Division of Sport Fish
Tom Taube, Acting Director

Anchorage Headquarters Office
333 Raspberry Road
Anchorage, AK 99518

Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner

P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, AK 99811-5526

Advisory Announcement
(Released: March 29, 2023 - Expired: August 15, 2023)

CONTACT: Brendan Scanlon
Area Management Biologist
(907) 459-7268

King Salmon Sport Fishing Closures in Northwest Alaska

(Fairbanks) – To help protect king salmon during periods of low abundance and provide future sport fishing opportunities, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is closing all fresh waters in Northwest Alaska from Bald Head to Point Romanof to sport fishing for king salmon effective 12:01 a.m. April 5, 2023. This closure includes, but is not limited to, the Unalakleet, Shaktoolik, Koyuk, Ungalik, Inglutalik, and Golsovia River drainages. In addition, only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used in these drainages. Restricting fishing gear to one unbaited, single-hook artificial lure should minimize catch-and-release mortality for king salmon incidentally caught while sport fishing for other species. All king salmon caught incidentally may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

These temporary regulations will remain in effect through August 15, 2023, or until there are indications of a harvestable surplus of king salmon above escapement objectives. Escapements are determined by counts compiled at a counting tower on the North River, a tributary of the Unalakleet River, and counts at a floating weir located on the mainstem Unalakleet River.

The 2023 preseason outlook for the Unalakleet River drainage king salmon run is low, and the number of returning king salmon may be insufficient to meet escapement objectives and provide a moderate harvestable surplus for the subsistence fishery. According to the Subdistricts 5 and 6 of the Norton Sound District and the Unalakleet River King Salmon Management Plan (5 AAC 04.395), when the inriver subsistence fishery is closed to the retention of king salmon, sport fishing for king salmon will be closed. At this time, restrictions are planned to close the inriver Unalakleet River subsistence fishery for king salmon effective June 15, 2023. The Shaktoolik, Koyuk, Ungalik, Inglutalik, and Golsovia River drainages are closed as well because the department does not have reliable information for these stocks. However, these stocks trend similar to the Unalakleet River stock and are managed as a unit.

The department will continue to evaluate inseason run strength and take appropriate management actions to help meet escapement objectives. If inseason stock assessment information indicates that the king salmon escapement goal in the Unalakleet River will be met, restrictions may be relaxed.

For additional information contact Brendan Scanlon, Northwest and North Slope Area Management Biologist, at 907-459-7268 or brendan.scanlon@alaska.gov.