Area Management Biologist
June 13, 2014
Sport fishing gear restrictions implemented in the Deshka River in advance of the king salmon season are being repealed. The use of bait and multiple hooks (treble hooks and two hooks) will be allowed effective 6:00 a.m., Saturday, June 14.
The Sustainable Escapement Goal on the Deshka River is 13,000 – 28,000 king salmon. Through 9 a.m., June 13, cumulative king salmon passage through the weir located at river mile 7 was 10,016 fish. On average, approximately 25% of the spawning escapement has passed the weir by this date, but there are indications that run timing may be earlier than average. Although a below average run is still expected, early run time models indicate the goal will be achieved after incorporating an expected 3,000 fish harvest resulting from this action. Therefore, it is warranted to rescind the gear restrictions placed previously on the Deshka River king salmon sport fishery.
The preseason strategy, aimed at reducing harvest by as much as 70% across the Susitna drainage, remains in place to conserve areas of the Susitna drainage that may not be able to sustain harvest, such as those given stock of concern status by the Alaska Board of Fish. Below average runs during previous years, past performance of fisheries within the Susitna River drainage under previous years’ management strategies and uncertainty over how this year’s return may continue to justify these restrictions:
• 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 drainage (including Deshka River) and Little Susitna River.
• Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure is allowed, excluding the Deshka River. Single-hook means a fish hook with only one point. Treble hooks and more than one single-hook are prohibited.
• 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.
• 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 is restricted to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays only; catch-and-release fishing is allowed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Harvest is allowed on the Deshka River seven days per week.
• 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). Catch-and-release fishing will be allowed during days and times normally open to king salmon fishing within these management units. 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.