Anglers will get another chance at fishing for Anchor River king salmon during the 2015 season.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers announced a fifth opening weekend on Thursday, that will be from June 13-15 and a fifth Wednesday opening on June 17 for the Anchor River drainage after enough fish flooded the river that they’re projecting a final escapement of about 9,000 king salmon.
The Anchor River’s escapement goal for king salmon is between 3,800-10,000 fish.
Fish and Game managers issued an emergency order allowing further sport fishing on the Anchor River drainage and rescinded a previous Feb. 19 emergency order expansion of a closed area in the saltwater at the mouth of the Anchor River.
Anglers are still restricted to sportfishing with one unbaited, single-hook and an artificial lure through June 30. In addition, an emergency order that established a combined annual limit of two king salmon that is 20 inches or greater in length, for fish harvested in Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and all marine waters south of the latitude at the mouth of the Ninilchik River, remains in effect through July 15.
Managers decided to liberalize the fishery after several days of king passage passing the weir on the Anchor River put them at more than 4,000 kings. Historically, nearly 45 percent of the run has passed by the Anchor River weir by this point in the season, according to Fish and Game data.
Homer area management biologist Carol Kervliet said there are indications that the run may be early, but as there is no fishing effort that takes place above the weir, managers have already landed within the goal range for king salmon passage this season.
“It’s very exciting to see these numbers right now,” Kerkvliet said. “There are a lot of smiles down in this neck of the woods.”
Elsewhere in the Cook Inlet, Fish and Game managers have lifted gear restrictions on king fishing in the Deshka River.
The northern Cook Inlet river was initially restricted as part of a king salmon conservation strategy implemented by Fish and Game managers. However, more than 8,200 king salmon have been counted at a weir on the river at a time when about 20 percent of the river’s escapement has typically passed.
Managers will allow bait and multiple hooks beginning June 13 at 6 a.m. and running through July 13. Fish and Game estimates that this liberalization will result in anglers catching about 1,500 kings. However, current projections show that the run could sustain that level of harvest and still fall within the goal range of 13,000-28,000 king salmon, according to a fish and game media release.
Reach Rashah McChesney at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @litmuslens