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Kiss Deshka king salmon season goodbye

  • Author: Mike Campbell
  • Updated: July 3, 2017
  • Published July 3, 2017

A bright king salmon weighed 48 pounds.  (Mike Chihuly)

More Cook Inlet king salmon streams are closing early due to sluggish returns.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that all fisheries in the Susitna drainage — including the popular Deshka River — will close at 6 a.m. Tuesday, nine days early. The action follows a similar shutdown on the Little Susitna River last week.

"All indices of abundance suggest king salmon run strength in the Susitna drainage is lower than anticipated," state area management biologist Sam Ivey said in a press release.

The closure may help biologists attain their escapement goal of 13,000-28,000 Deshka kings reaching their upriver spawning beds. As of Friday, 10,359 kings had passed the weir located at river Mile 7. That's about half the number counted by the same date last year as well as in 2015.

In fact, it's the lowest return through July 2 since 2008.

"Any additional harvest cannot be justified," Ivey said. "All fish entering the lower Deshka River must be conserved."

In other Susitna Valley waterways, Fish and Game reports:

  • The Chulitna River has fallen short of its escapement goal four of the last five years.
  • The Talachulitna River has reached its escapement goal since 2012, partially due to anglers limited to catch and release fishing — though a harvest was reinstated this year. A June 26 aerial survey suggested king numbers were down.
  • Prarie Creek within the Talkeetna River drainage missed its escapement goal three of the past five years, including 2016.
  • Pink salmon arrive in Valdez

    Officials with the Valdez Fish Derbies said Monday that anglers lined the shores of Allison Point over the weekend to catch pink salmon.

    According to Mike Wells of the Valdez Fisheries Development Association, some 18.7 million pink salmon are expected in Port Valdez during July and August.

    The town's Pink Salmon Festival, including a cook-off, is scheduled for July 15. The Kids Pink Salmon Derby, free and open to kids 5 to 16, is a week later.  There will be a free barbecue and prizes in four age divisions.

    Take care with your fish waste

    Delinquent dipnetters could end up paying fines up to $1,000 if they dispose of fish waste improperly, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is warning salmon-hungry residents.

    "Fish attract bears," Anchorage area state wildlife biologist Dave Battle said in press release. "And bears are likely to defend those food sources."

    Fish waste should not be dumped into local lakes and streams because pathogens can be specific to various waterways, according to Dan Bosch Anchorage regional management coordinator with the Division of Sport Fish.

    If you clean your fish where you catch them, chop the carcasses into small pieces and toss them into fast-moving water. Anglers who clean their fish away from the river have other options:

  • Bring fish waste to a waste-transfer station or the landfill.
  • Freeze fish waste to eliminate odors before putting it in the garbage on the morning of trash pickup.
  • Central Peninsula Landfill at Mile 98.5 Sterling Highway accepts fish waste free of charge 8 a.m.-5:45 p.m. seven days a week.
  • Use Kenai Peninsula transfer facilities in Cooper Landing, Kasilof, and Ninilchik. All fish waste must be double-bagged in plastic trash bags with a limit of two bags dropped off per day.
  • Anchorage Regional Landfill, the city’s Central Transfer Station, and the Girdwood Transfer Station accept non-commercial fish waste.
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough Solid Waste takes non-commercial, bagged fish waste. The central landfill location serves Palmer and Wasilla, with transfer stations located in Big Lake, Butte, and Sutton.
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