King salmon fishing crews in southeastern Alaska fall short of winter season limit

Fishing quality in 2018 was particularly good for Chinook salmon and brown trout. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)

JUNEAU, Alaska — King salmon fishing crews in southeastern Alaska have fallen short of catching their limit for the winter season.

This year’s commercial harvest total is down from the previous two winters, KFSK-FM reported. Crews have caught about 43,000 king salmon this season after catching more than 45,000 in each of the past two years.

The winter had been looking even bleaker four weeks ago before a late surge, said Grant Hagerman, Alaska Fish and Game Department’s troll management biologist.

“So a down year,” Hagerman said. “And I think for most of this winter if you talked to trollers that fished, they’d tell you that it was down. What was interesting you know basically three to four weeks ago, we’d only taken half of that guideline harvest level. So basically the last three weeks of the fishery these trollers caught 22,000 kings or half of the GHL. Basically for the month of April they took half of the GHL.”

Alaska’s spring king salmon season started in May and runs through June.

Fishing spots and time are decreased this spring because of conservation concerns with non-hatchery king salmon. Those restrictions could impact the next two months of fishing, Hagerman said.

The summer season’s limit could be increased to make up for the low numbers, he said.

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