King salmon catch rates in the local Juneau area remained fair last week due to success with feeder kings. The catch rate of 49 rod hours per fish is similar to the five-year average of 56 rod hours, and is better than the catch rate last year at this time of 111 rod hours per king. Local areas where kings were harvested included North and South Shelter, Outer Point, Auke Bay, Fritz Cove, and Gastineau Channel.
Chum and pink salmon catch rates in the local Juneau marine waters are beginning to slow down, as these fish have been entering the freshwater streams.
Coho salmon fishing continues to slowly improve in the Juneau area, although several weeks behind the usual run timing. The catch rate last week was 31 rod hours per fish, while last year at this time the catch rate was five rod hours, and the five-year average is nine rod hours. Coho salmon were caught at St. James Bay, North and South Shelter Islands, the backside of Douglas, and Young's Bay. Anglers venturing further out to Pt. Retreat and Funter Bay also harvested coho. Coho salmon fishing should continue to improve steadily into September.
Halibut catch rates dropped to 12 rod hours per fish last week, while this time last year the catch rate was eight rod hours, and the five-year average is nine rod hours. Last week the majority of halibut sampled were caught in Juneau waters, rather than further out in Icy and Chatham straits.
North and South Shelter and the Breadline were halibut hot spots, as well as the backside of Douglas. Halibut fishing in the Juneau area typically continues to improve into August.
King salmon are still available in Fish Creek Pond at North Douglas. Bait is allowed 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, and this is the only freshwater area in Juneau where snagging is allowed. The daily bag and possession limit in the pond is four kings; up to three may be 28 inches or larger. Kings caught in this terminal area do not count toward a non-resident'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 runs of chum and pink 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.
The rains of late July and resulting high water levels have brought in the sockeye to Sweetheart Creek. People are urged to use caution and common sense while fishing at Sweetheart Creek, as a brown bear sow with two cubs was observed in the area last weekend. Don't leave your fish unattended, make sure you clean your fish and dispose of carcasses in the water, stay on the trail, make noise, and avoid encounters with bears.
King crab effort and catches have been increasing in recent weeks. 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, 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 10 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!