Fishing

The Kuskokwim Subsistence Salmon Panel first met in Bethel in January. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The Kuskokwim Subsistence Salmon Panel held its first meeting in Bethel in January. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

A state Board of Fisheries Panel is meeting in Bethel this week for guidance on the future of the Kuskokwim king salmon subsistence fishery.

The Kuskokwim Subsistence Salmon Panel meets Monday and Tuesday at the Cultural center. They first met in January and sent three board of fish members on the river this summer to better understand the dynamics of the fishery, which has seen unprecedented restrictions in recent years and several years of weak runs. Read more →

Commercial fishing takes place Friday on the Kuskokwim. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Commercial fishing takes place Friday on the Kuskokwim. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

The next commercial fishing on the Kuskokwim River takes place Friday.

The waters from 15 miles below the Johnson River to Eek Island are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From Bethel down to the marker located 15 miles below the Johnson, fishing takes place from noon to 6 p.m.
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Commercial fishing takes place Monday, August 17, 2015. File Photo by Mike Martz / KYUK.

Commercial fishing takes place Monday, August 17, 2015. File Photo by Mike Martz / KYUK.

The summer’s second commercial fishing opening on the Kuskokwim River takes place Monday.

The waters from 15 miles below the Johnson River to Eek Island are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From Bethel down to the marker located 15 miles below the Johnson fishing takes place from noon to 6 p.m.
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Marie Andrew was busy this July at her Napaskiak fish camp. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Marie Andrew was busy this July at her Napaskiak fish camp. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Subsistence fishing is open indefinitely on the Kuskokwim River. But that hasn’t been the norm this summer, as the river underwent two management regimes —state and federal—and strict closures for two species. Lower river fishermen are adjusting to the new reality of Kuskokwim subsistence—where conservative management is now the status quo.

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Chum salmon numbers are well below average. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Chum salmon numbers are well below average. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

The Kuskokwim River is experiencing a poor chum salmon run, according to state managers, and with it, a restrictive fishing schedule.
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There will be a brief salmon  fishing period July 8th. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

There will be a brief salmon fishing period July 8th. Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Another subsistence fishing opener takes place Wednesday on the Kuskokwim River. 50 fathom, 6-inch nets are allowed. The timing varies on different parts of the river.

The opening comes as fishermen watch what looks like a very weak chum salmon run. Aaron Poetter is the state management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for the Kuskokwim area. Read more →

An fish rack in Bethel sits empty this month. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

A fish rack in Bethel sits empty this month. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

Fishermen are looking forward to the next driftnet opening on the Kuskokwim River. Federal staff are waiting for the Bethel Test Fishery to show more chum and red salmon compared to kings before finalizing the next opening. Read more →

Gillnet fishing is closed below Tuluksak. Map from USFWS.

Gillnet fishing is closed below Tuluksak. Map from USFWS.

There will be no weekend set net fishing below Tuluksak this weekend after managers shut down the fishery to protect king salmon. A scheduled 72 hour opener is expected to go ahead from Tuluksak up to the refuge boundary at Aniak as planned.

Managers say that the hundreds of set nets pose a risk to this year’s and future king salmon runs. ONC counted a large portion of them set near the choke point area below Bethel, known for catching king salmon.
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An fish rack in Bethel sits empty this month. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

A fish rack in Bethel sits empty this month. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

For the first time ever, the state is opening a brief elder’s fishery for king salmon on the middle and upper Kuskokwim. The fishery runs Saturday, June 20th, from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

The fishery is open to people age sixty and over. They can have specific family members help, but the elder must be present when they are fishing.
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Fresh Kuskokwim salmon. File photo by KYUK.

Fresh Kuskokwim salmon. File photo by KYUK.

King salmon are beginning to show up on the Kuskokwim River. All eyes are on the few kings that are appearing in the Bethel Test Fishery and in subsistence fishermen’s nets during limited 4-inch openings. At a Wednesday work session of the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group, members prepared for more restrictions as the run picks up and a limited directed harvest.

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