ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The state Department of Fish and Game has reopened the lower Yukon River to subsistence fishing, after a late burst of chum salmon returned to the river.
The entire river was closed in early August because so few fall chums had returned to spawn. On Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reopened the river from the coast to just below Anvik for two 18-hour fishing periods a week. The coastal district is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Most of the chum run is already past the fishermen's nets, but a few stragglers are expected, said department biologist Fred Bue. Fall chums are highly prized on the Yukon, for both human consumption and to feed sled dogs.
When the fall chum run started, it looked unlikely that the 350,000 fish needed for spawning would return. But a late push of chums boosted the run count to 355,000, Bue said, allowing the river to be reopened.
As the salmon continue upstream, the middle and upper river will reopen, though fishing periods will be tailored to ensure escapement goals are reached on individual tributaries, Bue said.
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