Another strong run of reds this year for the Afognak River drainage prompted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wednesday to increase the bag and possession limits from five to 10 sockeye salmon as an incentive for sport fishermen to help avoid over-escapement in that system.
Fish and Game sport fish biologist Donn Tracy said the system had already met its lower escapement goal after registering 26,700 reds through the weir and the department was projecting that the upper escapement goal of 50,000 sockeye would be exceeded.
“That’s the basis for the liberalized bag limit,” he said.
By this time last year, 34,000 reds had been counted, Tracy said, and the season saw an over-escapement of sockeye for Afognak Lake.
“Last year was a very strong run and we did the same thing,” Tracy said.
The sockeye run in the Afognak River was depressed for almost a decade, Tracy said, but the last few years have had good escapements. Last year was an outstanding year by historical standards, he said.
The Afognak River bag limit increase doesn’t affect chinook (king) salmon and applies to sockeye salmon 20 inches long or longer.
Commercial fishing in the area is also compensating to take advantage of the plentiful sockeyes, Tracy said.