Area Sport Fishing Reports
Archived Sport Fishing Report
June 09, 2023
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June 2023 has started with extremely high water on the Kuskokwim River and in Kuskokwim Bay. Sport fishing and rod-and-reel subsistence fishing is nearly impossible currently due to high flow and turbidity. In addition, a late-arriving spring has made the arrival of king salmon and sheefish into the rivers about two weeks later than usual.
Kuskokwim River Tributaries
* Keep in mind, presence of a particular fish species does not necessarily mean that it is legal to fish for that species. In addition, some waters have terminal tackle restrictions and all have bag and possession limits that may differ between drainages. Please consult the 2023 sport fishing regulations for the waters in which you plan to fish. Sometimes sport fishing regulations are modified inseason, usually in the case of salmon. Please review “Emergency Orders” prior to wetting your line.
- Below-average king salmon returns are expected in 2023. The Kuskokwim River drainage (not including the Kuskokwim Bay streams- Kanektok, Goodnews, and Arolik Rivers) has been closed to king salmon fishing and is expected to remain closed throughout the season.
- Sport fishing for chum salmon has been closed also due to anticipated below-average returns.
- Anglers may use only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the entire Kuskokwim–Goodnews Area.
- Coho salmon runs came in extraordinarily weak in 2022, but the coho run will be assessed in-season as to whether restrictions or closure to the coho salmon fishery will be necessary in 2023.
- King salmon are entering Kuskokwim Bay streams, though it is a late spring and they are about two weeks behind.
- Many of the local rivers support sheefish, Dolly Varden, burbot, rainbow trout, northern pike and Arctic grayling.
- Northern pike fishing improves throughout June as they recover from the rigors of spawning. Anglers will find northern pike in shallow, nearshore waters that are often weedy and adjacent to cooler deeper waters.
- Fishing for burbot at the mouths of Kuskokwim River tributaries is a common local practice. Setlines are allowed for burbot fishing.
- Sheefish migrate up the Kuskokwim River drainage in May and June, and often can be caught with hook and line at the mouths of clear tributaries, notably the Aniak and Holitna Rivers. Please check for news releases from both the Division of Sport Fish Division and Division of Commercial Fisheries to determine whether there have been regulation changes during the season.
- For those that are taking advantage of opportunities for fly-in rafting on several of our local streams (for example the Kwethluk, Kisaralik and Aniak Rivers), local high elevation lakes can provide excellent fishing opportunities for char/lake trout and Dolly Varden during the early morning or late evening hours. Try fishing near outlet and inlets or off points of land that are adjacent to deep waters.
Kuskokwim Bay Tributaries
- Sport fishing for chum salmon is closed through the entire Kuskokwim-Goodnews Management area due to below-average runs.
- Sport fishing for king salmon remains open in the Kuskokwim Bay, but please check for announcements throughout the season. King salmon are entering the Kuskokwim Bay streams, though it is a late spring and they are about two weeks behind. In years that are open to king salmon fishing, sport fishing for king salmon in the Kuskokwim Bay streams generally continues to improve throughout June.
- The Kanektok, Arolik and Goodnews king salmon runs peak in the lower river during the last week of June. Anglers can expect to find fair numbers of king salmon in the mid reaches of the Kuskokwim Bay streams by the end of June.
- Sockeye salmon begin to enter local Kuskokwim Bay streams in the lower sections in early June. Generally, the sockeye salmon run peaks before mid-July in the lower reaches of Kuskokwim Bay streams.
- The coho run will be monitored in-season as to whether restrictions or closure to the coho salmon fishery will be necessary in 2023.
- Remember, anglers may use only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the entire Kuskokwim–Goodnews Area.
- Dolly Varden, rainbow trout, and Arctic grayling fishing this time of year is generally good, but is highly dependent on fishing conditions, particularly water clarity. This year, high water and debris and low visibilty is hampering the early efforts.
- The high elevation lakes offer excellent early opportunities for rafters who put in at the lakes for fishing for char/lake trout and Dolly Varden as soon as the ice is out.
During these times of salmon conservation, it is important to use best practices when handling fish, especially if a fish is accidentally caught that is in a closed fishery. These practices include:
- Keeping the fish in the water
- Using single-hook lures or flies
- When taking pictures, cradle the fish with both hands
- Pinching your barbs down
- If you cannot remove the fly easily, consider cutting the line or the hook
Enjoy these western Alaska fishing opportunities, operate boats in courteous manner, pack out your waste and only leave your footprints. Good luck fishing!
For additional information or concerns, please call (907) 543-1677 or (907) 459-7361.