Angler restrictions issued over king concerns in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — State officials have issued a slew of angler restrictions to address concerns about king salmon after recent runs have been below-average and expectations are the same for this year.

The restrictions will be in effect when the king season opens May 1 on the Kenai Peninsula and two weeks later in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game restrictions include a ban on bait, treble hooks and other multiple hooks on the Deshka River. There also will be a two-fish total limit for kings from the Little Su and Susitna River drainage. That is half the number allowed last year.

On four days each week, kings won’t be allowed to be harvested from the Little Su, officials said. Anglers will be allowed to keep kings on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Other days are catch-and-release.

There’s also a prohibition on keeping king salmon from Parks Highway streams in Unit 2, except from the Deshka, upper Susitna, Talkeetna, Talachulitna and Chulitna rivers.

The weak runs last year results in the mid-season closure of some fisheries. Fish and Game Biologist Sam Ivey says this year’s restrictions are an attempt to avoid that.

“This season we’re trying to get a full season, so we’re going into it in consideration of what happened in 2012,” he said.

An average of 25,000 kings were taken from the Little Su and Susitna River drainage each year from 2003 to 2007.

“This year we’re looking at 5,000,” he said. “The reduction we had last year wasn’t enough for the run we had. We needed to make more of a reduction this year.”

Joe Wright, president of the Deshka Landing Outdoor Association, support Fish and Game’s conservative approach because the number of kings has been diminishing for years.

“I want the fishery to be there down the road for my grandkids,” Wright said. “My kids got to fish on the Deshka with their grandfather, and I want to see that.”

Wright only wishes the department had acted sooner than Thursday for people who have been planning their fishing trips to Alaska.

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