Kodiak Management Area
Fishing Management - Ayakulik (Red) River
The Department of Fish and Games has formulated a Kodiak area sport fisheries management outlook to better inform anglers of the potential management actions that may be taken in response to anticipated weak returns of king salmon to both the Karluk and Ayakulik Rivers.
The Ayakulik River, located on the south end of Kodiak Island approximately 85 air miles from Kodiak city, supports a popular chinook salmon sport fishery as well as smaller fisheries targeting coho, sockeye salmon and steelhead. Most of the angler effort for chinook and sockeye salmon occurs during June through early July, while effort on coho salmon and steelhead occurs in late August through September. All sport fisheries are generally concentrated in the river section approximately 11.5 miles in length between the confluence of the Ayakulik and Red rivers (Bare Creek) and the Ayakulik Lagoon. All but the last river mile in this section is located within the boundaries of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge (KNWR). The lower mile is privately owned, predominately by the Ayakulik Native corporation.
Anglers planning their trip to either Karluk or Ayakulik should be certain to check the land ownership status of the area they're interested in, for possible land use fees.
The Ayakulik is the largest river system on Kodiak Island, flowing 28 miles from the headwaters to the river mouth where it drains into the Shelikof Strait. Anglers generally gain access to the Ayakulik River by float-equipped aircraft. The major access location on the upper Ayakulik River is at its confluence with Bare Creek, from which arriving anglers either float downstream to fish before exiting the fishery at Ayakulik Lagoon, or establish a camp in the vicinity for the duration of their stay. If necessary, the 11.5 mile float trip from Bare Creek to the lagoon can be completed in less than 4 hours. Planning a trip to the Ayakulik River must include an awareness that the depth and length of the lagoon changes from year to year, sometimes making it difficult or impossible for rafters to exit from this location. On these occasions some anglers have resorted to using a helicopter to exit the river, especially when low water at the lagoon prevents floatplanes from landing. Visitors should check with Kodiak air taxi operators on the status of the lagoon while planning travel logistics for their trip.
In recent years, a significant number of visitors to the Ayakulik have expressed concerns to ADF&G and KNWR about overcrowding and other perceived problems during the peak of the king salmon season, which include prime fishing areas being monopolized by anglers camping directly at each site, large visitor groups staying for extended periods of time, and littering. In response to these concerns, the agencies had developed a plan based on public input which included designated, voluntary camping closure zones near seven of the more popular fishing areas along the river between June 1 and July 7. Be sure to contact local Kodiak ADF&G or KNWR for current status of the voluntary closures.