Halibut fishing in the Juneau area typically continues to improve into August.
Saltwater sport fishing has been closed in the immediate vicinity of the mouth of Auke Creek, and the closure will be effective from July 7 through Sept. 15.
The closed area is inside of a boundary line extending from the Auke Bay Laboratory boat dock south to the nearest of two white buoys marking the location of the laboratory's saltwater intake pipe, then continuing to an identical second buoy, and finally extending to a departmental regulatory marker on the Fritz Cove shoreline. This closure is necessary to protect the returning adult sockeye salmon to the Auke Lake system.
King salmon began moving into Fish Creek Pond at North Douglas a few weeks ago, and should be nearing their peak soon. Bait is allowed in the pond and seems to work the best, although pixies and buzz bombs can be effective as well. Note that snagging is allowed in this pond during June 22 through Sept. 30. This is the only freshwater area in Juneau where snagging is allowed.
The daily bag and possession limit in the pond is four kings, of which up to three may be 28 inches or larger. King salmon caught in this terminal area do no count toward a nonresident's annual limit.
Roadside anglers should also try their luck for king and chum salmon at the Gastineau Hatchery area. Anglers are reminded that all waters within 150 feet of the Gastineau Hatchery fishing dock and the fishing dock itself are closed to snagging. Any fish hooked elsewhere on the body other than the mouth must be released immediately in this no-snagging area. Areas along the beach near Gastineau Hatchery that are open to snagging are clearly marked.
Dolly Varden and cutthroat trout are also available along the area beaches, such as in Gastineau Channel and beaches out the road, and in local streams with returning early runs of chum salmon.
The daily bag and possession limit for Dolly Varden in both freshwater and from saltwater beaches is two fish per day, no size limit. The daily bag and possession limit for cutthroat and rainbow trout (in combination) is two fish per day, with a 14-inch minimum and 22-inch maximum size limit.
The use of bait is prohibited in all freshwater drainages crossed by the Juneau road system from Nov. 16 through Sept. 14, except at Twin Lakes where bait is allowed throughout the year and in the Fish Creek Pond during June 22 to Sept. 30. Please consult your regulation book for further specifics on the roadside fisheries in the Juneau area.
The personal-use sockeye fishery at Sweetheart Creek in Gilbert Bay (37 miles southeast of Juneau) is open from June 1 to Oct. 31.
Personal-use permits for this sockeye fishery are available at the Division of Commercial Fisheries in Douglas. The daily bag and possession limit is 25 sockeye salmon, and the personal use fishing at Sweetheart Creek is open seven days a week.
King crab effort and catches continued to be moderate, as indicated by our creel sampling on the docks last week. A majority of the harvest was from Section 11-A, which encompasses most local Juneau waters.
Remember that you must have your sport fishing license and personal use harvest permit in your possession when you are harvesting red or blue king crab from those waters. You can obtain that harvest permit from the Commercial Fisheries Regional office in Douglas. If you had a personal use king crab harvest permit from last season, you must turn this in prior to receiving a harvest permit for this season.
Conservation concerns for the red king crab stocks in Section 11-A have prompted the reduction of the personal use daily bag and possession limit to one male red or blue king crab per person. The seasonal bag limit has been reduced to five king crab per individual and 10 king crab per household.
For further information concerning Sport Fish opportunities or regulations, please feel free to contact the Division of Sport Fish at 465-4270. For further information concerning the personal use sockeye and Section 11-A king crab fisheries, please contact the Division of Commercial Fisheries at 465-4250.
Good luck fishing!