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Hunting & Fishing

Gillnet openings for lower Kuskokwim River subsistence salmon fishing

A subsistence fisherman harvests a king salmon from the lower Kuskokwim River during a gillnet opening on June 12, 2018.
Katie Basile
/
KYUK
A subsistence fisherman harvests a king salmon from the lower Kuskokwim River during a gillnet opening on June 12, 2018.

Subsistence salmon fishing on the lower Kuskokwim River and its tributaries will once again fall under federal management this summer. The Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge will manage the fishery in consultation with the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Regulations will be similar to last year.

Set net Openings

There will be three 16-hour set gillnet openings along the Kuskokwim River from the mouth to the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge boundary at Aniak.

June 1, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
June 4, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
June 8, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Set net Regulations

6-inch mesh or less
May not exceed 45 meshes in depth
May not be operated more than 100 feet from the ordinary high-water mark
Must be spaced 150 feet apart from other set nets

Drift Net Openings

There will be two 12-hour drift gillnet openings along the Kuskokwim River, from the mouth to the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge boundary at Aniak. Each opening will last 12 hours.

June 12, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
June 16, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Drift Net Regulations

6-inch mesh or less
May not exceed 45 meshes in depth
May not exceed 150 feet in length upstream of the Johnson River
May not exceed 300 feet in length downstream of the Johnson River

Fishing During Closures

When the river is closed, subsistence users can still fish, but with limited gear, using rod and reel, dipnets, beach seines, and fish wheels. Any salmon caught with these methods in federal waters from the Kuskokwim River mouth upstream to the refuge boundary at Aniak can be kept.

Any Chinook salmon caught with these methods in state managed waters, from the refuge boundary at Aniak to the headwaters, after June 9 must be returned to the water alive.

Salmon-Spawning Tributaries Closed To Gillnets beginning June 1

Eek River

Kwethluk River drainage to its confluence with Kuskokuak Slough

Kasigluk and Kisaralik River drainages, including Old Kuskokuak Slough

Tuluksak River drainage

Aniak River drainage

Aniak Box

All other Kuskokwim River tributaries are closed to gillnets from their confluence with the Kuskokwim River to 100 yards upstream. Subsistence fishing with gillnets will remain open upstream of that 100-yard closure area.

Why federal management is occurring

The feds have managed the lower Kuskokwim River fishery since 2014 because of concerns over low Chinook runs. This year they’re also concerned about low Chum runs following last summer’s lowest Chum return on record.

Who Can Fish

Salmon harvests on the lower Kuskokwim River will be restricted to federally qualified subsistence users beginning June 1 at 12:01 a.m. The restrictions apply to federal waters, from the Kuskokwim River mouth to the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge marker at Aniak. Federally qualified subsistence users are residents of the Kuskokwim River drainage and the coastal communities of Chefornak, Kipnuk, Kwigillingok, and Kongiganak.

The federal regulations place the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge Director as the Kuskokwim River king salmon in-season manager, in consultation with the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

The waters upstream of Aniak are under management of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and open to all Alaskans during fishing openings.