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Area Sport Fishing Reports
Prince William Sound
Halibut fishing generally continues to be good in July. When the weather cooperates, anglers can venture out to Hinchinbrook Entrance, Montague Strait, and the far side of Montague Island for the best halibut fishing. Small boat anglers can obtain decent catches closer to port, but with success rates are often lower. Out of Whittier, good catches can be made in Port Wells and out to Lone Island. Valdez anglers in small boats typically fish the northeast part of the Sound, including Jack Bay, Galena Bay, Port Fidalgo, Knowles Head, and Bligh Reef. Orca Bay and the north side of Hinchinbrook Island provide good fishing for Cordova anglers. The long-term average weight of halibut landed in Valdez in July is about 38 pounds, with about 10% of harvested fish exceeding 85 pounds.
"Feeder" king salmon can be caught around Valdez, Cordova, and Whittier using downriggers fishing 60 feet or deeper. The hatchery runs to Whittier, Cordova, and Valdez tail off by the first week of July.
Also in July, red salmon (sockeye) move up the Copper and Bering Rivers in strong numbers, and start to spread into the tributaries off the Copper River Highway. The fly-fishing only area at the mouth of Eyak Lake is good spot to try in early to mid-July. Anglers also have success fishing from boats in Eyak River. Good sockeye catches are also reported from the western part of the Sound, and from Whittier. Anglers target the Coghill system, as well as Main Bay.
Chum salmon show a strong return to Lake Bay Hatchery on the southern end of Ester Island in early July, and a few show up in systems like Hartney Bay out of Cordova. Chum runs are pretty much done by mid-July.
Pink salmon begin their return in early to mid-July, with the run peaking by mid- to late July on the eastern side of the Sound, and early to mid-August on the western side. Pinks caught in saltwater are bright and feisty, not the tired "humpies" of freshwater fame. Good places near Valdez to try are Jack Bay and Allison Point in the eastern part of the Sound, strong pink returns come into Sheep and Simpson bays near Cordova. Out of Whittier, anglers catch pinks in Wells Passage, Port Wells, and the entrance to Eaglek Bay. Try offering them a pink or orange Pixie.
The much-anticipated silver salmon run begins by the beginning of the second week of July. This early, most of the bright, fat silvers are still out near Bligh Island, but they move in closer to shore as July progresses. In mid-July, in the Valdez area, anglers catch silvers in Jack Bay, Blackstone Point, Sawmill Bay, down through Bligh Reef, and, once the run gets going, right outside the city dock. In the western Sound, silver anglers try their luck around the Coghill system. Out of Whittier, anglers were mooch and troll for silvers around Ester Island and down to Eshamy.
There are some salmon "terminal harvest areas" in Prince William Sound, where bag limits are more liberal. Check the regulation booklet for a description of these areas.
Other Saltwater Fishing Opportunities
Lingcod fishing opens July 1, but special restrictions remain in effect. The limit in Prince William Sound waters east of Cape Puget is two fish daily (four in possession). All lingcod must be at least 35 inches in total length, or 28 inches with the head removed. Gaffs can not be used on fish that are released.
Rockfish fishing remains good in July. From May 1-Sept. 15, the limit is 5 rockfish per day/ 10 in possession, of which no more than 2 per day/ 2 in possession may be non-pelagic species. Anglers must retain the first two non-pelagic rockfish they catch. Additional protection is needed for non-pelagic species because of their extreme longevity and low productivity. Halibut anglers are strongly encouraged to fish with a single large hook (size 16 or larger) and avoid rocky areas to minimize their unintentional rockfish catch. Anglers targeting rockfish are encouraged to fish for black or dusky rockfish in waters less than 10 fathoms (60 feet) to minimize mortality of released fish.
The daily bag limit for sharks is one fish of any species, and the annual limit is two sharks of any species. This includes spiny dogfish as well as salmon and sleeper sharks. Sleeper sharks are generally considered inedible and should be released. All harvested sharks must be recorded immediately upon capture on your license or harvest record. All sharks have high urea content, and are inedible unless handled properly. Bleed your shark immediately upon capture by cutting the underside of the tail, and let the bleeding continue until the heart stops. Gutting the fish with a single cut from the anus to the gills can enhance the quality of the meat. Please do not cut off the head or tail until after the fish is landed to ensure that ADF&G port samplers have an opportunity to obtain measurements.
In July, the herring return to Valdez, and anglers jig for them off the City Dock.
The Division of Sport Fish collects data from the recreational bottomfish fishery in the Whittier and Valdez boat harbors. Fishery technicians interview returning anglers and sample halibut, rockfish, lingcod, and sharks for length, weight, sex, and age statistics. You can help by providing information when interviewed and by returning fish carcasses to the harbor for sampling by the technicians. Information collected by this project is used to monitor the health of the fishery, advise halibut management agencies, and help the Board of Fisheries formulate regulations that protect fish stock and provide maximum fishing opportunity. Contact Barbi Failor in Homer (235-1731) for additional information.
Freshwater Fishing Opportunities
Fishing for cutthroat trout should be good throughout the Sound. The bag limit for trout in all waters other than the Special Management Area is 2 trout per day, 2 in possession of which only one per day and in possession may greater than 20 inches in length, all trout over 20 inches retained must be recorded immediately and only 2 fish over 20 inches per year may be retained.
Anglers are also reminded that the Copper River Delta "Special Management Area for Trout" has been established to protect unique stocks of trout east of the Copper River. Check the regulations for special restrictions and a description of the area.
July opportunities for Dolly Varden are good throughout Prince William, with hungry Dollies following spawning salmon. Try targeting Dollies by presenting them with a dry fly at the water's edge, dead-drifting an egg pattern, or casting a lure with some silver flash to imitate salmon fry and smolt.
Some nice stocked rainbow trout in the 6-8 inch range are caught from Blueberry Lake and Ruth Pond in Valdez. Grayling are stocked in Thompson Lake and Ruth Pond in Valdez. Both these aggressive feeders will go after small spinners or flies. Try an egg-sucking leech, Royal Coachman, or bead-headed Prince nymph.
Shrimp fishing is open until September 15th. Shrimp will begin to move into deeper waters as the fall season progresses. Subsistence Tanner and king crab fisheries are now allowed in winter months. See Prince William Sound subsistence regulation books for these fishery regulations.