King salmon sportfishing restrictions same as recent years

Commercial trollers had a productive winter catching kings along the outside waters of Southeast, but area runs are still weak and sportfishing restrictions around Wrangell this summer are similar to recent years.

District 8 in front of the Stikine River and the waters closest to town will be closed to king fishing through July 14. “The retention of king salmon is prohibited, any king salmon caught must be released immediately,” according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

District 6 and most of District 7, encompassing the Back Channel, the waters west of Wrangell Island and around Etolin and Zarembo islands, will be closed to sportfishing for kings through June 14. District 10 north of Petersburg also is closed to June 14.

For areas open to taking kings, Alaska residents are limited to a possession limit of two kings, at least 28 inches in length, according to a March 28 announcement by the Department of Fish and Game.

The non-resident bag and possession limit is one king, with a separate annual harvest limit.

This year’s restrictions are similar to recent years, except for one difference, said Jeff Rice, area sportfish biologist for the Petersburg-Wrangell area. That difference is a closure of fresh water fishing for kings at the Blind Slough hatchery terminal harvest area.

The commercial fishery, managed separately from sportfishing, had a good winter harvest in Southeast. Trollers landed 43,151 kings mid-October through March, almost three times the number of the previous winter, according to the state’s catch report as of March 29.

The previous year’s winter troll king harvest was 16,551, about equal to the five-year average of 15,706, but down from the 10-year average of 22,537, according to Fish and Game records.

About 80% of this past winter’s troll catch came from District 13, which stretches along the outside waters in the northern half of Southeast, offshore Sitka.

The winter troll catch is a positive sign for ocean survival rates, Rice said.

Though the kings were plentiful this winter, they were smaller. The state reports the average troll-caught king weighed 9.8 pounds, down from the five-year average of 10.9 pounds and 10-year average of 11 pounds.


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