True to predictions, the personal-use fishery at the mouth of the Kasilof River was closed at 6 p.m. Saturday by an emergency order issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use Salmon Fishery Management Plan requires Fish and Game to manage the fishery so that a harvest of 10,000 to 20,000 sockeyes is achieved. As of Thursday, catches had already reached the range of 10,000 to 14,000 salmon. By Friday at 11 a.m. the department had issued the emergency order.
Ruby Gonzales and her husband Dan had already pulled their nets Wednesday, several days prior to the closure. Their household reached its limit of 25 fish during the openings from Saturday to Wednesday, so they were not affected by the early closure of the period.
However, Gonzales was concerned for others who may not have limited out in time.
"I was hoping they would leave it open for another four or five days, or at least until Sunday, for the working people that don't get to fish during the week."
Gonzales has participated in the fishery since moving to Alaska with her husband in 1993. She said she can't recall a time in those years that it was closed early, although she remembers when people were having a little trouble getting their fish and it was extended.
She and her husband use the fish themselves and share with neighbors.
"Its not something we have to depend on, but we do use the fish," she said.
Gonzales fishes more for the excitement of being out on the beach.
"There is something about having your net our there and hoping you get a fish," she said. "I don't know how to put it in words. We like it because there is excitement in it."
She said every year they are so tired they say they will never do it again. But this year they are already talking about going out again next season.
"It is hard work, you can't say it is easy. You don't get your fish easy that way, but it gives you a satisfaction you get nowhere else."
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