Anchorage anglers have a silver lining to an otherwise gloomy salmon season.
On Tuesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game raised the bag limit on coho — also known as silver — salmon in Ship Creek from three to six fish per day starting Wednesday and lasting through the rest of the year.
Anchorage area management biologist Jay Baumer said fish have been moving into the downtown Anchorage stream in large numbers.
"The recent rain has brought in a good slug of coho salmon in local streams," Baumer said in a Tuesday press release.
According to the department, 1,689 coho have been counted upstream of the fishery — enough to allow for the higher limits.
"This escapement is anticipated to fulfill the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery coho salmon broodstock goals and natural spawning requirements for Ship Creek," the department wrote.
The announcement comes as welcome news on Ship Creek, where chinook salmon fishing was closed in June due to extremely poor returns.
Fishing for coho salmon in the Anchorage area has reportedly been strong, with the department reporting good catch rates in Ship and Bird creeks, as well as fish moving into Campbell Creek with the recent rains.
On Tuesday, the department also liberalized the coho salmon fishery on the Susitna River drainage by increasing the daily bag limit from two to four fish per day and eight in possession.
"ADF&G has received positive reports from sport anglers and guides that they are experiencing above average catch rates across all clear water tributaries in the Susitna River drainage," area management biologist Sam Ivey said in a Tuesday press release.
Only three fish per day and six in possession may be pink, chum and sockeye in combination, the department said.
Ivey said the sustainable escapement goal for coho salmon has already been met on the Deshka River. The run is trending up, according to the department, meaning the river will likely exceed its escapement goal. As of Aug. 13, more than 11,000 coho had been counted above the Deshka weir. The river has a sustainable escapement goal of between 10,200 and 24,100 coho. Through Aug. 13 last year, the Deshka had seen 8,550 coho; by the end of the season nearly 37,000 had been counted.
The Deshka makes up between 7 and 17 percent of the total Susitna River run.
"Given this information, it is likely the Susitna River is experiencing a well above average run of coho salmon," Ivey wrote.