I plan to fish a scouting trip for chum, coho, and possibly sockeye salmon tomorrow. Check back in the evening if you would like to know how I do. Below is another item of interst:
TIME TO RE-OPEN DESHKA RIVER KING SALMON FIHSERY
I received a call Monday July 2, 2012 from Anchorage resident, Steve Stokke, who had been tracking king salmon escapement through the Alaska Department of FIsh and Game’s (ADF&G) Deshka River Weir. Like myself, and others have noticed, king salmon passage has increased dramatically since the Department restricted the Deshka River sport fishery to single hook artificial lures on June 20, and then entirely closed all Deshka RIver king salmon fishing on June 25, 2012. Deshka River weir counts can be viewed by visiting the following page on the ADF&G website: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/sf/FishCounts
In the 13 days from June 20 through July 2, 2012 king salmon passage through Deshka River Weir has averaged over 500 fish per day. If king salmon keep passing the weir at only 400 fish per day for the next two days, the Department weir-measured king salmon escapement will pass into the ADF&G established and Alaska Board of FIsheries adopted Deshka RIver king salmon spawning escapement goal range of 13,000 – 27,000 fish, sometime Wednesday, July 4. Even a two-day projection of reaching the escapement goal range should trigger a re-opening of affected sport and commercial salmon fisheries, however, when Steve Stokke talked with ADF&G Area Sport Fisheries Management Biologist, Sam Ivey, he was told that the Department would likely keep the sport fishery closed even if the 13,000 fish threshold was surpassed, before the regularly scheduled end of the king salmon sport fishing season on July 13. I talked with Sam Ivey, on July 3, and heard the same message.
A Cautious Approach
After the Department issued several emergency orders earlier this year, restricting king salmon sport fisheries throughout Alaska in efforts to achieve king salmon spawning escapement goals, Steve and I can both appreciate, and understand, if ADF&G were to delay opening the Deshka River king salmon fishery until the lower end of the king salmon escapement goal range passed the weir. In addition, we could appreciate the wisdom of ADF&G only re-opening the king salmon fishery below the weir, in order to protect king salmon escapement above the weir. What is unacceptable to us, is for ADF&G to, unpredictably, keep the fishery closed, or not allow bait back into a re-opened fishery once the goal range has been attained. WIthout additional circumstances, such management would be inconsistent with management throughout the State of Alaska, and to us seems to fly in the face of the constitutional mandate to manage for maximum benefit from the resource.
Managing for Maximum Benefit
One only has to look as far as the most famous sport fishery in the State to see an obvious example of how the Department is managing differently. On the Kenai River, even though the early-run king salmon escapement goal has not been attained, ADF&G put some safeguards in place, and re-opened the king salmon sport fishery on July 1. If anything, the biological data from the Deshka River is much better information than data collected by the Department on the Kenai River. That is because Deshka River escapement data is collected through use of a weir, manned by Department staff 24 hours per day. Because of the staffing requirement, weir data is expensive to collect, and only available for specific important fisheries, however, weir data is considered by many to be the very best available — the gold standard if you will — of fisheries spawning escapement data.
Using Science and the Public Process
The State has gone to great expense to operate a salmon counting weir on the Deshka River. It took a public lobbying effort to get and maintain operation of the Deshka River weir, and Deshka River produces the largest number of early-run king salmon in the entire Upper Cook Inlet Area, where most of the state’s human population resides. ADF&G’s king salmon spawning escapement goal for Deshka River was developed from many years of weir data, using the Department’s best available science, and adopted into use through a public process by the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Why should ADF&G forego using their own publicly adopted escapement goal range, in managing the Deshka River king salmon fishery? Why should ADF&G continue to keep the public in the dark as to how this fishery, with the best available scientific information, will be managed?
Early in the 2012 season there was a concern that a large part of the Deshka River king salmon escapement consisted of early returning male fish weighing 10 pounds or less. Without a healthy number of egg-carrying female king salmon, an escapement of thousands of males would be of little benefit. According to the last 3 discussions I’ve had with Ivey, however, Deshka River weir data collected throughout the season, is now showing an escapement of approximately 40% female king salmon during the 2012 season. While some escapement years may have a higher percentage of female king salmon, 40% females for a species that often returns high numbers of precocious males, seems like a reasonable number for a quality spawning escapement.
Bottom Line — Time for Action
It is time for ADF&G to use the best available data the Department has gone to great expense to collect, re-open the Deshka River king fishery at least up to the weir sanctuary area, and allow bait back into the fishery. King salmon escapement numbers will continue to climb higher into the escapement goal range — even with the re-establishment of a limited sport fishery. Re-opening Deshka River would likely present the best option for Mat-Su anglers to catch legal salmon in valley streams at least through July 13. It will likely take public opinion and legislator efforts to get the fishery re-opened, so Steve and I would appreciate all the help people are willing to give.
