Area Sport Fishing Reports
August 3, 2021
* Just a reminder to all anglers, please do your part to help slow the spread of Covid-19 by practicing social distancing while sport and personal use fishing as well as when shopping for fishing supplies from your local store, and by wearing a face covering when social distancing is not possible.
This report is intended for both the Northwest and the North Slope Management Areas.
Rivers and lakes are open throughout the Northwest and North Slope Management Areas (NW/NSMA). Most rivers are running high due to recent rains and water clarity is poor in most areas. Fishing for Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden had been outstanding in Norton Sound streams as these fish targeted salmon fry and invertebrates. Small spinners and jigs will catch both species, and Arctic grayling can be caught on topwater flies as well when the water drops. Fishing for northern pike should be good in the Pilgrim-Kuzitrin River complex, and in off-channel habitats of the larger Noatak, Kobuk, and Selawik Rivers. Big spoons and soft baits work well, as do large topwater lures and flies. Fishing for Arctic grayling in North Slope streams should be good in upstream summer feeding areas, particularly in the Colville River drainage. Fishing for lake trout and Arctic char in North Slope lakes can be slow but success can be had at deeper lakes. Remember that these populations are generally slow-growing and can support only minimal harvests. Fishing for lake trout in lakes extending 5 miles on either side of the Dalton Highway is catch-and-release only.
Salmon counts had begun to pick up in the NW/NSMA streams before heavy rains disabled most enumeration projects. Runs of the king, pink, and chum salmon appear to be running later than average. Installation of escapement projects had been slowed for several days due to high water, and in most places, king and chum salmon have been observed above the project sites before operation. However, evidence from the subsistence, commercial, and sport fisheries suggests runs are healthy and no restrictions are anticipated. Coho salmon have begun to arrive in Norton Sound streams. These runs will peak in mid-August and continue through September. Sheefish have begun their upstream migration to the spawning grounds in the Kobuk and Selawik Rivers, and on the Kobuk River fish have been caught near the village of Kobuk. Similarly, spawning Dolly Varden has begun upstream migration in Northwestern and North Slope rivers and will continue sporadically through August. Reports from the Nimiuktuk, Kelly, and Kugururok Rivers, all tributaries of the Noatak River, indicate fish are moving upstream and several 3–8-pound fish have been caught. The Noatak and Wulik Rivers are the most popular spots for large Dolly Varden, with fish over 12 pounds possible in both drainages.
Please review the Emergency Orders and Advisory Announcements below in their entirety before heading out on your next fishing trip:
For More Information
Call the Northwest and North Slope Area Management Biologist at (907) 459-7268.
Don't forget to bring your 2021 sport fishing license. Help maximize social distancing by purchasing your sport fishing license at the ADF&G Online Store and print it off from the comfort of your home. Also, be sure to review Emergency Orders and the 2021 Northern Sport Fishing Regulations Summary Booklet for the area you are fishing in before you head out.
Because fish typically grow and reproduce more slowly at high latitudes and elevations, please use proper techniques when engaging in catch-and-release in order to ensure the survival of the released fish such as:
- Use lures with a single hook and crimp down the barb. Do not use bait.
- Land the fish with a soft net and keep the fish in the water when removing the hook.
- To release the fish, hold it gently facing into the current or in water without current gently cradle the fish and move it slowly back and forth until it swims away under its own power.