Area Sport Fishing Reports
Below average escapements since 2012 have resulted in preseason and inseason restrictions and closures on the Deshka, Eastside, Talkeetna, and Yentna king salmon stocks. 2022 marks the third year of king salmon management under four stock-based goals set on the Susitna River drainage. The preseason forecast for Deshka River king salmon was for a total run 9,332 king salmon, with an 80% prediction interval of 5,637 – 15,450 fish. Given a forecast within but near the low end of the BEG a cautionary approach to management was again warranted and the Deshka king salmon fishery started the 2022 season as a catch-and-release fishery only. The Deshka weir is a tool for gauging run strength during the season and making regulatory adjustments accordingly. Catch-and-release fishing was also allowed by emergency order in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainage and sport fishing gear was restricted to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in all flowing waters of the Susitna drainage. Similar to 2020-2021, the Little Susitna River started the 2022 season as a catch-and-release fishery only as the sustainable escapement goal (SEG) on the Little Susitna was attained in 2020-2021 near the low end of the SEG range with a catch-and-release fishery in place. However, the past several years had demonstrated no apparent trend in abundance.
The BEG for the Deshka River of 9,000 - 18,000 king salmon was not achieved in 2022. The sport fishery was closed effective June 20, at the midpoint of the run. The run was on time relative to historical run timing. The final weir count was 5,437 king salmon. Aerial escapement surveys were conducted in late July on two streams contributing to the Yentna king salmon stock, Lake Creek and Peters Creek. Poor weather conditions contributed to high water events through the end of July, resulting in poor counting conditions; the Talachulitna River and Alexander Creek were not surveyed. Assessment of the Yentna optimal escapement goal (OEG) is pending data analysis; however, counts on Lake Creek and Peters Creek were below average for those streams (Yentna SEG 13,000 - 22,000; Yentna OEG 16,000 - 22,000). The age composition of the Deshka Chinook run and forecast for the 2022 season in pending analysis of age data collected at the Deshka River weir.
A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2022, restricted king salmon fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainage to catch-and-release only.
On July 20 Deshka River closed to sport fishing by Emergency Order.
On July 23, the remainder of Units 1-6 closed to sport fishing by Emergency Order.
Management decisions effecting Eastside Susitna streams (Units 2, 3, 5, and 6) are based upon postseason aerial surveys over eight streams that are used to estimate run size and escapement of the Eastside (Unit 2 streams along the Parks Highway) king salmon stock and the Talkeetna River stock, which are two new stock goals in place since 2020. Some streams weren’t surveyed due to poor weather conditions and high water. Counts were successfully conducted on Willow, Little Willow, North Fork Kashwitna, and Montana creeks that collectively contribute to the Eastside king stock and Clear and Prairie creeks that contribute to the Talkeetna stock. Assessment of the Eastside and Talkeetna stock goals is pending data analysis; however, counts on these systems were some of the lowest on record. The Chulitna River survey was not feasible due to poor water conditions.
A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2022, restricted king salmon fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainage to catch-and-release and fishing was restricted to only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure.
On July 23, the remainder of Units 1-6 closed to sport fishing.
The SEG for the Little Susitna River is 2,100 - 4,300 king salmon as assessed by weir and 700 - 1,500 fish as assessed by post season aerial survey. This weir-based goal is the primary goal used for assessing escapement unless flooding or some other event results in an incomplete weir count. Use of video at this site has enabled fish to be counted even during periods of high spring runoff when water clarity is poor as was the case throughout the majority of the 2022 season. The SEG was achieved on July 4 post closure of the sport fishery on June 20 due to low weir counts. A final count of 2,288 fish was within the goal range and considered to be a complete count for 2022.
A preseason emergency order effective May 1, 2022, restricted king salmon fishing in the Little Susitna River drainage to catch-and-release only. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure was allowed in the waters normally open to king salmon fishing in the Little Susitna River drainage. Sport fishing for other species was allowed seven days per week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
On July 20, the Little Su was closed to sport fishing by Emergency Order.
