Area Sport Fishing Reports
November 4, 2020
Updated Travel Information 11/3/2020
An excellent resource for planning a trip to Sitka is the gofishak interactive map which provides information on fishing locations, species run timing, fishing gear and angler access.
Just a reminder to all our anglers, please do your part to help slow the spread of Covid-19 by following and reviewing the current State of Alaska Health Mandates in effect. This includes practicing social distancing and wearing a face covering while sport or personal use fishing and when buying fishing supplies from your local store as indicated in Health Alert 010.
Also note that new Interstate Travel Protocols began on October 16th, 2020. For more information on travel restrictions please visit the State of Alaska Traveler Information page.
For king salmon, make sure you have purchased a king salmon stamp and always check for any updated emergency orders before fishing. Beginning October 1st, 2020 and continuing through December 31st, 2021, the regulations are below. Note that these regulations will be updated as necessary as information from the Southeast Alaska Winter Troll Fishery Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) becomes available- this may direct changes in the regulations.
The daily bag and possession limit for king salmon is one. All king salmon must be 28 inches or greater in length. From October 1st, 2020 through March 31st, 2021 resident sport anglers may use two rods per person when fishing for king salmon. A person using two rods may only retain salmon.
The daily bag and possession limit is one king salmon. All king salmon must be 28 inches or greater in length. Immediately upon landing and retaining a king salmon a nonresident must enter the species, date, and location, in ink, on the back of their sport fishing license or on a nontransferable harvest record.
- From October 1 through December 31, 2020 the total harvest limit is one king salmon, 28 inches or greater in length, and any king salmon previously harvested from January 1 through September 30, 2020 will apply toward the one fish total harvest limit;
- From January 1 through June 30, 2021 the annual harvest limit is three king salmon, 28 inches or greater in length;
- From July 1 through July 7, 2021 the annual harvest limit is reduced to two king salmon, 28 inches or greater in length, and any king salmon harvested from January 1 through June 30 will apply toward the two fish limit;
- From July 8 through December 31, 2021 the annual harvest limit is reduced to one king salmon, 28 inches or greater in length, and any king salmon harvested from January 1 through July 7 will apply toward the one fish harvest limit.
Despite lower number of visitors for the season, we saw an above average number of kings caught in our Marine Sampling program. Many residents and visitors alike were able to take advantage of the liberal catch limits and are heading into winter with big smiles and full freezers.
Sockeye salmon had a good year with over 41,000 fish having returned to Redoubt Lake. The sockeye runs came in late across the region, but most streams were able to meet their escapement goals.
The local coho runs in the Sitka area were a mixed bag. Some streams showed an average run, but most escapements were on the low side. This was reflected in the less than stellar catch rates compared to many of the last several years. Cohos are winding down their runs in the streams as winter sets in. As you enjoy the outdoors over the winter please be careful to limit walking through streams and gravel beds where salmon have laid their eggs.
Based on the marine harvest program, halibut fishing was hotter than average with less rod hours than usual needed to catch a fish. Halibut will move back to deeper waters over winter where they will dream of next year’s salmon runs like the rest of us.
In 2020 Demersal Shelf Rockfish fishing is closed. This subset of nonpelagic rockfish includes Yelloweye, Quillback, China, Tiger, Rosethorn, Copper, and Canary. Fishing for slope rockfish and pelagic species is still open year-round. The department has developed a guide to assist anglers in identifying species groupings.
Pelagic rockfish fishing (including; Black, Blue, Yellowtail, Dark, Dusky, and Widow) is open year- round and is a popular wintertime fishery. These fish are frequently found around submerged rockpiles and kelp beds.
As of 2020, anglers are required to use a deepwater release device to return rockfish that are not harvested to the depth of capture or 100 feet, whichever is shallower. Please see the Southeast Alaska Sport Fish Regulation Summary or visit your local ADF&G office to see examples of rockfish release devices and learn about their use.
Be sure to check your local fishing regulations to be aware of harvest limits and size requirements for shellfish. Be aware that certain types of shellfish in Southeast Alaska have been known to cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) which can be fatal.
Anglers fishing for shrimp are required to obtain a free permit for sport, personal use or subsistence shrimp harvest for each calendar year. 2020 Southeast Shrimp Permits are available online at the ADF&G store or at your local ADF&G office. The shrimp harvest, location, and number of pots pulled must be recorded each day, and the permit must be returned to ADF&G or reported online at the end of the year.
Dolly Varden and Rainbow/Cutthroat Trout
Dolly Varden and Rainbow/cutthroat trout can be targeted year-round and actively feed in spring as the water warms up. These fish target pink and chum fry as they out-migrate streams. Look for them in fresh waters and near the mouths of rivers.
To satisfy your winter fishing urges, there are several lakes on the Sitka Road System that contain rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout, as well as grayling and Dolly Varden. See the interactive map for more details.
For further information, please feel free to contact the Sitka area sportfish management staff at (907) 747-5355.