sockeye

Fishers line up to unload their fish at tender, Kelly-Mae near Napaskiak on Friday, July 18th during a six-hour commercial opening for chum salmon. - Photo by Sophie Evan

Fishers line up to unload their fish at tender, Kelly-Mae near Napaskiak on Friday, July 18th during a six-hour commercial opening for chum salmon. – Photo by Sophie Evan

Kuskokwim area commercial salmon fishermen earned 2.2 million dollars in 2014. A preliminary report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game released Friday shows the total income slightly below last year’s total, but still 27-percent above the 10-year average.
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ADF&GCommercial salmon fishing in the Quinhagak and Goodnews Bay districts is set for Monday. A 12-hour opener begins at 9 a.m. in both districts.
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FishThe Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group wants the state to end to all commercial openings for the remainder of the summer. The say despite unmet subsistence needs the state has allowed commercial salmon openings. Some upriver fishermen are fed up with the state, and want the Federal Subsistence Board to manage the river from here on out.

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Research Biologist Kevin Shaberg (second from right) explains the Bethel Test Fishery's relationship with run size and timing. Photo by Ben Matheson  / KYUK.

Research Biologist Kevin Shaberg (second from right) explains the Bethel Test Fishery’s relationship with run size and timing. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The entire Kuskokwim River is open to six-inch gillnets and managers are shifting focus from king salmon to other species, including a potential commercial chum salmon opening.

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Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

Photo by Shane Iverson / KYUK.

The first larger mesh opening for the highest section of the Kuskokwim River opens Thursday, July 3rd. Fishers from the Holitna river to the Kuskowkwim headwaters can use 6-inch 50-fathom nets indefinitely to target chum and sockeye salmon. Subsistence fishermen on that highest stretch can also fish for king salmon with hook and line gear with a daily bag limit of three beginning Thursday.

The Department of Fish and Game is also opening up the river from Chuathbalu to the Holitna river to 6-inch gear Thursday.

Managers have been rolling openings up the Kuskokwim river in the latter part of June and into July. Biologists expect to reach to lower end of the escapement goal of 65-thousand king salmon if they proceed as planned.

Bethel Test Fishery early season catch. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Bethel Test Fishery early season catch. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The first four hour driftnet opening from the Johnson River to Tuluksak will be Tuesday morning from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fishers targeting chum and red salmon will be limited to 6 inch mesh, no longer than 25 fathoms. If fishermen use a longer net, the excess webbing must be tied up or in a bag secured in the boat.

And from the Johnson River to the southern tip of Eek Island, there will be an eight hour period beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday and lasting until 4:00 p.m. Fishermen can use 50 fathom nets of 6 inch mesh or less.

The full release is available here.

Managers say Friday evening’s 4 hour opener on the lower river brought out approximately 198 boats. They estimate that of 11,000 salmon caught, about 670 were king salmon. With an early Chinook run, they expect the majority of kings to have moved past Bethel by sometime this week.