Contact the Palmer office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at 907-746-6300 to discuss this issue.
I did some scout fishing for salmon other than king salmon today with Ben Allen and his wife, Amber. We cast Flashtrap and Vibrax Spinners the entire trip and fished prime spots for catching chum, silver, and sockeye salmon, but all we caught was one rainbow trout and king salmon. All of the fish were immediately released.
I’ve noticed that commercial fishermen have been catching some chum salmon, silver salmon, and sockeye salmon in the Central District of Cook Inlet — so I’m thinking the early part of those salmon runs should be reaching the Mat-Su Valley before long, but on any year at this time in the season there are usually only a small number of those other salmon species present in Mat-Su Valley fresh waters. As mentioned and confirmed by our scout trip today — the best opportunity for anglers to catch legal salmon in the Mat-Su Valley through July 13 would be if the Department of FIsh and Game or the Alaska Board of FIsheries were to re-open the Deshka River to king salmon fishing with the use of bait for the remainder of the regularly scheduled season. Currently the Deshka River is on pace to meet the Deshka River king salmon spawning escapement goal range — although as far as I know it has NOT passed into the range with 13,000 passed the weir — yet.
I’ve written the Cora Campbell, Commissioner of FIsh and Game, Mat-Su Valley Legislators, and others requesting that Deshka River be re-opened for king salmon fishing — as is the normal practice when the escapement goal range is achieved.
In addition, I’ve sent an emergency petition to the Alaska Board of Fisheries requesting re-opening of the Deshka River to king salmon fishing below the weir with the use of bait when the 13,000 fish escapement threshold has been achieved.
I’m set to resume guiding salmon charters on Friday July 6 — check back that evening for an actual charter trip fishing report.
I guided a family of 5 and although they cast spinners and fished small plugs, all the fish they caught were king salmon. The group caught 5 king salmon — 4 on Flashtrap Spinners and 1 on a K-11 Kwikfish. It was a nice day on the water, and we also saw some mature bald eagles flying by at close range.
Although we did not catch any salmon other than king salmon, the first few pink salmon have been swimming past the Deshka River Weir. In addition, commercial fishermen in Cook Inlet continue to catch increasing numbers of sockeye, chum, and silver salmon, so some of these other species should be available in the rivers before long == perhaps other anglers may have already caught some. I’ll be guiding another group tomorrow, so check back later on Saturday if you would like to know how we do.
I guided 4 guests who only caught 6 king salmon and 1 jack king salmon. The group spent the whole trip casting # 5 pink and #5 silver / black Flashtrap Spinners. During the trip we also saw some bald eagles and a beaver.
Ben Allen and I guided 6 guests, who caught several king salmon, which were immediately released. We spent the entire trip casting spinners, and hoping for some of the smaller salmon which we could keep — but once again kings were the only salmon we managed to bring to the boat.
The number of king salmon through Deshka River Weir has now surpassed the lower end of the Deshka River king salmon spawning escapement goal of 13,000 fish, but the Department of FIsh and Game has no intention of re-opening the the fishery for the remaining days of the normal king salmon fishing season. I’ve submitted an emergency petition to the Alaska Board of FIsheries requesting the Deshka River be re-opened to king salmon fishing below the weir — but have not heard back from the Board, yet. There are only a few days left before the normal season closure after July 13, so if any additional directed fishing and harvest is allowed for king salmon on the Deshka River, it will likely be for only a few days — and before next weekend.
I guided a group of 2 people who caught 2 king salmon and a jack king salmon, all of which were immediately released. The fish were caught on a Flashtrap Spinner and K-11X Kwikfish. No other salmon species were even hooked. During the trip we saw moose, bald eagles, muskrats, hawks, and waterfowl. On the drive to the river I also saw more moose feeding along the road, and a red fox trotting down the road ahead of me.
FIRST COHO OF THE SEASON
I guided a group of 2 anglers, 1 of whom caught the first coho (silver) salmon of the season from my guide boat. The 2nd angler caught a small king salmon which was immediately released. In addition the 2nd angler also lost another coho salmon near the boat, and also briefly hooked but lost a salmon I had no chance to identify. All of the fish were hooked while casting with Flashtrap Spinners. #5 Silver / black was the pattern that hooked all of the salmon.
I also saw about 5 chum salmon in a hole another angler had just finished fishing, so it is good to see that some of the other species of salmon other than kings are starting to arrive.
I guided a family of 4 on a trip that only lasted 4 hours, and one of them caught a silver salmon, and also hooked and lost another silver salmon. Both fish were hooked on a #5 silver / black Flashtrap Spinner. We also saw some other salmon that looked to either be sockeye or chums rolling, but we did not even fish for them as we hurried to another spot to try for silvers.
I’m scheduled to guide another trip in the morning.
