June 20, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 24

King salmon catches climb, for a week

King salmon fishing improved dramatically the week after the annual King Salmon Derby, according to state biologists.

According to Alaska Department of Fish and Game sportfish biologist Rich Chapell, catch rates improved to 20 hours per king during the week of June 3-9, compared to 89 hours per fish the previous week. The derby ended June 2.

“We had our best catch rates of the year,” Chapell said. “There was quite a bit of effort that week,” although not as much as during the derby. “We started seeing more larger, mature-looking fish.”

Curiously, catch rates dropped back to 150 rod hours per king during June 10-16. Chapell said the decrease may have been due to clouding in the water resulting from hot weather that has flooded rivers or from other bait moving into the area.

“It was a pretty sudden drop-off. It’s a little disappointing. We wish the fishing would have stayed good a longer time,” Chapell said.

High water also has prompted the agency to shut down riverside fish wheels used to help determine numbers of fish escaping into the river.

“This is a pretty major high-water event. We’re still (drift) fishing the net (to gauge escapement), but with so much water in the river, our efficiency goes down,” Chapell said.

Tracking with results from previous years, fishing in Taiya Inlet improved June 10-16 to 15 rod hours. Fish returning there include hatchery-raised ones heading to Pullen Creek and ones from other areas.

An estimate of the total king harvest should be available by mid-July, Chapell said.