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 - Expires: September 30, 2023)

CONTACT: Andrew Gryska
Area Management Biologist
(907) 459-7339

Tanana River Drainage King Salmon Sport Fishery Closed

(Fairbanks) - To protect king salmon during periods of low abundance and provide future sport fishing opportunities, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has issued an emergency order closing all waters of the Tanana River drainage to sport fishing for king salmon, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, April 5, 2023, through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, September 30, 2023. This closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing, in all waters of the Tanana River drainage, including the Chena, Goodpaster and Salcha Rivers. In addition, when fishing for other species anglers may not use bait in tributaries (i.e., rivers and streams) of the Tanana River. All king salmon caught incidentally while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

The 2023 Yukon River drainage king salmon run is expected to be similar to the 2021 (129,180 king salmon) and 2022 runs (51,000 king salmon), neither of which was large enough to meet minimum escapement objectives. The 2023 preseason forecast is for a total Yukon River drainage run size of 62,000–104,000 king salmon. A run of this size is not expected to meet escapement goals for spawning and will require reduced subsistence fishing opportunity in the Tanana River drainage. Prohibiting bait within tributaries is also a conservative measure to reduce the chance of king salmon being caught while fishing for other species.

While streams in Canada produce about half of the Yukon River king salmon run, the Chena and Salcha Rivers are the two largest contributors to king salmon on the Alaska side of the border, producing approximately 30 percent of the total Yukon River king run. The escapement goal for the Salcha River is 3,300 - 6,500 king salmon and for the Chena River is 3,300 - 5,700 kings. Last year, only 1,130 kings salmon were estimated in the Salcha River and just 355 kings were estimated in the Chena River, which was the lowest estimate on record.

As has been the case the past two years, a conservative management approach is being taken to protect the 2023 king salmon run by closing sport fishing. Restricting the Tanana River king salmon sport fisheries is warranted in order to help meet the king salmon escapement goals on the Chena and Salcha Rivers and is consistent with the conservation measures being taken in Yukon River drainage sport fisheries. If inseason stock assessment information indicates that king salmon escapement goals and subsistence needs in the Tanana River drainage will be met, sport fishing restrictions may be relaxed commensurate with run strength.

For additional information contact Andrew Gryska, Tanana Area Management Biologist at (907) 459-7339 or andy.gryska@alaska.gov.