King Season Ends. Silvers on the Way.

Full audio: 20130715Salmon

Mid-July is a time of transition for fishermen in the northern Valley.  King salmon season ended on Saturday, July 13th, and the silver run has yet to arrive in force.

This year’s king salmon restrictions were considerably stricter than last year.  Fish and Game Area Manager Sam Ivey said in June that the more conservative regulations were meant to prevent the kind of early closure that shut down king salmon fishing last year. Ivey says that the tougher regulations achieved their purpose.

“We’ve been successful toward that goal.  That’s been really encouraging, not only to anglers out there, but also from a management perspective.”

The most encouraging news in the area came from the Deshka River, where numbers of king salmon were high enough that some of the restrictions on fishing the river were lifted mid-season.  Even though a late thaw delayed counting, Fish and Game is satisfied that they have a good tally, thanks to a surge in the run in late June.

“From about the 21st of June for about the next week we saw an onslaught of fish moving up the Deshka River.  We were counting anywhere from 1,000 to over 3,000 in a short period.  That brought the numbers up, and we were able to achieve the goal by the end of June.”

The high numbers didn’t necessarily mean success for anglers, however.  Ivey says that the warm water temperatures caused fish to “stall out” in the Susitna River during the record heat wave last month before resuming their runs when the weather cooled off.  Final numbers for the run strength on the rest of the Northern Cook Inlet drainages will have to wait until aerial surveys are conducted over the next two weeks.

With king salmon season over,  many area anglers will be setting their sights on silver salmon in the coming weeks.  Sam Ivey says that there may be good news on the horizon.

“Indications so far down in the Lower Cook Inlet and into the northern district are are encouraging towards a better run of coho [silver] salmon.  We’ll have to get those first weir counts in.  It’s still relatively early right now, and we’re not running projections for escapements on any systems yet.  There are some fish showing, and we’ll have to see what that means.  It does sound encouraging, so far.”

Encouraging enough that Ivey doesn’t plan on letting everyone else have all the fun for the rest of the summer.

“I look forward to doing a lot of fishing the rest of the season myself, and encourage other people to get out there and get after it.”

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