Hunting & Fishing

Stories related to subsistence/commercial/sport hunting, fishing, gathering activities.

A gillnet soaks in the Kuskokwim River during a subsistence fishing opener on June 12, 2018.
Katie Basile / KYUK

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in consultation with the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, lifted its federal restrictions Friday, July 6, beginning at 3 p.m.

A gillnet drifts in the lower waters of the Kuskokwim River during a subsistence fishing opening on June 12, 2018.
Katie Basile / KYUK

The federal waters of the Kuskokwim River will have a 12-hour subsistence gillnet opening from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 5. Standard net restrictions apply.

The opening comes as chum and red salmon have become increasingly more abundant relative to king salmon in the lower river. At the state-run Bethel Test Fishery, for every 31.2 chum and reds caught on Monday, there was one king salmon harvested. This species ratio is much larger than during the previous gillnet opening last week, when 8.7 chum and reds for every king were caught at the test fishery.

Cassandra Tinker, age 23, of Kasigluk was killed in a hit-and-run car accident while crossing a street in Anchorage around 3 a.m. on June 16, 2018.
Courtesy of Mary Alice Tinker

Two families in Kasigluk lost loved ones last month and the deaths stopped many from going fishing for the food they need for winter. In response, state and federal fishery managers teamed up to deliver salmon to the two families in mid-June. KYUK was with one of the families during the wake of 23-year-old Cassandra Tinker after the fish arrived.

Salmon belly strips hang to dry on a fish rack along the lower Kuskokwim River.
Petra Harpak / KYUK

The king salmon harvest in one section of the lower Kuskokwim River has reached an estimated 20,000 kings; the total Kuskokwim king harvest is expected to be even higher drainage-wide. This catch comes during a year of intended king salmon conservation.

Yukon Commercial Gillnet Openings

Jul 2, 2018

Later this week, the lower Yukon River will see its first commercial gillnet salmon fishing openings of the season. There will be two 6-hour openings for gillnets in District 1: one on Wednesday, the Fourth of July, and the other on Thursday, July 5.  Both begin at 6 p.m. and end at midnight.  

In District 2, commercial fishing with dipnets and beach seine gear will continue until the weekend, when the district will have its first commercial gillnet openings on Saturday and Sunday. Each of them will begin at 4 p.m. and end at 10 p.m. 

Salmon are harvested from the Kuskokwim River during a subsistence fishing opening on June 12, 2018.
Katie Basile / KYUK

The lower Kuskokwim River is opening to gillnets on Friday, June 29 just as a surge of king salmon appear to be swimming by. The timing could result in a high harvest of kings during a year when conservation was the intent.

Katie Basile / KYUK

After a large snowfall in the Alaska and Kilbuck Mountain ranges, followed by a cool spring, the Kuskokwim River is running high, murky, and cool this season. The conditions are creating challenges for fishermen during an already highly restricted fishing season.

Katie Basile / KYUK

Friday's gillnet opening in the lower Kuskokwim River may not be the last one. The Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working Group is recommending that the community of Kasigluk receive additional fishing hours this season after recent deaths limited the community’s ability to subsistence fish.

Fishermen soak a gillnet targeting salmon in the Kuskokwim River near Napaskiak during a subsistence fishing opening on June 12, 2018.
Katie Basile / KYUK

The federal waters of the lower Kuskokwim River will have a six-hour subsistence fishing opening on Friday. Openings have been limited and heavily restricted this season to conserve low king salmon stocks, and Friday’s opening will mark only the fourth opportunity to target salmon in the lower river this season. Amid conservation concerns, Kuskokwim residents are urging fellow fishermen to only fish during Friday’s opening if they need to. 

Katie Basile / KYUK

The escapement goal set at the beginning of the season for Kuskokwim River king salmon appears unlikely to be met, and another federal fishing opening has been scheduled, which will take more kings out of the water.