For all those king salmon anglers who annually wish something would change to improve their success their wish has been granted. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has issued an emergency order that will open up the Ninilchik River for a lot more angling opportunities this year.
"The Ninilchik will be open continuously seven days per week to fishing for hatchery king salmon beginning Saturday, May 29th at 12:01 a.m.," said Nicky Szarzi, area management biologist with Fish and Game in Homer.
"The harvest of wild king salmon will be permitted only during the usual regulatory openings: Memorial Day weekend, the next two weekends and the Mondays following those weekends," Szarzi added.
According to a Fish and Game press release, king salmon are stocked in the Ninilchik River to provide additional harvest opportunity for sport anglers while preventing overharvest of wild king salmon that return to the river.
An average of 630 hatchery-produced king salmon have escaped past the sport fishery on the Ninilchik River each year since 1999. A similar number is likely to move past the sport fishery in 2004.
As such, this additional opportunity will be available to harvest as many stocked fish as possible from the Ninilchik without negatively impacting the wild king salmon run or salmon spawning and rearing habitat.
Despite this increase in angling opportunity, the fishing area remains the same, according to Szarzi.
"Fishing is open from the river mouth upstream approximately two miles to the regulatory marker. Daily bag and possession limits for king salmon 20 inches or longer are one per day and one on possession. The daily limit for kings under 20 inches are 10 per day in possession," she said.
"Bait is allowed, but only one single hook may be used while fishing," Szarzi said." Double and treble hooks are now illegal to use in the Ninilchik with this increased harvest opportunity."
According to Fish and Game regulations, anglers can gut, but may not fillet, mutilate, remove the head or otherwise disfigure a king in such a manner that would prevent determination of fish length and proof that it was a hatchery king as evident by a missing adipose fin and a healed adipose fin clip scar until the fish is removed from the shoreline fishing site.
Also, any king salmon wild or hatchery intended for release may not be removed from the water.
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