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Sport Fish Area Fishing Report
Prince William Sound
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- September - November
August still sees plenty of pink salmon action throughout Prince William Sound. Jumpers can be seen nearly everywhere and good catches come in from Sheep and Simpson bays out of Cordova. Allison Point in Valdez is a popular place for shore anglers in early to mid-August. Later in the month, a few large bright fish can still be caught trolling from Valdez out to the Narrows. Out of Whittier, August anglers catch pinks in Wells Passage, Port Wells, and the entrance to Eaglek Bay.
Pinks will wind down around the third week of August, just about time for the silver salmon fishing to heat up. Valdez has hatchery-enhanced runs returning in mid-August. Valdez anglers anxious for early bright, feisty silvers should try Anderson Bay, Shoup Bay, and Gold or Mineral creeks. Silver salmon anglers can also try the mouths of Galena and Jack bays, Pt. Freemantle, Busby Island, and the Anderson waterfall. Allison Point in late August is a good place to be for excellent silver action. The City of Valdez sponsors a silver salmon derby in late July through Sept. Call the Valdez Convention & Visitor's Bureau for more information at (907) 835-4636, or check their website at www.valdezalaska.org.
On the western side of the Sound, look for silvers in Port Wells, near Esther Island, the Dutch Group islands, and Perry Island. Whittier anglers target Wells Passage, Pigot Bay, Culross Passage, and Decision Point. Shore-based anglers must wait until the last week of August for silvers to arrive in the Whittier harbor.
In Cordova, look for silvers around mid-August at the mouth of the Eyak River, and in Orca Inlet, with the run peaking in early September. Silvers that have been stocked return to Fleming Spit around mid-August and peak in early September.
General salmon bag limits for Pink and Chum salmon are 6 per day 12 in possession. Other species and some areas have area-specific limits so look at the regulation book before fishing for salmon.
In almost all marine and fresh waters of Prince William Sound only 3 per day and 3 in possession may be silver salmon. However, the following 5 areas have "special" silver salmon regulations, and some we define as "Terminal Harvest" areas. Both these special areas have the following bag/possession limits for salmon 16" or longer (other than kings):
* Shelter Bay: 6 per day/12 in possession, only 1 silver salmon allowed.
* Cordova area: 6 per day/12 in possession, all salmon may be silvers
* Whittier area: 6 per day/12 in possession, all salmon may be silvers
* Valdez area: 6 per day/12 in possession, all salmon may be silvers
* Chenega area: 6 per day/12 in possession, all salmon may be silvers.
For specific descriptions of these areas, check the Southcentral sport fishing regulation booklet. "I didn't know" is not considered a legal excuse.
Sockeye (red) salmon also provide some saltwater opportunity in Prince William Sound in early and mid-August, but taper off quickly by the end of August. Good places to target sockeye are on the western side of the Sound in Eshamy and Main bays. The Coghill system, in Port Wells, may also produce fair sockeye fishing in early August.
A few feeder king salmon can be picked up around Valdez, Cordova, and Whittier. Try using downriggers fishing 60 feet or deeper. Since 1999, ADF&G Sport Fish has stocked king salmon smolt in Whittier, Cordova and Valdez. You may keep only 2 king salmon per day and have only 2 in possession as part of your total salmon bag limits.
Chum salmon are also available in streams throughout the Sound, around Esther Island, and systems like Hartney Bay out of Cordova usually produce some nice catches.
Saltwater Fishing Opportunities
Nice weather and hard fishing during the early part of August can bring in some good halibut catches. Montague Island, Wessels Reef out in the Gulf, Seal Rocks, Channel Island off Green Island, and the Hinchinbrook Lighthouse area often bring in good-sized fish. A bit closer to Valdez, anglers land nice-sized halibut from Jack and Sawmill bays, Bligh Reef, and Middle Rock. On the western side of the Sound, try fishing in Port Wells; off Coghill Point; in Eaglek, Long, or Pigot bays; and around the Dutch Group islands. A few halibut in the 100-130 pound range have come into Whittier.
Catch rates can sometimes drop in mid-August as larger fish disperse from summer feeding areas. The average weight of harvested halibut should be around 30-35 pounds.
Lingcod fishing remains open with special restrictions 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 length, and fish that are released can not be gaffed.
Rockfish fishing should remain good. Until 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.
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 be 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.
August opportunities for Dolly Varden are excellent throughout Prince William Sound, with hungry Dollies following spawning salmon upstream in August. 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" range are caught from Blueberry Lake and Ruth Pond in Valdez. Grayling were stocked in 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.