Division of Sport Fish
Israel Payton, 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: July 17, 2023 - Expired: August 15, 2023)

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

Sport Fishing for Chum Salmon Closed in the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik Rivers

(Fairbanks) – To protect chum 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 Unalakleet and Shaktoolik River drainages to sport fishing for chum salmon, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 19 through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, August 15, 2023. The closure prohibits catch-and-release fishing, and all chum salmon caught incidentally while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. A concurrent management action for king salmon prohibits the use of bait in all fresh waters from Bald Head to Point Romanof, including the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik River tributaries, through Tuesday, August 15, 2023.

Chum salmon stocks throughout western Alaska continue to experience poor returns, and escapement counts at the North River (a tributary of the Unalakleet River) counting tower and the Unalakleet River weir are well below recent averages. As of July 9, the last day of complete counts, only 9 chum salmon have passed the North River tower. The most recent 5-year average count for this date is 2,654 chum salmon. Additionally, as of July 9, 1,266 chum salmon have passed through the Unalakleet River weir. The most recent 5-year average count for this date is 21,826 chum salmon. On the Shaktoolik River, counts of chum salmon are well behind recent averages as well. Since July 9, high water has disabled operations at the Shaktoolik River tower, the North River tower, and the Unalakleet River weir, and high water is expected to continue for several days. Due to the well-below average counts at both locations and the continued inability to measure escapement due to high water, the closure of the chum salmon sport fishery in the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik River drainages is warranted.

The department will continue to evaluate inseason run strength and take appropriate management actions to help meet fishery objectives. If inseason stock assessment information indicates that the chum salmon escapement in the Unalakleet and Shaktoolik River drainages increases dramatically, 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.