Copper River king run slow; sport fish limit sliced in half

GLENNALLEN -- A lagging Copper River king salmon run has prompted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to cut the annual sport fish limit on that river in half -- to two fish at least 20 inches long.

The department wants at least 24,000 kings to arrive upriver to spawn but biologists are worried they may not approach that benchmark.

Only 7,671 kings have been harvested in the Copper River District commercial gillnet fishery through June 9 -- the fewest through that date in at least 40 years. Not a single king has passed the Gulkana River counting tower yet.

Between 2002 and 2008, an average of 39 kings have passed the tower by that date.

In addition, according to Fish and Game, the research fish wheels run by the village of Eyak in Baird Canyon have shown the poorest return since 2003.

Any king salmon caught before June 15 does not count against the two king salmon that may be harvested after that date.

Anchorage Daily News /