For those fisher-people eager to break out their fishing gear for this season or for the first time, here is the low-down on fishing in Southcentral. From where to find specific species of fish, to the conditions one can expect on the local rivers, lakes, and streams, here is your guide to fishing Southcentral this Memorial Day weekend.

Regulations

First things first, we start with the fishing license. For those seasoned Alaskan fisherwomen and fishermen, you can read ahead. In Alaska, sport fishing licenses are required for residents age 18 and older. The cost of an annual license for an Alaska resident is $29. Nonresidents age 16 and older must purchase a sport fishing license. Prices for non-resident licenses begin at $25 for a one-day license and go up to $145 for an annual sport fishing license. Nonresident active-duty military stationed in Alaska may purchase a license at the same rate as an Alaska resident. Licenses may be purchased online here

Very important: You must remember to ALWAYS check current regulations before you head out fishing. There are different regulations across Southcentral depending on the type of fish and the location in which you want to fish. This includes closures, tackle restrictions and specifications. You can view the sport fishing regulations here.  

Where to Fish

Southcentral is divided into eight geographic zones for fishing by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Here are the details on what to expect across southcentral. Area report provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Anchorage

Type of fishing: Freshwater

Types of Fish: Salmon, Trout Dolly Varden, Grayling, Northern Pike

Specials Notes: Ship Creek is currently open to salmon fishing from the mouth to a cable 100 feet below the Chugach Power Plant Dam. The remainder of the creek up to 300 feet above the Elmendorf Power Plant Dam, near the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery, is CLOSED YEAR ROUND to ALL fishing.

Mat-Su/West Cook Inlet

Type of fishing: Freshwater

Types of Fish: Salmon, Trout Dolly Varden, Grayling, Northern Pike

Specials Notes: Sport fishing for king salmon (of any size) is open to catch-and-release in the Deshka and Yentna rivers. Sport fishing for king salmon is closed in the remainder of the Susitna River drainage.

Northern Kenai Peninsula

Type of fishing: Freshwater

Types of Fish: Salmon

Specials Notes: Per Emergency Order No. 2-DV-1-04-18, effective January 1, 2018, the retention of Arctic char/Dolly Varden is prohibited in Stormy Lake to continue the restoration of native fish stocks.

Per Emergency Order No. 2-NP-1-03-18, effective January 1, 2018, in Soldotna Creek Drainage Lakes sport fishing will be permitted at East and West Mackey, Sevena, Union, and Derks lakes; however, the retention of all species of fish is prohibited at these lakes.

Southern Kenai Peninsula

Type of fishing: Saltwater

Types of Fish: Halibut, King Salmon

Specials Notes: Steelhead trout are present in Lower Cook Inlet streams in the spring. Be familiar with identifying steelhead and king salmon before you go fishing. Steelhead may never be retained or removed from the water.

Bristol Bay

Type of fishing: Freshwater and Saltwater

Types of Fish:

Freshwater: King Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic Grayling

Saltwater: Halibut

Specials Notes: All rivers and most lakes are now ice-free.

Kodiak Aleutian Islands

Type of fishing: Freshwater and Saltwater

Types of Fish:

Freshwater: Salmon, Trout, Dolly Varden

Saltwater: Halibut, Salmon, Black Rockfish

Specials Notes: Per Emergency Order No. 2-KS-4-06-18, effective June 1, 2018, in the Ayakulik River drainage, king salmon fishing is restricted to catch and release. All king salmon caught must be released without being removed from the water. In addition, the use of bait is prohibited and only one unbaited, single-hook artificial lures may be used.

Seward, Resurrection Bay, North Gulf Coast

Type of fishing: Saltwater and Freshwater

Types of Fish:

Saltwater: Halibut, Salmon, Rockfish, Lingcod, Shellfish

Freshwater: Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic Grayling, Northern Pike

Specials Notes: The personal use season for shrimp fishing with pot gear in North Gulf Coast area waters opened on April 15. A North Gulf Coast shrimp permit is required to participate in this fishery. This permit is different than the Prince William Sound Shrimp Permit and is NOT available online.
Lingcod fishing is CLOSED until July 1.

Prince William Sound

Type of fishing: Freshwater and Saltwater

Types of Fish:

Freshwater: Salmon, Trout, Dolly Varden, Grayling

Saltwater: Salmon, Halibut, Lingcod, Rockfish, Shellfish

Specials Notes: Lingcod season is closed until July 1 to protect nest-guarding males.

Cutthroat and Rainbow/Steelhead trout fishing is closed through June 14.

Ibeck Creek is closed to all sport fishing upstream from a point 3 miles above the Copper River Highway.

Cordova Terminal harvest area is closed to snagging June 1 to September 30.

Eyak Lake is closed to salmon fishing.

The lingcod bag and possession limit is now 1 per day and 1 in possession.

The year-round rockfish regulation in Prince William Sound is a bag limit of 4 fish per day and possession limit of 8 fish, of which only 1 fish can be a nonpelagic rockfish.

The bag and possession limit of nonpelagic rockfish has changed to 1 in your bag limit and only 1 in your possession. The requirement to retain the first nonpelagic rockfish is no longer in regulation.

Effective January 2020, the use of a deep-water release mechanism will be required to be onboard all vessels sport fishing in the Prince William Sound Management Area and they must be used to release rockfish at depth of capture or 100 feet, whichever is shallower.

Summary

This is not the prime-time for fishing. But, there are fish to be caught. Plus, it’s always great to get outdoors. Be safe and have a great weekend.

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