Sport fishing will close for Pasagshak River sockeye on Friday

Sport sockeye fishing will close on the Pasagshak River for the rest of the year starting on July 14. Subsistence sockeye harvest will also be closed in the Pasagshak Bay area. Biologists for the Alaska Department Fish and Game no longer expect the run there to make its escapement goal. 

An underwater photo of sockeye spawners, July 18, 2023. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Salmon escapement is down across Kodiak Island from last year in nearly every river. The only exception is the Karluk River, but that area is still behind historic averages for this time of year.

James Jackson is Fish and Game’s area management biologist for Kodiak salmon. He said early sockeye runs are struggling because of poor spawning conditions. 

“Other than this year, we’ve been having some really hot and dry summers and it’s kind of hard to spawn in a creek that’s dry,” Jackson said. 

Jackson said this year’s wet summer could be just what the early run sockeye needs, but fishers won’t see returns from this year’s spawners until 2028. Late run sockeye tend to spawn more on lakes and have been less affected.

Schools of sockeye jumping out of the water and splashing around, August 4, 2022. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Other species of salmon, however, have a large forecast for the region. The first opener for pinks just ended – Jackson said that should give some relief for Kodiak fishers. 

“We’re rotating into the pink salmon fishery, which has a really large forecast and right now it looks like we’re catching what we should be catching for a very large forecast,” he said. “The chum hatchery up at Katoi is above forecast and doing well, which is great because it gives fishermen a place to go catch some fish during the closures.” 

Jackson said late runs and fall fishing is Kodiak’s “bread and butter.”

There’s currently about 100 seiners fishing around Kodiak Island right now, but those numbers will likely go up when the Bristol Bay sockeye season ends next month.

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