JUNEAU (AP) Southeast trollers took fewer king salmon and fewer hatchery fish as the spring season ended this week, the state Department of Fish and Game said.
The lower hatchery catch is significant because the spring troll season is aimed at hatchery fish which aren't limited by the Pacific Salmon Treaty with Canada.
Fishermen hauled in about 34,000 salmon during the spring season that ended on Monday, said Brian Lynch, a department fishery biologist. About 36 percent of the total catch was hatchery stocks.
Last year's spring troll season yielded about 44,000 king salmon, of which about 52 percent were hatchery fish.
The dip was attributed to late-returning fish, both hatchery spawned and wild salmon, Lynch told the Juneau Empire.
''The entry pattern was much later than it was last year, and we were going around last year's patterns,'' Lynch said.
The drop could also be affected by weather and better longline prices for groundfish, said Dale Kelly, executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association.
There were 65 fewer boats in the spring troll season over last year's 423 ship fleet. ''If the price is good, a lot of guys are going to go out and take that,'' she said.
Fish and Game officials hope for a harvest of about 146,000 king salmon in the first summer fishery, which opened Tuesday. That number will include about 141,500 treaty fish. The season runs through Sept. 20, and the second opening will occur in August.
Last year's first summer opening target was 155,000.
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