Coho limits Loosened in the Mat-Su

Coho salmon are running so strong in three Matanuska Valley creeks that the state department of fish and game has upped the bag and possession limit for the species in three Knik Arm streams.

The change starts August 9, this coming Saturday. Sam Ivey, a sportfish biologist with the Palmer office, says Fish Creek, Wasilla Creek and Cottonwood Creek bag limits for coho 16 inches or greater, have been increased from two to three fish and with possession also increased from two fish to three.

“We’ve had weirs on these three systems in the past. When one system’s done well, the other two have fared pretty well as well, so we’re looking at a weir that we have on Fish Creek, and we have an escapement goal, and we reached that goal here on August 3rd. We’re at about 2,000 fish after yesterday’s count of about 400. So things are looking pretty good there; it’s not gangbusters or anything, but it’s enough to support a liberalization to those three fisheries,” Ivey says.

In addition, a third day, Monday, has been added to the formerly weekend – only sports fisheries.

“You know, overall the run has been fair to good — even above average success rates in some areas of the Mat-Su so far. We’re kind of in the early part of the season, approaching the middle part of fishing — August is the month for fishing Coho — all the way through the beginning to the end, even into September. But these are fairly restricted fisheries to begin with and so when we see pretty good numbers we can take a step to increase the harvest. It doesn’t amount to more than several hundred fish or so for the season but it provides more opportunity to get out there and fish,” Ivey says.

He says Coho salmon runs to certain Knik Arm streams are way better than anticipated. Since August 4 (monday ), more than 1500 fish have passed a weir at Fish Creek. Fish and Game estimates a total escapement of more than 9 thousand fish, far beyond the escapement goal of 1200 to 4400 fish.

The increase only affects the three creeks mentioned. The Little Susitna River, Jim Creek and Eklutna Tailrace are not affected by the new  bag limits.