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Halibut fishing remains hot

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2000

King salmon catch rates improve with arrival of feeder kings; chum and pink salmon are numerous; and halibut fishing remains excellent out in Icy and Chatham Strait and improves in local waters.

King Salmon catch rates in the local Juneau area improved last week due to success with feeder kings. The catch rate of 50 rod hours per fish is similar to the five-year average of 54 rod hours, and is better than the catch rate last year at this time of 100 rod hours per king. Local areas where kings were harvested included the North and South Shelter, the terminal harvest area of Auke Bay/Fritz Cove/upper Gastineau Channel, and Point Retreat.

Chum and pink salmon continue to be plentiful in the Juneau marine waters, and pinks made up the majority of salmon harvested last week. Look for the pink and chum salmon runs to peak in the local Juneau marine waters during the second half of July.

Coho salmon fishing is continuing to slowly improve in the Juneau area. The catch rate last week was 46 rod hours per fish, while last year at this time the catch rate was 6 rod hours, and the five year average is 11 rod hours. Coho salmon were picked up at North and South Shelter, backside of Douglas, Outer Point, and the Auke Bay/Fritz Cove area. Anglers venturing out to Pt. Retreat to Hawk Inlet area, and the Homeshore area of Icy Strait also bagged a few as well. Coho salmon fishing should continue to improve steadily into September.

Halibut effort again compromised approximately half of the angling effort sampled last week, and the catch rate of 8 rod hours per flatfish matched the five year average, and was similar to the catch rate last year at this time of 9 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, St. James Bay, North and South Shelter, the Breadline, the backside of Douglas, and Young's Bay 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 will be effective from July 7 through September 15, 2000. 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 are still available for harvest in Fish Creek Pond at North Douglas, although they 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 September 30, 2000 - 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 not count toward a nonresident's annual limit.

Roadside anglers should also try their luck for chum and king 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 2 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 November 16 through September 14, except at Twin Lakes where bait is allowed throughout the year and in the Fish Creek Pond during June 22 to September 30, 2000. 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 SE of Juneau) is open from June 1 to October 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. Sockeye started entering the creek a few weeks ago. Note that with the expected sockeye return being lower than average, and high water due to the recent rains, you may need to invest some extra time and effort to harvest your fish.

King crab effort and catches increased last week, 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.

As of July 20, 2000 the personal use daily bag and possession limit in Juneau Section 11-A was increased from one to two male red or blue king crab per person. Additionally, the seasonal personal use bag limit was increased from five to ten male red or blue king crab per individual, and from ten to twenty crab per household.

The daily and seasonal bag limits are being liberalized due to an increase in the harvest quota for the personal-use fishery based on data from ongoing red king crab surveys, a stabilization of number of personal use permits being issued, and because the estimated harvest during the first half of July (based on dockside creel surveys) is below levels observed at this time last year.

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!



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