Area Sport Fishing Reports
The 2020 preseason inriver forecast of 4,276 king salmon fell within the Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 3,800-7,600 fish; however, given the uncertainty with recent annual runs preseason restrictions were issued. King salmon escapement was monitored on the South and North forks of Anchor River beginning in early-May and continued throughout the run. The preliminary escapement estimate of 3,558 fish which failed to achieve the SEG. The cumulative run-timing to both forks (July 5) was 22 days late compared to the historical average mid-point of June 14. The sport fishery occurred for 12 days prior to closing by emergency order. Fishing was described as poor over the season.
A preseason emergency order effective May 16, 2020, restricted sport fishing gear to one unbaited, single-hook artificial lures during king salmon season.
On June 3, 2020, the Anchor River and Deep Creek closed to all sport fishing through July 15.
No preseason forecast was estimated for the 2020 wild Ninilchik River king salmon run. Hatchery king salmon are stocked in the Ninilchik River to support the inriver sport fishery. The fishery occurred with preseason restrictions that prohibited the retention of wild king salmon. The harvest of hatchery king salmon was allowed during both the three 3-day weekends and the hatchery only season. The hatchery king salmon run was above average and provided anglers good fishing over both seasons.
King salmon escapement was fully enumerated just above the fishery for the second year at approximately two miles upstream from the mouth. An instream video weir was operated from mid-May to early-August at this location, and the count was 1,114 wild king salmon and 2,151 hatchery king salmon. The mid-point of the wild and hatchery runs to the lower weir were, on June 17, 2020, and June 29, respectively.
The broodstock collection weir, located approximately five miles upstream from the mouth, was still used to monitor escapement in regard to meeting the current Sustainable Escapement Goal (SEG) of 750-1,300 wild king salmon. The broodstock collection weir location also used instream video and was operated from mid-May through mid-August. The wild weir count was 960 king salmon and the hatchery weir count was 2,047 king salmon. After accounting for the removal of broodstock, the escapement was 833 wild king salmon, which met the SEG. Based on weir counts at both locations, 86% of the wild king salmon and 95% of the hatchery king salmon counted through the lower weir also reached the broodstock collection weir.
A preseason emergency order effective May 23, 2020, reduced the king salmon limits to one hatchery king salmon, 20 inches or greater in length in the Ninilchik River drainage.
On June 16, 2020, sport fishing gear was restricted to one unbaited, single-hook artificial lure through July 15 in the Ninilchik River drainage. In additional annual limit requirement for hatchery king salmon was removed through October 31.
No preseason forecast was estimated for the 2020 Deep Creek king salmon run. The fishery began with preseason restrictions based on management actions for the Anchor River and forecasted below average runs throughout Cook Inlet. Deep Creek has a SEG of 350 king salmon and was assessed post-season via a single aerial survey. The 2020 survey occurred on July 29, 2020 and 327 king salmon were counted, which failed to achieve the SEG. The 2020 king salmon escapement was also fully enumerated using an ARIS sonar and underwater video weir located approximately 2.5 miles upstream from the mouth. The preliminary escapement estimate was 1,957 king salmon with the mid-point of the run on July 3. In 2020, the Deep Creek king salmon sport fishery occurred for 6 days before closing by emergency order. Fishing was described as poor to fair.
A preseason emergency order effective May 16, 2020, restricted gear to unbaited, single-hook artificial lures during king salmon season.
On June 3, 2020 the Anchor River and Deep Creek closed to all sport fishing through July 15.
Sport fishing for king salmon in Cook Inlet was popular in both the Winter (September 1-March 31) and the Summer (April 1-August 31) fisheries. The summer fishery in north of Bluff Point began with preseason restrictions to protect king salmon returning to Cook Inlet drainages. Statewide Harvest Survey harvest estimates for these fisheries and will not be available until 2020. In general, fishing was good and angler effort was high in the fall months of the winter fishery. Effort was low in Upper Cook Inlet during the summer fishery.
A preseason emergency order effective Aril 1, 2020, reduced the king salmon annual limit of fish 20 inches or greater in length from five to two fish in the Cook Inlet saltwaters North of the latitude of Bluff Point ( 59° 40.00' N. lat).
One June 3, 2020, king salmon fishing was prohibited, including catch-and-release,,in the Upper Cook Inlet saltwaters within one mile of shore North of the latitude of Bluff Point ( 59° 40.00' N. lat) through July 15.
On July 24 king salmon fishing was prohibited, including catch-and-release,,in the Upper Cook Inlet saltwaters within one mile of shore North of the latitude of Bluff Point ( 59° 40.00' N. lat) through July 31.
In 2020, the stocking goals were met for Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (NDFL) on the Homer Spit with approximately 315,000 king salmon smolt and 120,000 coho salmon smolt. This year’s king salmon stocking was the third consecutive year with a 30% increase over historical stockings. Statewide Harvest Survey estimates harvest for these fisheries and will not be available until 2021. Overall, the king salmon fishery was likely above-average harvest for recent years and the coho salmon fishery was likely below-average. There were several hundred king salmon harvested by anglers during the period open to snagging.
On June 30, 2020, snagging was allowed in the NDFL through July 2 to harvest the remainder of the king salmon milling in the lagoon prior to coho salmon returning.
No management actions were implemented during the 2020 coho salmon sport fishery season.
The China Poot Creek personal use dip net fishery does not require a permit for participation so there is no harvest and effort data available for 2020. Participants reported harvesting fewer sockeye salmon this season compared to the last few years. The reduced success is most likely attributed to changes in commercial fishing, cost recoveries operations associated with the stocking and potentially smaller overall run size.
No management actions were implemented during the 2020 personal use fishery.
All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches remained closed to sport and personal use clamming in 2020 due to the continued historical low abundances of adult-sized razor clams at Clam Gulch and Ninilchik. The affected area runs from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit. Little recruitment of new juvenile clams was detected at the Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches during the spring/summer abundance surveys. Abundance of juvenile clams is still well above historical average and adult abundances are increasing but still below the historical averages.
A preseason emergency order effective January 3, 2020, closed all Eastside Cook Inlet beaches to personal use and sport clamming for all clam species from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit for 2020.
The Westside Cook Inlets beaches remained open to commercial, sport, and personal use clamming in 2020. Harvest estimates for the sport fishery are not available yet.
No management actions were implemented during the 2020 sport fishery.
The 2019 - 2020 season occurred from October 1, 2019, through March x, 2020. The 2019 Kachemak Bay trawl survey estimated abundance of legal male crab was sufficient to trigger the standard sport and subsistence fisheries in Kachemak Bay which increased the gear from one to two pots and increased the bag and possession limit from three to five legal male crab. In all other areas the sport and subsistence fisheries were limited to one pot and the bag and possession of three legal male crab. The preliminary combined sport and subsistence Tanner crab harvest in the Cook Inlet & North Gulf Coast area was 7,690 male Tanner crab. During the 2019 - 2020 season, 1,407 sport and subsistence permits were issued. Of these, 90% reported and will be eligible to receive a permit for the upcoming season. In total, 124 individuals did not report and are ineligible to receive a permit for the 2020 - 2021 season. The Kachemak Bay Tanner crab trawl survey was not conducted in 2020 due to budget reductions. The 2020 - 2021 sport and subsistence limited fisheries are scheduled to open on October 1, 2020. Permits are only available through ADF&Gs online store.
On September 1, 2020, a preseason emergency order was issued to close the standard fishery in the month of September in Kachemak Bay to stay within the guideline harvest level during the 2019 - 2020 tanner crab fishery season.