The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has increased bag limits on coho salmon in the Olds, Pasagshak and American rivers, even as bag limits decrease in all other rivers on Kodiak’s road system.
While bag limits decrease to one per day in most rivers on the road system, the Department of Fish and Game is allowing Olds, Pasagshak and American Rivers to retain the two-bag limit because of a decrease in anglers this year.
“Coho salmon returns to the Kodiak Road System are strong this season, and the Pasagshak, Olds,, and American are among the larger runs,” said Area Management Biologist Tyler Polum in a department press release.
“In light of current surveys and the low harvest anticipated due to reduced fishing effort this season, it’s warranted to allow increased harvest opportunity for coho salmon in these drainages.”
The regulatory change is effective from midnight on Sept. 16 until Dec. 31.
Drone and foot surveys on the three river drainages showed that coho salmon escapement — the fish that escape harvesting — was well above escapement goals of 1,200 fish in the Pasagshak River, 500 fish in the Olds River and 400 fish in the American River.
“With reduced travel to the island and the resulting reduced fishing effort, it is anticipated that the goals will be exceeded even with harvest through the end of the year,” said the press release.
Typically, 90% of the charter fishing in Kodiak consist of off-island residents, but with the decline of guided fishing because of pandemic-related travel restrictions, many of the rivers have seen fewer off-island anglers. Polum estimates that the road system has had less than half of the typical number of sportfish anglers than previous summers.
While there are still some pink salmon in the rivers, this time of year is the peak of coho salmon season.
Polum said that coho salmon this season have been larger than average years.
The average size for a coho salmon found in the Buskin River is about 8 or 9 pounds. The size varies from river to river and year to year, and typically depends on ocean conditions. If ocean conditions are poor, the fish tend to be smaller.