Federally qualified subsistence users can fish the lower Kuskokwim River with 6-inch mesh gillnets until Saturday, June 1. On that date, federal managers will take control of the Kuskokwim from the river mouth upstream to the Yukon National Wildlife Refuge boundary at Aniak, closing this area of the main-stem to gillnets, except during pre-announced fishing openings.
On June 1, federal managers will also close the following salmon-spawning tributaries to king salmon harvests: the Eek, Kwethluk, Kasigluk, Kisaralik, Tuluksak, and Aniak Rivers. All other Kuskokwim tributaries will remain open to gillnets beginning 100 yards upstream from where they meet the Kuskokwim.
After June 1, any king salmon caught in a fish wheel, dip net, beach seine, or hook and line in federal waters can be kept by federally qualified subsistance users. Non-federally qualified users must return the kings to the water alive.
Today, May 28, state restrictions took effect in the lower river, closing the main-stem to gillnets from the Kuskokwim mouth to the Tuluksak River mouth. Also today, state restrictions closed salmon-spawning tributaries to gillnets. However, these state restrictions only apply to non-federally qualified subsistence users, basically to anyone residing outside the Kuskokwim.
On Thursday, June 6, state managers will close the Kuskokwim main-stem from Aniak to the Holitna River mouth and on Tuesday, June 11, they’ll close the main-stem from the Holitna River mouth to the Kuskokwim headwaters.
State managers with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are predicting a below average run for Kuskokwim kings, an estimated 115,000 to 150,000 fish, roughly the same number as last year’s run. They expect average runs for chum, red, and silver salmon.
Correction: A previous version of the story stated that the Kuskokwim main-stem and salmon-spawning tributaries from the Kuskokwim River mouth to the Tuluksak River mouth were closed to gillnets and king salmon harvests beginning May 28. That state restriction only applies to non-federally qualified subsistence users, or anyone residing outside the Kuskokwim River area, following a ruling made by the Federal Subsistence Board in April. The Kuskokwim River from the mouth to Yukon National Wildlife Refuge boundary at Aniak will remain open to 6-inch or less mesh gillnets until June 1. Also, after June 1, any king salmon caught in a fish wheel, dip net, beach seine, or hook and line in federal waters can be kept by federally qualified subsistance users. Non-federally qualified users must return the kings to the water alive.