The commercial salmon trolling fleet in Southeast has a six-day opening for king salmon starting today.
Pattie Skannes, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s troll management biologist for Southeast, said the six day opening will target over 62-thousand king salmon. “That’s a relatively low target for the first opener,” Skannes said. “Because of that we’ve set the number of days at six. Most years recently we just opened it up and say we’ll keep and eye on it and close by emergency order but this year we won’t have a chance to get much information, so we’re setting it for six days.”
The fleet typically has two openings each summer targeting king salmon, which are managed based on abundance estimates and allocations between U.S. and Canadian fishing fleets under the Pacific Salmon Treaty.
Southeast trollers in May and June have been targeting hatchery king salmon, along with hatchery chums in spring fishery that wrapped up June 30th. By the last week in June, 547 permit holders had landed over 32,000 kings in the spring fishery. Kings have been averaging around $4.94 a pound, down from a peak in May of almost eight dollars a pound. The kings have been worth about $2.4 million at the docks.
Trollers haven’t just been catching Chinook. The fleet has landed over 200-thousand chum salmon this spring, most of them Douglas Island Pink and Chum or DIPAC hatchery chums caught in the “Home Shore” area of Icy Strait. Skannes said fishing effort and harvest of chums is significant higher this year than year’s past. “This year we’ve got 167 permits that have targeted chum in Icy Strait so far,” she said. “That compares to 98 permits last year, and 103 the year before, going through the same time period. The chum are averaging only 7.7 pounds which is rather small but they have a value of 65 (cents) a pound right now.”
That puts the value of the troll caught chum fishery at over a million dollars so far this year. The fleet has also landed about 17-thousand coho, with an average price of a dollar five a pound for silvers.
The king salmon opening closes at 11:59 p.m. July 6th unless Fish and Game shortens or lengthens the fishing period.