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Area Management Biologist
February 27, 2014
Anglers are advised that, in an effort to meet king salmon escapement goals in the Susitna River and Little Susitna River drainages, the following sport fishing restrictions are in effect beginning Thursday, May 1, 2014 in the Susitna River drainage (Units 1-6) and Little Susitna River (please refer to pages 23–32 of the 2014 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet for a complete description of Susitna River waters):
• Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure is allowed. Single-hook means a fish hook with only one point. Treble hooks and more than one single-hook are prohibited. The use of bait is also prohibited.
• Harvest is allowed on the Deshka River (Unit 1), and on specific days within the Yentna River drainage (Unit 4), except for the Talachulitna River. Harvest within Unit 4 (except for the Talachulitna River) will be restricted to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays only; fishing, but not harvest of king salmon is allowed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
• King salmon harvest (of any size) is prohibited within Unit 1 (except on Deshka River), on the Parks Highway streams within Unit 2, the upper Susitna (Unit 3), Talachulitna River (Unit 4), Talkeetna River (Unit 5), and Chulitna River (Unit 6). Fishing, but not harvest of king salmon will be allowed during days and times normally open to king salmon fishing within these management units. Specifically within Unit 2, these days correspond to January 1through the third Monday in June (June 16), and for the next two consecutive three-day weekends (Saturday through Monday, June 21–23 and Saturday through Monday, June 28–30. King salmon may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. In the waters of Unit 2 open to catch-and-release fishing for king salmon, fishing for trout and other species will not be affected by these emergency regulations for king salmon and will continue as written in current regulation.
• King salmon harvest in the Little Susitna River is restricted to Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays only. King salmon harvest (of any size) is prohibited on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays; fishing, but not harvest of king salmon is allowed on these days. King salmon that are intended to be released may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.
• Annual limit of two (2) king salmon 20 inches or longer. The total annual limit of king salmon 20 inches or longer taken from fresh waters of Cook Inlet remains at five (5), but no more than two may be taken in combination from the Susitna River and Little Susitna River drainages.
• Upon harvesting a king salmon over 20 inches in length, a person may not fish for any species of fish on the same day in flowing waters open to king salmon in the Susitna River drainage and the Knik Arm drainages.
• The Eklutna Tailrace is excluded from all restrictions.
Northern Cook Inlet king salmon runs have been well below average since 2007, and this trend is expected to continue in 2014. Below average runs during previous years, past performance of fisheries within the Susitna and Little Susitna drainages under previous years’ management strategies, and uncertainty over how returns may recover in the future justify starting the 2014 season with these restrictions. Data gathered from weirs, boat surveys, and aerial surveys will be used to gauge run strength during the season. This management strategy, in combination with reducing Northern District commercial king salmon fishing periods from five to four periods, and reducing each period from 12 hours to 6 hours, is designed to provide fishing opportunity throughout the season and reduce the potential for midseason closures, yet achieve the escapement goals in Northern Cook Inlet.
For more information, contact Sam Ivey at (907) 746-6300.