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

Bethel Families Enjoy Rare Gillnet Fishing on the Kuskokwim

Jun 30, 2017
Hunter Dull pilots the Connie D.
KYUK/Teresa Cotsirilos

Last Saturday at 1 p.m., the Dull brothers careened down the Kuskokwim in the trusty Connie D., a gray boat named after their mother. Their parents bobbed ahead of us downstream, casting gillnets out of the Darth Vader - the family’s second boat. It was the first time the river had opened for gillnet fishing in two weeks, and the Dulls had 12 hours to catch as many Kings as their totes could carry. We watched the white buoys on the end of the brothers’ net and waited.


Salmon drying on a Kuskokwim fish rack.
Shane Iverson / KYUK Public Media

There’s a fishing opening Saturday, July 1 on the Kuskokwim River and then another one on Monday, July 3.

Salmon harvest in 2015.
Shane Iverson / KYUK Public Media

Today, managers will consider whether to open the Kuskokwim to gillnets or to keep the river closed. Faced with this year’s low king salmon run, Ken Stahlnecker with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that the decision isn’t easy or straightforward.

Salmon harvested during the 12-hour Kuskokwim gillnet opening on June 24, 2017.
Teresa Cotsirilos / KYUK Public Media

Thursday on Fish Talk, we talked about the process that the Kuskokwim co-managers think through when they consider opening the Kuskokwim during this season's low king salmon run. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission are co-managing the Kuskokwim from the river’s mouth to Aniak.


Fish from the Bethel Test Fishery bound for the Elder's Home in 2014.
Ben Matheson / KYUK Public Media

Around 2.2 million summer chum salmon are swimming up the Yukon River, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The state is opening various commercial harvest periods targeting the species beginning this weekend.

Salmon caught during the June 24, 2017 gillnet opening on the Kuskokwim.
Teresa Cotsirilos / KYUK Public Media

Anyone hoping to hear good news about the king salmon run on the Kuskokwim is going to be disappointed; the numbers are just not there. No decision on another opening is likely until Friday.


Katie Basile / KYUK

No time to fish? No problem. The green fish bin is back. Starting today, you can begin picking up fish harvested from the Bethel Test Fishery, operated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Salmon harvested during the 12-hour Kuskokwim gillnet opening on June 24, 2017.
Teresa Cotsirilos / KYUK Public Media

There were lots of salmon caught Saturday on the Kuskokwim River, but not many were kings.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Update 1:40 p.m. Tuesday, June 27: Information about the District 2 commercial openings have been updated with new information from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Nearly two million summer chum are swimming up the Yukon River, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. To give fishermen access to this strong run, the state is opening multiple commercial opportunities this week.

Salmon harvested during the 12-hour Kuskokwim gillnet opening on June 24, 2017.
Teresa Cotsirilos / KYUK Public Media

This weekend the taste of fresh fish filled the mouths of people who live along the Kuskokwim after the river’s first gillnet opening in two weeks. Fishery managers announced the 12-hour opening on Friday, but with king salmon running low this season, managers have concerns if the species will meet escapement. At Friday's meeting the decision to open the river didn’t come easy or without controversy.

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