Sitka Management Area
The Sitka Management Area includes salt waters adjacent to and all fresh waters of Baranof, Yakobi, and western Chichagof Island from Column Point in the north to Point Hayes in the south. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is the primary land manager; other Sitka area land managers include private individuals, City & Borough of Sitka (CBS), Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), National Park Service (NPS) and native organizations. Fish and game resources within this area are managed out of the Sitka Office of the Department of Fish and Game.
Sitka (about 8,000 residents) is the only large community located within the Sitka Management Area. Smaller communities include Pelican, Baranof Warm Springs and Port Alexander. The Sitka Management Area is linked to other areas in Southeast Alaska, Canada, and Washington via the Alaska Marine Highway system and commuter airline service. Commercial airline service is also available in Sitka. Vast marine areas can be accessed by boat from ports at each community, while localized road systems provide limited access to nearby streams. Remote areas can be accessed via boat or float equipped aircraft.
The Sitka Management Area offers a wide variety of recreational fishing opportunities. Anglers can target all five species of Pacific salmon: king, coho, sockeye, chum and pink. Fisheries for these species occur primarily in marine waters but coho and pink salmon are also targeted to a lesser degree along shoreline areas and in fresh water. The outer coast, with its islands, reefs, and protected bays, provides a wide diversity of marine fish species. Popular sport fisheries occur in marine waters for halibut, lingcod and rockfish, while shellfish such as king and dungeness crab, shrimp and variety of clams support smaller fisheries. Steelhead and anadromous and resident forms of Dolly Varden and cutthroat trout support small freshwater fisheries. Two lakes along the Sitka road system have established populations of brook trout originally introduced in 1936, and Beaver Lake, also on the road system, was recently stocked with Arctic grayling to develop a local sport fishery.
Tourism, including a growing sport fishing charter industry, is vital to the economy of Sitka and other communities. The number of registered charter vessels based in Sitka nearly doubled between 1991 and 1992, and, between 1992 and 1998, doubled again to 240 vessels. In 1998, harvests by anglers aboard charter vessels comprised 65%, 85% and 88% of all king, coho, and halibut harvested in the Sitka marine sport fishery.