Ice fishers get nipped over regulation abuse

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2004

Two weeks ago, a Kenai man was cited for failing to log a 27 1/2-inch rainbow trout he caught, an angler from Sterling was pinched for using three lines and a Soldotna man netted a citation for using four lines.

All three were ice fishing on Skilak Lake, and for one reason or another, violated state fishing regulations.

Just because it's winter, doesn't mean the regs aren't in place and aren't enforced, according to Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement Trooper Regional Commander Steve Bear.

"People especially need to be reminded that it's time to get a new fishing license," Bear said Wednesday.

Alaska sport fishing licenses are good for the calendar year, meaning 2003 licenses are no longer valid.

While general fishing regulations remain in effect for the entire year, some special rules pertain solely to ice fishing.

Sport fishing through the ice is permitted using two closely attended lines, provided only one hook or artificial lure is used on each line, according to Bear.

He said additional gear may be used if ice fishing for northern pike and burbot. In some lakes, up to 15 lines might be allowed for burbot fishing and five lines for northern pike.

However, the total number is not cumulative, but is equal to the maximum number of lines or hooks allowed for any species. For example, in a lake where 15 lines are allowed for burbot and five for northern pike, the maximum number of lines that may be fished is 15, not 20. Additionally, only five of the lines may be placed to target pike.

As is required during summer months, immediately upon landing a rainbow or steelhead trout 20 inches long or longer from Upper Kenai River tributaries between Skilak and Kenai lakes, anglers must fill out the harvest information on the back of the license, Bear said.

Fishers are limited each year to two rainbow or steelhead trout 20 inches or longer taken from any fresh water of Cook Inlet north of a line from Cape Douglas to Point Adam, according to regulations.

Bear, the commander who oversees the entire Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound, also cautioned ice fishers to be careful when venturing onto the ice with snowmachines, particularly as spring nears.

"Typically as it gets warmer, more people venture out on snowmachines," Bear said.

"As always, they should let someone know their plans where they are going and when they plan to return. This is a time when we get a lot of search and rescue calls," he said.

He also advises packing some survival gear, just as if venturing out on a cross country trip in summer.

"It's so easy to get lost out there, especially when the snow's flying," he said.



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