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Kuskokwim River above Kalskag Bluffs opens full time to gillnets. Next lower river gillnet opening June 22

A gillnet on the Kuskokwim river
Katie Basile
A gillnet on the Kuskokwim river

Beginning June 20 at 6 a.m., the Kuskokwim River opened full time to gillnets from the Kalskag Bluffs upstream to the headwaters under federal regulation.

In recent years, fishery managers have opened this area in late June full time to gillnets before the rest of the lower river. Fishermen in the Kalskag area say that there are only a handful of places near their villages to driftnet, and boats have to take turns drifting during fishing openings. Managers are opening this area early to allow more fishing opportunity. They estimate that fishermen will harvest 2,000 to 5,000 Chinook salmon from this area and do not expect the change to hinder meeting escapement goals. The regulation change also notes that chum are in the early stage of their run.

The Kuskokwim waters from Aniak to the headwaters opened full time to gillnets on June 12.

The Kuskokwim waters downstream of the Kalskag Bluffs remain closed to gillnets, except during designated openings. The next gillnet opening for these lower river waters, from the mouth upstream to the Kalskag Bluffs, is scheduled for June 22 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Gillnets are restricted to 6-inch or less mesh, 45 meshes in depth, and may not exceed 150 feet in length upstream of the Johnson River and 300 feet in length downstream of the Johnson River.

Harvest data from the previous gillnet opening on June 16 estimates that over 9,770 salmon were taken from the lower Kuskokwim from Tuntutuliak upstream to Akiak, including an estimated 7,680 Chinook, 1,920 sockeye, and 160 chum.

Harvest data from all openings this season estimate that 12,610 Chinook salmon, 2,300 sockeye, and 220 chum have been taken from the lower river, from Tuntutuliak upstream to Akiak.

Anna Rose MacArthur is the KYUK News Director. She has worked at KYUK since 2015 and previously worked at KNOM in Nome, Alaska.
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