I called this earlier today. Now it's official:
June 21, 2011
ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME
Cora Campbell, Commissioner
DIVISION OF SPORT FISH
Charles O. Swanton, Director
UCUS Area Management Biologist
AMENDMENT TO THE 2011 COPPER RIVER PERSONAL USE DIP NET SALMON FISHING SCHEDULE The Chitina Subdistrict will open from 12:01 a.m. Monday, June 27 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 3. There will be no supplemental harvest during this fishing period. This announcement does not change the fourth opening of the Chitina Subdistrict, which will remain at 12:01 a.m., Monday, June 20 until 11:59 p.m., Sunday, June 26.
In addition, this emergency order closes the Chitina Subdistrict Personal Use Dip Net Salmon Fishery to the retention of king salmon. King salmon incidentally taken may not be retained and must be released immediately and returned to the water unharmed.
As a reminder, the Copper River Personal Use Dip Net Salmon Fishery Management Plan and the Statewide Personal Use Fishing Regulations, as amended by 2011 Emergency Orders, state that:
• The seasonal bag limit is a total of 15 salmon for a household of one, and 30 salmon for a household of two or more.
• Personal use fishermen must possess both their Chitina Personal Use fishery permit and a valid resident sport fishing license when fishing.
• Steelhead and king salmon cannot be kept, and must be returned to the water unharmed.
• When a harvestable surplus of 50,000 salmon or greater will be present in the Chitina Subdistrict, by emergency order, a supplemental permit for 10 additional sockeye salmon will be issued to Chitina Subdistrict personal use permit holders.
• Harvest must be recorded on the permit immediately.
• The tips of the tail of personal use caught fish must be clipped immediately upon landing a fish.
• Immediately is defined as before concealing the salmon from plain view or transporting the salmon from the fishing site. Fishing site means the location where the fish was removed from the water and became part of the permit holder’s bag limit.
During June 13 – June 19, there were 43,204 salmon counted past the Miles Lake sonar. The preseason projection for this period was 55,779 salmon, which results in a deficit of 12,575 salmon. Copper River sockeye salmon migratory timing and the previous five-year average harvest and participation rates indicate sufficient numbers of salmon to maintain 168 hours of fishing time during the week of June 27 – July 3.
A total of 17,370 king salmon have been harvested within the Copper River District commercial gillnet fishery as of June 17. This is 10,308 fish below the last 10-year average of 27,678 king salmon. As of June 19, a total of 132 king salmon have passed the Gulkana River counting tower. Cumulative counts from 2002 – 2010, through June 19, have averaged 448 king salmon with only 1 out of 9 years observing less than 162 king salmon past the tower by that date. In addition, cumulative catch rates through June 19 in the Native Village of Eyak sampling fishwheels are the second lowest for this date since the sampling project was begun in 2003. Copper River king salmon migratory timing and five year average harvest rates indicate insufficient numbers of king salmon to sustain a king salmon fishery in the Chitina Subdistrict and still attain a spawning escapement of 24,000 or more king salmon in the Copper River drainage.
Public access, without a fee, to the Copper River is available in those areas where the eastern boundary of the 300’ wide O’Brien Creek Road easement reaches the ordinary high water mark of the west bank of the Copper River. The road from O’Brien Creek to Haley Creek is unmaintained and is closed to highway vehicles. Travelers proceed by other means at their own risk. Boat launch access to the Copper River is available via the 17b easement located upstream of the Chitina-McCarthy Bridge on the east bank of the Copper River. Public access and boat launching is also available downstream of the Chitina-McCarthy Bridge on the east bank of the Copper River within the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) right of way (ROW) where it reaches ordinary high water. Boat launching is currently not available at O’Brien Creek.
Landowners in the area have incorporated a fee-based permit system which allows public access over their private lands along the Copper River. Not all private land is posted. A brochure, which offers guidance into private land locations within the fishery area, is distributed with the permit. The Department urges dipnetters to respect the rights of private landowners.
When cleaning fish, the carcasses should be disposed of in fast moving water that washes the carcasses downstream such as O’Brien Creek or the Copper River. Leaving carcasses along the road, stream bank or in lakes is considered littering and subject to a $1,000 fine.
Public camping is available at the DOT wayside on the east bank of the Copper River by the Chitina-McCarthy Bridge, waysides along the O’Brien Creek Road ROW, the Liberty Falls Recreation Site, and a private campground at the Chitina Airport. Wood cutting within the DOT ROW is prohibited.
Information regarding the fishery can be found at the ADF&G web site: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...orChitina.main. This site provides information regarding the Upper Copper River fisheries including: fishery descriptions and summaries, maps of the subdistricts, a listing of vendors that carry the permits, and links to the sonar numbers and emergency orders. If you have any questions regarding the Chitina Subdistrict personal use fishery, please contact the ADF&G office in Glennallen at (907) 822-3309. Changes in the fishery openings will be announced at least 48 hours in advance. Fishery information is available 24 hours each day at (907) 822-5224 in Glennallen, (907) 459-7382 in Fairbanks and (907) 267-2511 in Anchorage. Please contact the information phone line prior to planning your trip to Chitina to insure that the fishery will be open when you arrive.