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What to know before you go fishing in Southcentral Alaska

  • Author: Matt Tunseth
  • Updated: May 24, 2018
  • Published May 24, 2018

Fishers line the bank of the Anchor River on the Kenai Peninsula. (Bob Hallinen / ADN archive 2004)

Sportfishing regulations in Alaska can be complex and difficult to understand, even for the experts.

"When people are going down to these streams to fish, they need to review the regulations for each one," said Carol Kerkvliet, Lower Cook Inlet area manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Kerkvliet was talking about the Ninilchik and Anchor River, but she could just as well be referring to any stream in the state. From rivers to lakes and from salmon to trout, regulations vary greatly from place to place.

Fortunately, the department offers online regulations as well as free regulation books available at most tackle shops, gas stations and sporting goods stores.

In addition to knowing the rules, anglers must purchase a fishing license and carry it while fishing. The licenses can be purchased at most retailers and are available for residents and nonresidents. Resident licenses are $29, while nonresident licenses range from $25 for a single-day license to $305 for an annual license. Anyone fishing for king salmon must obtain a king salmon stamp ($10 for residents, $15 to $100 for nonresidents); children under 16 don't need a license, but must obtain a free harvest card from Fish and Game.

Regulations vary widely by area, and Kerkvliet said it's the angler's responsibility to know the rules before heading out on the water.

"People need to make sure to review the regulations for the stream that they're fishing on," she said.

Personal-use hooligan fishing is also ongoing in both Turnagain Arm and Knik Arm. Dipnet fishing for the small, oily fish is open to Alaska residents only; there are no restrictions on the number of hooligan people can harvest, though wanton waste rules still apply. A resident sportfishing license is required.

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