KYUK AM

Hunting & Fishing

Stories related to subsistence/commercial/sport: hunting, fishing, gathering activities.

Gillnet
Shane Iverson / KYUK

The state-sanctioned 4-inch gillnet fishing opening on the Kuskokwim River will proceed as scheduled today, and so will the one next week.

Tuesday saw back-to-back meetings that could have blocked these openings, but each ended with the same result: management of the Kuskokwim will proceed as planned. The state will continue to manage the entire Kuskokwim River until the federal government takes control of the federal waters of the lower portion on June 12.


Shane Iverson / KYUK

The number of king salmon predicted to return to the Kuskokwim River this year has taken a dramatic drop. Two tribal groups and one private citizen don’t think the state is doing enough to conserve the kings, and they’ve each submitted paperwork requesting that federal managers immediately take over the lower river to restrict fishing.


Bethel smells like fried smelt. The small fish started swimming past the town this week during their annual run up the Kuskokwim River. Hundreds of people flocked to the seawall with dip nets to fill their buckets and get a taste of fresh fish. KYUK joined them at the river front.


Gillnet closures will begin rolling up the Kuskokwim River in individual sections beginning 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 25, 2018.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Over the coming weeks, a series of gillnet fishing closures, as well as limited openings, will hit the Kuskokwim River as king salmon begin moving upstream.


A sample permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for harvesting king salmon in the upper Kuskokwim River during 2018 closures.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

There’s a new fishing permit on the Kuskokwim River that, for the first time, will allow fishermen to harvest king salmon in the upper Kuskokwim during closures.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will manage the federal waters of the lower Kuskokwim River during the king salmon run of 2018.
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge

The village of Akiak’s proposal to move federal management of the lower Kuskokwim River to earlier in the season failed to get the nod from the Federal Subsistence Board on Wednesday. With even fewer kings expected up the river this summer, the Board has assured that co-management on the lower Kuskokwim will proceed much as it has in prior years and turned down Akiak’s plan to start federal management in May. 

The Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission met for their annual meeting in Bethel on May 7 and 8, 2018.
Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission

On the Kuskokwim River, it’s not an easy decision to travel during breakup. There are chores to be done to prepare for summer, and flooding is a constant risk that keeps people close to their homes, standing guard. But on Monday and Tuesday, a group traveled to Bethel from nearly every village along the river to discuss how to protect the fish that swim by.


With king salmon runs declining on the Kuskokwim River, at least one village has expressed interest in developing a hatchery. But without a government-recognized plan, the Kuskokwim can’t develop such a resource. A group is gathering to change that and has begun the long process of creating what’s called a "salmon production plan."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will manage the federal waters of the lower Kuskokwim River during the king salmon run of 2018.
Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge

Who will manage the Lower Kuskokwim subsistence fishery this summer and how they will do it will be decided in the middle of this month.


This year, as in previous years, the Kuskokwim River drainage will close to sport fishing for king salmon. The earlier closures were prompted by low king numbers. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game predicts another low return of king salmon along the river and is issuing regulations to conserve the species.

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