Slow chinook salmon runs all over the state are curtailing commercial and subsistence fishing, and now sports anglers in the Matanuska Valley are facing fishing closures.
Sam Ivey, sportsfish manager for state Fish and Game in Palmer, says pre-season expectations of a weak chinook salmon run have panned out..
“We anticiapated a run that would be similar in size to what we have seen the last two years, maybe slightly better, and simply put, we just have not observed that run to date. “
He says the run is even worse than anticipated. Chinook salmon fishing on the Little Su River has closed as of last week, now Fish and Game biologists are considering closures on the Deshka, because of poor fish counts at a wier at mile seven
“And so we have daily counts reported to us. We have an escapement goal that ranges from 13,000 to 28,000 and at this time we have about 5800 fish counted through the weir and we are at the midpoint of the run. And so we are looking at more restrictive measures to put in place on the Deshka River and working out the details and we are additionally looking at restrictions or closures on the Susitna drainages streams within days of any action that we may take on the Deshka River”
Ivey says fishing guides are reporting low harvests across the board, and that information is backed up by fish counts. He says there is no indication that the chinook run is simply late.
“Indications all the way down south to the mouth of Cook Inlet are for another year of weak king salmon returns. The Kenai River early run king salmon fishery was just recently completely closed. “
Chinook fishing closures are also happening on the Copper, the Kuskokwim, the Yukon and other rivers.
The exception in the Matanuska Valley is the Eklutna Tail Race, a stocked fishery near Palmer. According to assistant sportsfish manager Sam Oslund, anglers report chinook salmon are beginning to show up as of today [wednesday] at that fishing spot. Fish and Game stocks the Tail Race with chinook and coho salmon.