From December 2013

Board of Fish Addresses King Sport Fishing

The state Board of Fish is meeting in Anchorage this week. Among the many items on the agenda are a variety of proposals for sport and commercial fishing in Lower Cook Inlet.

Listen:

:http://www.kdll.org/wp-content/uploads/131211.fish_.meeting.mp3|titles=131211.fish.meeting

A number of the proposals directed at different sport fisheries around the southern Kenai Peninsula were aimed at tightening up harvests. One proposal for the Anchor River limits the days open for king salmon sportfishing. It would reduce sportfishing opportunities on the Anchor from 20 to 15 days by closing on Wednesdays.

The Homer Fish and Game advisory committee submitted the proposal. The AC cited lower king returns the past few years as the main reason for reducing the number of fishing days. Prior to 2009, there was no king fishing on the Anchor on Wednesdays. Then numbers began trending up, and Fish and Game opened up fishing opportunities. But in 2012 and 2013, the fishery was closed for a number of days by emergency order, to ensure the escapement goal was met. Fish and Game Regional Management Coordinator Tom Vania says the situation on the Anchor River is indicative of what’s happening across South Central.

“We do believe that these are well below average returns that are happening at this time. As you know, a lot of our sport fisheries are structured to avoid emergency orders, whether they be liberalizing or whether they be restricting. We’re trying to establish those regulations that going to handle the vast majority of runs,” Vania told the Board.

Vania said the Anchor continues to meet its minimum escapement goal, but only by sacrificing harvest opportunities. He called shutting down Wednesday fishing low-hanging fruit, as that tends to be one of the least busy days of a given week. The Board did not enact the proposal, though Wednesdays will likely remain the first option for Managers if they have to consider slowing the fishery down.

Moving north to the Ninilchik River, Proposal 61 asked for a reduction in the bag limit for kings by half, down to one per day. This, too, was submitted by the Homer AC. Board member Sue Jeffrey supported the move, as would the rest of the Board, saying it would bring the Ninilchik in line with other king salmon streams in the area.

“Keeping a two king salmon bag limit on the Ninilchik could mislead some anglers into thinking there are more fish there, or there could be better fishing, and I think it makes sense for conservation purposes.”

Even though productivity of both wild and hatchery stocks to the Ninilchik have been below average the past two years, Vania said the one per day bag limit was still acceptable.

“It’s much like all these other streams during this periods of low productivity that we’re in, we’re going to continue to manage based upon how we think performance is going to be one year to the next. Should we just close this outright? I don’t think we’re there at this time.”

In our next story covering the Lower Cook Inlet Finfish meeting, we’ll learn about some of the proposals for commercial fishing.

-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-

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