The Alaska Board of Fisheries approved changes to regulations that take effect this season. According to Jason Pawluk, Alaska Department of Fish and Game assistant area management biologist, the changes are minor, but there are two changes that may have more impact than the others.
"This year's changes to the sport fisheries is pretty minimal, not much really changed," Pawluk said, "There are a few things that will affect some people."
Pawluk did say there were changes that could affect everyday anglers.
The first regulation change that might have an impact, Pawluk says, is the regulation that states "Below the Soldotna Bridge, a drift boat may have onboard a single motor no greater than 10 horse power to be used to exit the drift boat fishery on Mondays, only after fishing has ceased for the day, and only downstream of Cunningham Park (River Mile 6.5)."
This change mirrors the regulations currently in place on the Kasilof River allowing drift boats to safely exit the fishery in a tidal area where the tides and weather conditions can create some tough waves.
The other significant change will not be imperative until July 1, when coho season starts.
"The big one I probably would have to say is the new regulation for all Kenai Peninsula fresh waters that basically says coho salmon may not be removed from the water prior to being released," Pawluk said.
The official regulation states, "Coho salmon may not be removed from the water prior to release; a coho removed from the water counts toward the bag limit of the person hooking it, and must be retained."
However, if a coho is caught and netted in the water and unhooked, there will be no penalty, says Pawluk.
There is a growing catch-and-release fishery for coho salmon based on statewide harvest survey numbers, showing the number of released fish is increasing, and that led to a concern from the board about low silver returns, according to Pawluk.
Anglers should be aware of the changes made every year; the information is available on the Fish and Game website and published in pamphlets and fishing regulation books available almost anywhere, Pawluk said.
For more information about the sport fisheries regulation changes, visit www.adfg.alaska.gov.
Logan Tuttle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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