Summer Season Limits Reduced on Popular Sportsfishing Rivers

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karluk_river_weir.jpg

The weir is operated by two to four ADF&G Commercial Fisheries Division employees from mid-May to late September. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Jennifer Canfield/KMXT

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has reduced the limits for king salmon on the Karluk and Ayakulik rivers. Fishermen will be allowed one king salmon longer than 20 inches on the Ayakulik River before July 25th.As for the Karluk River, it’s catch-and-release only and no bait allowed.

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karluk_river_weir.jpg

The weir is operated by two to four ADF&G Commercial Fisheries Division employees from mid-May to late September. Photo courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Jennifer Canfield/KMXT

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has reduced the limits for king salmon on the Karluk and Ayakulik rivers. Fishermen will be allowed one king salmon longer than 20 inches on the Ayakulik River before July 25th.As for the Karluk River, it’s catch-and-release only and no bait allowed.

Fish and Game biologist Donn Tracy says it’s the second year in a row that the department has decided to make the pre-season call.

"Mostly the reason that we get these announcements out early is to give anglers a heads up and that hopefully allows them a chance if they so desire to adjust their plans or at least adjust their expectations of what kind of experience their going to have during the fishery."

The Karluk has been in decline since 2001 and the Ayakulik since 2006. Tracy says that while they aren’t sure what is causing the decline, some biologists suspect it might be cyclical.

"It could be a cycle, a natural cycle of fluctuating abundance. Chinook salmon stocks have declined all across the north pacific have declined in recent years in varying degrees. Some have been as dramatic and precipitous as the Karluk River has if you look back at the ten year history of that run. Others have had declines followed by abundance levels near long term averages or what would be considered normal. So it’s been variable but across the north pacific all the way from California up to and including Alaska Chinook salmon stocks have declined generally over the same time period so it’s not been a local trend by any means, it’s been more of a regional and coastal phenomenon."

Tracy adds that as the Karluk was declining, the Ayakulik had two of its best years.

"Interestingly enough while the Karluk had already began that downward trend in the early part of the last decade we actually had, in terms of weir counts, we had the largest runs on record for the Ayakulik. In 2003 and 2004 we had the highest weir counts, individual year weir counts for Ayakulik king salmon that we’ve had since those fish were counted using a weir dating back to 1970. And so it was a real, kind of an interesting contrast between the Karluk and the Ayakulik."

Tracy says the department will monitor escapement and if necessary make adjustments to the limit during the season.

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