Southeast Alaska commercial trollers have their first summer opening for king salmon July 1st.
Managers are hoping the fleet will catch around 122-thousand wild stock kings, managed under the Pacific Salmon Treaty between the U.S. and Canada, along with several thousand more Alaska hatchery kings.
“It appears that there’s a good abundance of treaty fish,” said Pattie Skannes, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s troll management biologist for Southeast. “During the spring we’re limited to fishing in mainly inside waters of the region. So it’s hard to predict exactly what we will see when we’ll get to fish on the outer coast. But I’m expecting the abundance will good. I’m expecting the effort to be high, especially given the high prices we’ve had this spring. I think there’s a lot of interest in the opening.”
Managers expect it will take about six to seven days for the fleet to reach that harvest target. A second king opening would be held later in the summer to target the remaining troll allocation.
The spring troll season targeting returns of hatchery Chinook was open in April, May and June. Skannes said the number of trollers out fishing and landing kings this spring has been up.
“We’ve had approximately 569 permit holders that have made just over 3900 landings,” she said. “That’s an increase in the number of landings compared to last year by about 13 percent and it’s above the five-year average by 16 percent.”
The spring catch by the final week in June had reached 40,600 kings. That total is made up of both wild stock kings and Alaska hatchery fish, although Skannes said catches of hatchery Chinook were down this year.
“Yeah as far as our Alaska hatchery contributions this year, they are the lowest going back all the way to 1999,” he said. “They’re currently at 21 percent but that’s definitely subject to change as we get additional data.”
Some parts of Southeast saw closures or reduced fishing time in the spring because of the low numbers of hatchery kings.
The spring price for troll caught kings has averaged $8.19 a pound, up $2.86 from last year and better that the five year average by nearly that amount.
Kings have been smaller than in recent years, averaging 11.7 pounds.