(Released: March 24, 2017 - Expired: July 13, 2017)
Division of Sport Fish
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Contact: Sam Ivey, Area Management Biologist
(Palmer) - Anglers are advised that in an effort to meet king salmon escapement goals in the Susitna River and Little Susitna River drainages, the following sport fishing restrictions are in effect beginning Monday, May 1, 2017 in the Susitna River drainage (Units 1-6) and Little Susitna River (please refer to the 2017 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet for a complete description of these waters). These restrictions are similar to those contained in preseason emergency orders issued in 2016 for Eastside Susitna tributaries (Units 2, 3, 5, and 6 of the Susitna River) and much of the Yentna River drainage; some of the restrictions that were in place at the start of the 2016 season on the Deshka River, Talachulitna, and Little Susitna rivers are being relaxed for the 2017 season:
- Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure is allowed in the Susitna drainage, except Deshka River. Single-hook means a fish hook with only one point. Treble hooks and more than one single-hook are prohibited.
- King salmon harvest in the Little Susitna River is allowed 7 days per week and multiple hooks are allowed per regulation; the annual limit is restricted to two king salmon. The annual limit is five king salmon greater than 20 inches in Cook Inlet, of which only two may be from the Little Susitna River. Anglers are reminded that per regulation, bait is not allowed.
- Harvest is allowed on specific days within the Yentna River drainage (Unit 4, including the Talachulitna River); the annual limit is restricted to two king salmon. Harvest within Unit 4 will be restricted to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays only; fishing, but not harvest of king salmon is allowed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The annual limit is five king salmon greater than 20 inches in Cook Inlet, of which only two may be from the Yentna River drainage.
- King salmon harvest (of any size) is prohibited within Unit 1 (except on Deshka River), on the Parks Highway streams within Unit 2, the upper Susitna River (Unit 3), Talkeetna River (Unit 5), and Chulitna River (Unit 6). Fishing, but not harvest of king salmon will be allowed during days and times normally open to king salmon fishing within these management units. Specifically within Unit 2, these days correspond to January 1 through the third Monday in June (June 19), and for the next two consecutive three-day weekends (Saturday through Monday, June 24 – 26 and Saturday through Monday, July 1 – 3. King salmon may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. In the waters of Unit 2 open to catch-and-release fishing for king salmon, fishing for trout and other species will not be affected by these emergency regulations for king salmon and will continue as written in current regulation.
- The Deshka River and Eklutna Tailrace are excluded from all restrictions.
Northern Cook Inlet king salmon runs have been below average since 2007, and this trend is expected to continue to 2017. Harvest and escapement data over recent years indicate that additional harvest over 2013 – 2015 levels is sustainable on the Deshka River, Little Susitna, and Talachulitna rivers. Below average runs during previous years, past performance of fisheries within the Susitna River and Little Susitna River drainages under previous years’ management strategies and uncertainty over how returns may recover in the future justify starting the 2017 season with these restrictions. Data gathered from weirs, boat surveys, and aerial surveys will be used to gauge run strength during the season. This management strategy is designed to provide fishing opportunity throughout the season and reduce the potential for midseason closures, yet achieve the escapement goals in Northern Cook Inlet.
For more information, contact Sam Ivey at (907) 746-6300.