Sport fisheries on the Chuitna, Theodore, Lewis, and the Beluga rivers drainages are closed by regulation. SEGs on the Chuitna and Theodore rivers could not be assessed this year due to poor survey conditions.
Weirs were operated to count sockeye salmon escapement into two lakes: Judd Lake (Talachulitna River) and Larson Lake (Larson Creek) on the Susitna River. The weir on Chelatna Lake (Lake Creek) was not operated this year due to budget reductions. On Larson Creek, the sport fishery is in relatively close proximity to the weir, allowing for timely inseason management of the fishery. The Larson Creek SEG of 15,000 - 35,000 sockeye salmon was achieved on August 3 with a final count of 17,436 fish. The SEG for Judd Lake was also attained with a count of 38,442 fish (SEG 15,000 - 40,000).
A Susitna River personal use dip net fishery was implemented by the Board of Fisheries in 2020 to take place on the lower Susitna River from a point located approximately one mile below the old Susitna Station, downstream to the Alexander Creek turnoff/tip of Bell Island. This fishery in remote and only accessible by boat or short field performance aircraft capable of landing on gravel bars. The fishery is part of the Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use Salmon Fishery management plan and occurs each Saturday and Wednesday between 6:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. from July 10 through July 31. 2022 was the third year of this fishery. Fishing effort mostly mirrored last season with relatively low participation. Fishing success increased incrementally with each period through the end of July.
No management actions were implemented during the 2022 sport fishery season.
A weir is operated on Fish Creek to assess escapement and as a tool to manage the personal use dip net fishery. The SEG for the Fish Creek is 15,000 - 45,000 sockeye salmon. By management plan, a personal use dip net fishery may be opened by emergency order between July 15 and July 31, if the escapement can be projected to be above 35,000 fish. Due to budget cuts, the weir was staffed only for the purpose of managing the personal use fishery through the end of July. About 58,300 sockeye salmon were counted prior to the weir closing down. The dip net fishery was opened on July 21 for 11-days. Positive dipnetting reports combined with a strong run suggests harvest estimates will be above average.
On July 21, 2022, the Fish Creek Personal Use Dip Net Fishery was opened for all salmon species, except king salmon through July 31.
On August 1, sport fishing was allowed 7 days a week and bag limits were increased to six per day and six in possession on Fish Creek targeting sockeye salmon.
Due to budget reductions and impending flood waters, the Deshka weir was pulled August 8. Through this date 3,137 coho salmon were counted. The projected escapement was steadily building toward the low end of the SEG of 10,200-24,100 prior to the weir being pulled. Fishing success was consistent and mostly good during the season, indicating adequate escapement on the Deshka and other Susitna drainage tributaries.
No management actions were implemented during the 2022 sport fishery season.
The Little Susitna weir was inundated by flood waters for the majority of the coho season. Projected escapement was within the SEG range going into a flood that overtopped the weir at the historical quarter point of the run, August 6, and then lasted for a month. Bait went into effect by regulation the same day the weir became flooded. Fishing harvest rate as estimated by angler reports (fee booth exit survey) was above average throughout most of the season, even during the flood. Even though the count was lost due to flooding, the SEG of 9,200-17,700 likely would have been attained. A weir count of 3,162 fish is considered an incomplete and minimal count.
The weir at Fish Creek was pulled at the end of July. The coho salmon run was not counted this season due to budget cuts. The SEG for Jim Creek of 250 - 700 coho salmon is assessed post season by a foot survey of McRoberts Creek, a small spawning tributary within the Jim Creek system. The survey counted 1,899 coho salmon. Fishing was reported to be good this season at Jim Creek and other Knik Arm streams.
No management actions were implemented during the 2022 sport fishing season.
Coho salmon escapement is not monitored on West Cook Inlet (WCI) area streams and ADF&G must rely on trends in harvest and angler effort taken from the Statewide Harvest Survey and reports from anglers and guides when assessing these stocks. Sport fishing success as reportedly good this season in tributaries of WCI.
No management actions were implemented for the 2022 sport fishing season.