Fishing on the Kuskokwim River may look a little different this summer. The Alaska Board of Fisheries has signed off on dip nets as a legal gear type for the river. Previously, dip nets were only used on the Kuskokwim when there was a closure for king salmon. During those conservation closures, fishermen could use dip nets so that any kings that were caught could be released live back into the river. With this decision, made at a meeting last week, the Alaska Board of Fisheries is allowing the use of dip nets during normal salmon openings.
The board also changed the required spacing between gillnets on tributaries in one section of the Kuskokwim, reducing the distance between gillnets from 150 feet to 75 feet. The tributaries of the Kuskokwim River affected by the change are those located north of Eek Island up to the mouth of the Kolmakoff River. This does not change gillnet regulation on the main stem of the river.
Area Management Biologist Aaron Tiernan says that shortening the distances between gillnets in these tributaries should make it easier for fishermen targeting whitefish and other species where there are reportedly not a whole lot of eddies. He does not see a problem with the change in terms of its impact on king salmon and conservation, adding that if a problem materializes, managers still have the tools to limit fishing.
All the other Kuskokwim River proposals failed to win board approval.