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Area Sport Fishing Reports
September 1, 2023
NOTE: This will be the final monthly fishing report of the season for the Yukon River Drainage Management Area.
Despite recent rain showers, rapid-runoff streams such as Nome Creek and the Ikhèenjik River (Birch Creek), both of which can be accessed from the Steese Highway, are running clear and offer excellent fishing opportunities for Arctic grayling. Remember, Nome Creek is restricted to catch-and-release fishing only for Arctic grayling.
- Conditions are similar for streams within the Fortymile River drainage, which can be accessed from the Taylor Highway, and drainages along the Dalton Highway such as the Jim and Kanuti Rivers. However, be aware that conditions can change rapidly with additional rain. In early autumn, as water levels drop and ambient temperatures cool, Arctic grayling will slowly migrate to downstream areas to overwinter in deeper back eddies.
- Popular gear used to catch Arctic grayling are shiny spoons when the streams are wide enough and colorful jigs for narrower streams and creeks.
- A good video for what you will need to successfully fish for Arctic grayling can be found at: How to Fish for Arctic grayling.
- Sport fishing for northern pike is good at this time of year in slower moving waters. Popular fishing locations for large northern pike are at the mouths of major tributaries that drain into the mainstem Yukon River. The Innoko, Nowitna, and Dall Rivers are known to contain large northern pike. Fishing guides who operate on the Innoko River report that at this time of year fewer, but larger fish are typically caught.
- Similar to Arctic grayling, with the coming of autumn and cooler temperatures, northern pike will move to overwintering areas in lower river tributaries, lakes, or the mainstem Yukon River.
- Popular lures that fishers have reported success in catching northern pike include buzzbait, booyah, jitterbugs, shiny spoons, and shads.
- Sheefish spawn during late September and early October and are currently entering their spawning tributaries in the Nowitna, Innoko, and Alatna Rivers, and Yukon Flats. Prior to spawning, they will mill in back eddies and nearby river confluences (i.e. Porcupine River).
- Large, shiny and/or colorful spoons such as crocodiles, pixies, and daredevils, as well as various shads that mimic juvenile prey, are popular lures for catching sheefish.
- Because female spawning sheefish will be gravid with thousands of eggs, please use proper catch-and-release techniques (see below) so as to not cause undue stress and harm as it is important that they spawn the next generation.
- Sport fisheries for king, coho and chum salmon are closed throughout the Yukon Management Area (excluding the Tanana River) because of weak runs and subsequent pre-season closures of the subsistence fishery. Currently, the king salmon run is nearing completion throughout the entire Yukon River drainage and is one of the lowest on record.
- Fall chum salmon numbers are also trending below average, which has necessitated restrictions and closures to the subsistence fishery. As a result, the commercial and sport fisheries for chum salmon will remain closed for the remainder of the season.
- As of late August, the coho salmon run is trending to be one of the worst on record. As a result, the sport fishery for coho salmon in the Yukon River drainage was closed by emergency order on August 31.
Please review the Emergency Orders and Advisory Announcements below in their entirety before heading out on your next fishing trip:
- Emergency Order 3-KS-Y-3-2023 closes the Yukon River drainage excluding the Tanana River drainage, to sport fishing for king salmon.
- Emergency Order 3-CS-Y-4-2023 closes the Yukon River drainage excluding the Tanana River drainage, to sport fishing for king salmon.
- Emergency Order 3-SS-21-23-2023 closes the Yukon River drainage excluding the Tanana River drainage, to sport fishing for coho salmon.
- Because fish typically grow and reproduce more slowly at high latitudes and elevations, please use proper catch-and-release techniques when engaging in catch-and-release in order to ensure the survival of the released fish such as:
- Use lures with a single hook and crimp down the barb. Do not use bait.
- Land the fish with a soft net and keep the fish in the water when removing the hook.
- To release the fish, hold it gently facing into the current or in water without a current to gently cradle the fish and move it slowly back and forth until it swims away under its own power.
Caution in bear country
- During late summer and early fall, bears will be fattening up on berries in preparation for winter hibernation. So, be especially alert when fishing near large berry patches. Here is some information on staying safe in bear country: Traveling in Alaska's Bear Country
Lastly, be aware in Interior Alaska that moose hunting season commences on September 1 and depending on the location, will go to late September. When fishing where there could be hunters, be sure to wear bright colors.
For More Information
For more information, please call Yukon Area Management Biologist Lisa Stuby at 907-459-7202.