Sportfishing for king salmon in the Monashka Creek and the waters of Monashka Bay outside the creek mouth closed on Saturday because there has so far been no fish returning to the system.
According to Fish and Game’s Donn Tracy, the return to Monashka Creek is vital for the hatchery-reared king salmon enhancement project.
The department usually collects 50 female and 50 male king salmon from the creek to be used in the project. Traditionally, at least half the needed broodstock has arrived by June 25th, but so far, Tracy says none have returned:
If the run doesn’t pick up, Tracy says the department will go to one of the other road-system rivers – either the Olds or American – the hatchery project supports to try and collect the needed broodstock:
Failing that, the department’s back up to plan B is to capture, rear and release coho salmon in lieu of kings for one year.
The closure that went into effect over the weekend prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release in the Monashka Creek drainage and the waters of Monashka Bay inside a line extending from Miller Point to Termination Point. Sportfishing for other species in the closed area is allowed, but only one unbaited, single hook artificial lure may be used.
Effective tomorrow, sport fishing for king salmon is closed in the entire Monashka Creek drainage and in the waters of Monashka Bay a line extending from Miller Point to Termination Point. That word today from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Sportsfish Division in Kodiak.
The Monashka Creek drainage supports an enhanced run of king salmon, and fish returning there are used by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as a brood source for hatchery-rearing chinook salmon.
The department’s annual broodstock goal is a minimum of 50 spawning female and 50 spawning male kings. Over the past decade, at least 50 percent of the goal had been met by June 25th, but as of Wednesday, no king salmon had yet returned.
This closure prohibits all sport fishing, including catch-and-release fishing, for king salmon. Kings may not be possessed or retained, and any caught incidentally while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.
In addition, only one unbaited, single hook artificial lure may be used in the waters of Monashka Creek which otherwise remain open to sport fishing.
Fishing opportunity may be restored by subsequent emergency order if king salmon returns to Monashka Creek indicate that brood source collection goals will be achieved.
Anglers along the Ayakulik and Karluk Rivers won’t be able to take home a prized king salmon for the foreseeable future. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Friday issued an emergency order closure for those rivers, which went into effect on Saturday.
A press release from fish and game said the closures come as biological escapement goals for those rivers are way below seasonal goals, and likely won’t be achieved.
The escapement goal for the Ayakulik is 4,000 to 7,000 fish, but as of June 17 only 350 fish had made it up to the weir. On the Karluk, escapement goals are 3,000 to 6,000 fish, but only 256 fish had made it to the weir by June 17.
As an added precaution to protect Chinook in those rivers, fish and game also prohibited bait use on those rivers. Only single-hook artificial lures are allowed in those areas.
Coming up this week, there is still herring quota available in Togiak Bay, the Southeast winter troll season set a record, and there could be more strife out on the Y-K Delta this year. We had help from KDLG’s Mike Mason in Dillingham, KCAW’s Robert Woolsey in Sitka, KYUK’s Ben Matheson in Bethel, and KTOO’s Casey Kelly in Juneau.
Coming up this week, it’s ComFish time in Kodiak, residents of the YK Delta react to the possibility of no king salmon fishing at all this summer, and another fishermen’s bar goes smoke free. We had help from KMXT’s Brianna Gibbs in Kodiak, KSTK’s Shady Grove Oliver in Wrangell, KYUK’s Charles Enoch in Bethel, KUCB’s Lauren Rosenthal in Unalaska, and KHNS’ Margaret Friedenauer in Haines.
As part of the State of Alaska’s effort to better track king salmon, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is requiring off-shore anglers to keep the head and tail on any kings they catch until they get back to Kodiak. Donn Tracy, the Kodiak Area Sportsfish Management Biologist, explains the emergency order to retain the head and tails of king salmon are to facilitate measuring the fishes’ length, obtain a scale sample, and to find a coded wire tag embedded in the heads of some of the kings when they were small. Those fish can be identified because their adipose fins have been clipped.
He said Fish and Game will have employees circulating through all of Kodiak’s public docks and out on the base, to meet sport anglers when they return.
Tracy says about 7,000 king salmon are caught by sport anglers in Kodiak Island waters, but he’s not expecting to get samples from all of them, but said 1,000 or more would be great.
He said the information collected will not be used for catch allocation – that Fish and Game is only interested in the genetic stock composition.
The emergency order prohibiting de-heading kings goes into effect on May 31st. Tracy added that the fish can be gutted and cleaned onboard before returning to port to help preserve their freshness.