Federal managers have announced a set gillnet opportunity for Saturday, June 1 to give subsistence users a taste of king salmon. The 12-hour opening runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. within the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, from the Kuskokwim River mouth upstream to the refuge boundary at Aniak.
Federally qualified subsistence users can participate. These users are anyone living along the Kuskokwim River or in the coastal villages of Chefornak, Kipnuk, Kwigillingok, or Kongiganak.
The set gillnets on the Kuskokwim River mainstem must be attached to the bank and oriented perpendicular to the river. The nets must be 6-inch or less mesh, may not exceed 45 meshes in depth, or 60 feet in length in the water, and may not be operated more than 100 feet from the ordinary high water mark.
Other fishing methods, like rod and reel, dipnets, fish wheels, and beach seines, remain open to the harvest of all fish, including king salmon in the Kuskokwim mainstem. Kings caught in this gear on the mainstem, even outside an opening, can be kept.
However, salmon-spawning tributaries are closed to gillnets and to king salmon harvest, including the Eek, Kasigluk, Kisaralik, Tuluksak, Aniak, and the Kwethluk, starting at its confluence with the Kuskokuak Slough. The Old Kuskokuak Slough where the Kisaralik and Kasigluk drain is also closed. No kings may be taken from these tributaries.
All other tributaries in the refuge are open, beginning 100 yards from where they meet the Kuskokwim.
Another closed area is what’s referred to as the “Aniak Box,” an area stretching from the Aniak runway to the refuge boundary where salmon are known to mill.
Also on Saturday, June 1, state managers have announced a subsistence fishing opportunity for 12 hours from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The opening is also for set gillnets within the refuge on the Kuskokwim mainstem. However, the state opportunity also applies to Alaska residents living outside the Kuskokwim area who want to fish in the refuge. The state opening restricts these users to 4-inch or less mesh set gillnets and requires nets to have an attached keg or buoy with the fisherman’s first initial, last name, and address written on it.
The state also requires any king salmon caught by non-Kuskokwim area residents with rod and reel, dipnets, fish wheels, and beach seines to be returned to the water alive.