The first king salmon has already been caught on the Yukon river. Kings and chums were harvested on May 27, but there is a lot of water in the lower Yukon River this season, along with a lot of wood debris that's making it tough to fish.
This summer, kings are expected to arrive in the Yukon early and in good numbers like they did last year. The preseason prediction is a run of 170,000 to 251,000 kings on the Yukon River. State managers are being conservative until they get better numbers on the actual fish in the river. They plan to put District 1, District 2 and District 3 of the Yukon river on a reduced subsistence harvest.
The South Coastal district, which includes Hooper Bay and Scammon Bay, will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Fishermen may use 7.5-inch or smaller mesh gillnets. The same is true for now in Districts 1, 2, and 3 of the Yukon River, which includes the Black River and North Coastal district.
But starting Friday, June 8, the subsistence salmon openings in District 1, which includes the Black River and North Coastal district, will be limited to two 18-hour periods per week from 2 p.m. Fridays to 8 a.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Tuesdays to 8 a.m. Wednesdays. During subsistence salmon closures, fishing for non-salmon species is allowed. However, only gillnets with 4-inch or smaller mesh may be used.
Districts 2 and 3 of the Yukon River will be under a similar management starting three days later on Monday, June 11, when subsistence harvest of salmon will be limited to two 18-hour periods a week from 2 p.m. Mondays to 8 a.m. Tuesdays, and 2 p.m. Thursdays to 8 a.m. Fridays. Again, during the salmon closures subsistence fishermen can target other species, but must use gillnets with 4-inch or smaller mesh.
Subsistence fishing remains wide open on the Innoko River, with fishing for any species open 24 hours a day, seven days a week with nets up to 7.5-inch mesh and fish wheels.
There is no word yet on whether there will be a commercial harvest of kngs on the Yukon. Last summer was the first time in years that there were enough fish to allow a commercial harvest of the world’s most oily king salmon. Word is that the decision to open a commercial fishery on kings won’t come until well into the run, when biologists are certain there are enough kings making it across the border into Canada and to spawning grounds to meet the terms of the Pacific Salmon Treaty between the U.S. and Canada.