Commercial Fishing on the Kuskokwim Opens Monday

The Kuskokwim’s first commercial opening is Monday afternoon. KYUK file photo.
The Kuskokwim’s first commercial opening is Monday afternoon. KYUK file photo.

The summer’s first commercial fishing on the Kuskokwim River takes place Monday, August 10th.

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Managers say that this year’s silver run is below average for this time of year and could be late or weak. But they say there should be enough fish for escapement, subsistence, and a limited commercial harvest.

Aaron Poetter is the Kuskokwim Management Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He notes the historical midpoint of the run was Saturday.

“We feel we’ve provided for fish that should help people meet subsistence needs and still have harvestable surplus for a commercial activity,” said Poetter.

Poetter says the run is behind the five and ten-year average but it looks like similar runs in 2005, 2010, 2012, and 2013 which allowed for commercial fishing on top of other harvest. There was no commercial fishing for chums this year due to a weak run. Poetter says Fish and Game officials understand that people will be relying more on silvers for subsistence.

“…Especially with restrictions on Chinook fishery and the poor chum run we saw. We’re hearing that some folks are now just now starting to do their subsistence fishing, which is pretty late for the year for getting started. And we’ve heard that others are completely done and might go out for just a few silvers for the dinner table. We have a board breadth of where folks are at for meeting subsistence needs,” said Poetter.

The waters from 15 miles below the Johnson River to Eek Island are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From Bethel down to the marker located 15 miles below the Johnson, fishing takes place from noon to 6 p.m.

With the commercial opening comes a subsistence closure. The waters below Strait Slough to the mouth will be closed to subsistence fishing from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The first Kuskokwim commercial opening is on Monday.
The first Kuskokwim commercial opening is on Monday.