Division of Sport Fish
Tom Taube, Acting Director

Anchorage Headquarters Office
333 Raspberry Road
Anchorage, AK 99518

Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner

P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, AK 99811-5526

Advisory Announcement
(Released: March 29, 2023 - Expires: December 31, 2023)

CONTACT: John Chythlook
Area Management Biologist
(907) 459-7361

Kuskokwim River Drainage Closed to Sport Fishing for King Salmon

(Fairbanks) - To help protect king salmon during periods of low abundance and provide future sport fishing opportunities, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is closing the entire Kuskokwim River drainage (including all tributaries) to sport fishing for king salmon, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, April 5 through Sunday, December 31, 2023. This closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing. This does not include the Kuskokwim Bay drainages of the Arolik, Goodnews and Kanektok Rivers. In addition, when fishing for other species anglers may use only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the Kuskokwim River drainage. All king salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

The Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Plan (5 AAC 07.365) allows for sport and commercial harvest opportunity on surplus king salmon in excess of escapement and subsistence needs. Indications are that the Kuskokwim River king salmon run in 2023 will be similar to the 2022 run. In 2022, the estimated total run for Kuskokwim River king salmon was approximately 143,622 and the spawning escapement was approximately 106,000, above the lower bound of the drainagewide escapement goal range (65,000 – 120,000). However, there were substantial closures of the subsistence fishery, and restrictions to the subsistence king salmon fishery are expected again in 2023. If the 2023 king salmon run materializes as expected, there will not be enough fish for subsistence needs, and the sport fishery will remain closed.

Prohibiting bait in the sport fishery is also a conservative measure to reduce the chance of king salmon being caught while fishing for other species.

The numbers of king salmon returning to the Kuskokwim River will be closely monitored using sonar counts, test fisheries, and reports from fishers. In accordance with the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Plan, if the data suggests that the run is large enough to provide harvest opportunity on surplus king salmon in excess of escapement and subsistence needs, the sport fishery may open.

For additional information contact John Chythlook, Kuskokwim-Goodnews Area Management Biologist at 907-459-7361 or john.chythlook@alaska.gov.