Area Sport Fishing Reports
North Gulf Coast \ Resurrection Bay
March through April Season
Don't forget: your fishing license expired Dec. 31! A sport fishing license makes a great gift -- lasts all year. (Neither the ADF&G Permanent ID license nor the ADF&G Disabled Veteran's license expire.)
The sport fishing regulations are good through April 15 of the new year. Look for new booklets around the end of March or early April.
Halibut fishing will likely be very slow until mid-May. Most of the larger fish will still be far offshore.
"Winter" kings may be caught throughout the North Gulf Coast area, and in many nearshore salt waters of Alaska. Also called "feeder" kings, they are cruising the ocean, fattening up before returning to their home stream to spawn. Try using downriggers at least 60 feet down, especially near schools of baitfish.
Hatchery-released king salmon start returning to Resurrection Bay in April, with first catches coming from the Rugged Island/Fox Island area. These king salmon are returning to two release sites, Lowell Creek and the Seward Lagoon outflow. Lucky beach anglers start to catch a few kings at these two locations in early May.
In the marine waters inside Resurrection Bay, from May 1 through August 31, the daily limit for king salmon is two, any size. During the rest of the year inside this area, and in the rest of the North Gulf Coast marine waters, the daily bag and possession limit for king salmon is one fish. A king salmon stamp IS required before fishing for kings (unless you have the ADF&G Permanent ID Card or the ADF&G Disabled Veteran's Card, or you are under 16 years old).
Anglers trolling in Resurrection Bay also have a slight chance of picking up a chum salmon or red (sockeye) salmon.
Remember that almost all Resurrection Bay fresh waters are closed year-round to salmon fishing. Fresh waters are separated from salt waters at a line drawn from bank to bank across the creek/stream mouth at mean low tide, or at a point marked by ADF&G.
Resurrection Bay is a “Terminal Harvest Area” for silver salmon, and bag limits are more liberal. Please consult the regulation booklet.
Other Saltwater Fishing Opportunities
Lingcod fishing in Resurrection Bay, north of a line between Cape Resurrection and Aialik Cape, is closed year-round, and lingcod fishing in all other waters does not open until July 1. All lingcod incidentally caught must be landed only by hand or with a landing net, and released immediately.
Anglers leaving from Seward should review the rockfish regulations before heading out. The latitude of Cape Puget is the dividing line between two areas that have different rockfish regulations: 1) Prince William Sound, and 2) The North Gulf Coast (which includes Resurrection Bay).
In Prince William Sound, anglers must keep the first two non-pelagic rockfish they catch. Daily limits for rockfish, including non-pelagic rockfish are also different in the two areas.
Non-pelagic rockfish - such as "red snapper" - need this additional protection because they rarely survive the change in pressure as they are brought to the surface. Rockfish are extremely long-lived fish, and are slow to reach sexual maturity. Overharvest would quickly reduce the number of mature fish available to spawn. Anglers targeting rockfish are encouraged to fish for black or dusky rockfish in waters less than 10 fathoms (60 feet) so that fish that are released have a fair chance at survival. Also, halibut anglers are strongly encouraged to fish with a single large hook (size 16 or larger) and avoid rocky areas to minimize their unintentional rockfish catch. There's a handy rockfish ID chart posted on the web, and also printed in our regulation booklet.
Bag limits "carry over" between areas, and daily limits apply per day, NOT PER AREA. For example, if you keep 2 red snapper (non-pelagic rockfish) east of Cape Puget, then travel west of Cape Puget and stop to fish, you are over your daily limit, because west of Cape Puget the daily limit for non-pelagic rockfish is 1. You may pass through an area on your way back to port, but check the limits if you're thinking about stopping to fish.
Sharks are occasionally taken in Resurrection Bay fisheries. The daily bag limit for sharks is one fish of any species, and the annual limit is two sharks of any species. This includes spiny dogfish as well as salmon and sleeper sharks. Sleeper sharks are generally considered inedible and should be released. All harvested sharks must be recorded immediately upon capture on the back of your license or on your Harvest Record Card.
Salmon sharks have a high urea content, and are inedible unless handled properly. Bleed your shark immediately upon capture by cutting the underside of the tail, and let the bleeding continue until the heart stops. Gutting the fish with a single cut from the anus to the gills can enhance the quality of the meat.
Herring are caught in late April/early May by anglers fishing a herring rig (15 or fewer small, unbaited hooks on a single line) in the Seward Small Boat Harbor. Herring are used as both a food fish and a baitfish. There is no bag limit.
Hooligan (eulachon/smelt) are caught while returning to spawn in the Resurrection River. There's no limit on hooligan.
If you're an Alaska resident, you can use a dip net or a small gill net to take hooligan and herring. Check the regulation booklet for net seasons and size limits.
North Gulf Coast is closed to all crabbing year-round, due to low population levels. A section of the North Gulf Coast, from Aialik Cape to Gore Point, is open to shrimping from April 15 through September 15. A free permit is required, and this shrimp fishery is open only to Alaska residents. Please see the Southcentral Alaska shellfish regulations for more information.
Fresh Water Fishing Opportunities
With one exception, all fresh waters draining into Resurrection Bay are closed to salmon fishing year-round. The one exception is a portion of the Resurrection River, which is open August 1 through December 31 for salmon fishing. Consult your regulation booklet before you fish these waters.
Most Resurrection Bay freshwater lakes and streams are open year round to Dolly Varden, rainbow trout, lake trout, and Arctic grayling sport fishing. There are several lakes and streams in the Seward area accessible by road or trail that support resident fish populations. A free handout outlining sport fishing opportunities in the Seward area is available at your local ADF&G office and on the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Brochures page.