First 4-Hour 6″ Gillnet Opening on Lower Kuskokwim Friday

by Ben Matheson on June 18, 2014

Bethel Test fish bound for the Bethel Senior Center. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Bethel Test fish bound for the Bethel Senior Center. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Federal officials have announced the first openings for salmon fishing on the lower river. On Friday, June 20th, there will be a four-hour opening with 6” mesh limited to 50-fathoms, The opening runs from the mouth of the Johnson River downstream to the southern tip of Eek Island.

Acting Refuge Manager Brian McCaffery says his team consulted with villages and timed the opener to overlap the evening high tide from 4 PM to 8 PM.

And below Eek Island beginning at 4 PM on Friday, the use of 6”, 50-fathom length gill nets will be allowed downstream to the refuge border. McCaffery says 6″ gear will be allowed in those waters downstream of Eek Island for the duration of the season.

Lower Yukon Delta Refuge Boundary. Map from USFWS.

Lower Yukon Delta Refuge Boundary. Map from USFWS.

The first salmon closures went into effect on May 20th. Managers are expected to have short openings move upriver in approximately three day intervals, although they have not announced anything beyond the downriver openings.

Fishers have been limited to whitefish nets since late May, and the waters recently opened to dipnet fishing. The severe restrictions on gillnets were intended to help bring about 85,000 king salmon to spawning grounds. 2013 showed the weakest king salmon run on record.

Federal managers plan to issue more information Thursday. The information will be posted to KYUK.org.

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