I guided one guest, who hooked but lost a single silver salmon while casting with a #5 Silver /Black Flashtrap Spinner. It was a wet trip this morning — with only a couple other boats on the part of the river we were fishing. On the trip we heard and saw a moose that waded across the river upstream from one to the sports where we were fishing. We also saw the usual bald eagles.
I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests who wanted to catch numbers of salmon. 3 guests harvested a limit of chum salmon, and 1 guest harvested 2 chum salmon. All of the fish were caught on K11X Kwikfish.
I will be guiding 2 trips on Saturday and 2 trips on Sunday, so fishing reports should start being more regular once again.
I guided a morning group of 4 guests who caught 2 silver salmon and 3 chum salmon. 1 silver salmon was caught while casting with a #5 Silver/ Black Flashtrap Spinner, and the remaining silver salmon and 3 chum salmon were caught while back trolling with K-11X Kwikfish. During the morning trip the group saw 2 moose along the river.
I guided an afternoon group of 3 guests who caught 6 chum salmon, 1 king salmon, and 1 rainbow trout. 4 chum salmon and the rainbow trout were caught casting with #4 and #5 Flashtrap Spinners. Silver / Black and Orange blade were the two hot patterns. 2 chum salmon and the king salmon (which was immediately released) were caught while back trolling with K-11X Kwikfish.
I guided a group of 3 guests, who caught about 30 chum salmon (all of which were released and 2 silver salmon ( which were kept. The fish were caught on K-11x, K-13X, and K-14 Kwikfish. Water was up and colored, but dropping. Like usual during the trip we saw a bald eagle flying low over out boat. This trip was mostly nonstop action.
I’ll be guiding again tomorrow, and should have a report in the evening. Give us a call at (907) 746-2199 if you would like to book a trip or check on availability.
I guided a group of 4 guests who caught 2 silver salmon and 10 chum salmon. 4 chum salmon and 1 silver salmon were caught on a #4 Orange Flashtrap Spinner. 3 chum salmon were caught on #5 Silver /black Flashtrap Spinners. 3 chum salmon and 1 silver salmon were caught on K13X Kwikfish. The group also a moose trotting in the water beside our boat as we rounded a corner.
I’ll be guiding and reporting again tomorrow.
I guided a group of 3 guests who caught 5 silver salmon and 2 chum salmon. The silver salmon were all caught while casting with #5 Flashtrap Spinners. 2 chum salmon were caught back trollling with kwikfish.
I guided a group of 3 people who caught 1 silver salmon and 4 chum salmon. 1 silver salmon and 2 chum salmon were caught back trollling K11X Kwikfish. The 2 other chum salmon were caught casting with #5 Silver /Black Flashtrap Spinners. River was considerably more crowded with anglers this morning. On the way to the river I saw three moose along the road — one of which ran in front of my truck and was clipped a bit. The moose ran off — and my truck had a bit of paint chipped off the bumper — hopefully neither the moose or the truck suffered much damage.
I guided a group of 4 guests who caught 1 silver salmon, 4 chum salmon, and 2 pink salmon. The silver salmon was caught casting a #5 Silver / Black Flashtrap Spinner. 4 chum salmon and 2 pink salmon were caught while back trolling small Kwikfish. On the drive to the boat launch before the trip I saw 2 moose, 1 porcupine, and 1 beaver. During the trip we saw bald eagles and a some ducks along the river.
I guided a morning group of 4 guests most interested in catching as many salmon as possible. The group caught silver, chum, and pink salmon on Flathtrap and Vibrax Spinners. One individual caught all 3 of the silver salmon — keeping one and releasing the other two.
I guided an afternoon group of 5 guests and we specifically went fishing for silver salmon. Since I did not write this report right away, my memory is a bit fuzzy as to what the group kept. I’m thinking perhaps 2 silver salmon and a chum salmon. The group also released a few chum and pink salmon which were caught on Flashtrap spinners.
I guided a morning group of 3 guests who wanted to catch as many salmon as possible. Each person kept a 3 fish limit of salmon, with one guest keeping a silver salmon, and the remainder to the kept fish being chum salmon. In addition the group also released several pink salmon, a few chum salmon, and 1 silver salmon. All of the fish were caught on Flashtrap and Vibrax Spinners.
I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests, who caught 5 silver salmon, some chum salmon, and some pink salmon on Flashtrap Spinners.
I guided a mid day group of 4 guests who caught 1 silver salmon and 4 chum salmon while back trolling with small kwikfish. All fish were caught in the first hole we fished, and after a fishing two additional holes without catching a fish they decide to call it a day so we quit early.
I guided a morning group of 4 guests who caught 4 silver salmon. and a bunch of chum salmon and pink salmon while casting with #4 and #5 Flashtrap Spinners.
I guided an afternoon group of 4 guests who also caught 4 silver salmon, some chum salmon, and pink salmon while casting with Flashtrap Spinners. We started this trip off targeting as many salmon as possible (chums and pinks) and finished it up by focusing on silver salmon.