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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
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    Default King Numbers in South Central AK.

    This post is copied from another I made into general discussions on the forum, I have amended it with some other thoughts that could be helpful as well. The message should be re-titled to; Why I think this is a bad year.

    "I must be alone in certain realizations, things that the new voice of salmon control at the Anchorage office didn't consider. Bear with me on this and research if need be............ King salmon are at the least a 5 year fish, this would mean that from the time an egg is deposited in gravel until that egg has any chance of returning to the natal water as a sexually mature adult salmon is 5 years. There are in fact 6 and 7 year returns but that gene pool has been significantly reduced by sport fishing harvest as they represent the true Trophy fish. So.............

    Five years ago was 2012, 2012 saw 2 things happen that may be of some consequence regarding 2017. First was that it was the second year wherein king salmon returns throughout South Central & Western Alaska experienced what can only be called a crash. Rivers from the Yukon to the Kenai were closed to fishing for kings with the Deshka being the only river to reach its escapement goal for the year. It may be noteworthy to add that the Deshka surpassed the 'minimum' escapement number by 1096 fish. Also notable would be to mention that at a weir all salmon are counted and this would include 'Jacks' of which I personally experienced many in the year 2012.

    To continue with that first occurrence of low abundance I can tell the readers here that I saw a remarkable number of anglers converge on the Deshka in 2012, this due to it being the only river open to fishing for and harvesting king salmon in all of South Central. Since a great deal of the fishing pressure is applied in the open water above the ADF&G weir and not everyone discloses what they caught as part of the 'voluntary' creel survey there is in fact no way to know how many fish were harvested on the Deshka in 2012.

    The 2 rivers mentioned are the only 2 where accurate fish counts are conducted in this part of the state but one can presume that since the Fish Wheels on the Yentna and Susitna Rivers saw very few fish (resulting in the Yentna drainage closure) the low abundance was systemic.

    Now on to the second occurrence of mention. The Flood! Beginning on September 13th 2012 and continuing on past mid October it rained. There was flooding of historic proportion throughout Alaska. It was deemed a 500 year flood and was the cause of widespread damages throughout Alaska.

    Now lets think about those few and precious eggs deposited into gravel substrates by the very few King Salmon who survived all to spawn. By October the eggs are no longer eggs, they are fry and typically salmon fry migrate to the edges of rivers and creeks where they were bore, migrate seeking shelter from currents and larger fish that would eat them........... Now lets take a wild guess that these sheltered edge waters of streams & rivers may have been overflowed in some cases hundreds of feet and yards into natural flood levies and sloughs and often into the surrounding forests.

    I was shocked to learn that there were no precautionary regulations in effect this May as fishing became possible with the ice out. Even to allow harvest on the Tallachulitna which was closed to harvest since 2012! One could only wonder what wisdom beyond my own was at work here. I could still be proven wrong by a huge surge of salmon entering all our rivers but based on what happened in 2012 I wouldn't bet on it.

    I'll let that go now "

    Regarding Pacific Silver Salmon return numbers it will be helpful for you to take a look at the recorded numbers from 2013 in regard to what you may expect this year. Many times we forget that just because we are here or traveling to Alaska that has little to do with what the fishing will be like in any given year. Salmon are fish that from the occurrence of spawning require multiple years before the prodigy of that spawning activity will be realized as adult fish returning to natal waters. Typically the amount of time needed for the egg to be a returning adult would coincide with the numbers listed below.

    King Salmon: 5 year fish with some 6 & 7 year individuals occurring
    Pacific Silver: 4 year fish with some reaching 5 years prior to return
    Chum Salmon: 3 to 5 year fish depending on system origination most returning in 3 - 4
    Pink Salmon: 2 year fish
    Sockeye Salmon: 3 - 5 year fish depending on whether they leave lakes within the first year or 18 months. 4 years seems a good baseline for returns.

    The ADF&G has a website where you can access fish count information and some archived counts as well. Even if the river you intend to visit is not counting look at others in the same region to get a basis for expectations.

    This is not the year for Kings in my region
    Last edited by Ard; 06-24-2017 at 12:07 AM.

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

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