The chums are beginning to swim up the Yukon River. They are even later than last year’s run, which was the latest run biologists had ever seen.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game manager Holly Carroll says that the subsistence fishing openings are designed to target chums using dip nets and beach seines, and let all kings swim on to spawn.
The next opening in District 1 of the Yukon River starts Friday, June 26 at 2 p.m. and ends Saturday, June 27 at 8 a,m. All king salmon must be released live. The next subsistence opening for District 2 of the Yukon River starts Saturday, June 27 at 2 p.m. and closes Sunday, June 28 at 8 a.m. This operning is also targeting chum salmon.
Carroll says that she knows the water is high and deep everywhere on the Yukon right now, even all the way up to Eagle. She says that she knows that this level of high water is unusual for this time of year, and it does make fishing harder for fishermen. She says that it hasn't hampered catches at the Pilot Station sonar yet, so it doesn't appear to be affecting the assessment of the run.
So few king salmon have returned to the Yukon River that there is a moratorium in effect to help get every king possible up to the spawning grounds. The run size is tracking with 2013 when the run was very weak. Carroll says that unless every king salmon is conserved now, it is possible that not enough will cross the border to meet the terms of the treaty agreement between the U.S. and Canada.