Sport fishing restricted to ensure escapement

A pair of coho salmon caught during the Ed Zeine Kids Fishing Derby. (Sept. 7, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times
A pair of coho salmon. (Sept. 7, 2019) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Sport fishing for coho salmon in Copper River Highway streams is reduced to a one fish per day and limit of two in possession through Dec. 31, in an effort by state fisheries biologists to help increase escapement in the Copper River Delta drainage.

The new limit announced on Monday, Sept. 23 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in in effect on Wednesday, Sept. 25, is in conjunction with the sport fishing restriction prohibiting bait in the Copper River Highway streams. These streams include all freshwater drainages crossed by the Copper River Highway from and including Eyak River to the Million Dollar Bridge, including Clear Creek at Mile 42 downstream of the Carbon Mountain Road Bridge.

Biologists have been unable to conduct an aerial survey since Sept. 17. Without additional information to support sufficient escapement to meet escapement needs, a further reduction in harvest is necessary, said Jay Baumer, sport fish area management biologist.

As of Sept. 17, the Copper River Delta drainage aerial survey count for coho salmon was estimated at 7,725 fish versus an anticipated range of 16,908 to 35,401, prompting the limits.