The waters of Kuskokwim River are free of ice and at the moment open to subsistence king salmon fishing, but that could quickly change, depending on how many fisherman are targeting and catching king salmon in a year that managers believe is crucial for viability of the run.
Brian McCaffery, the Acting Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge Manager and the Federal In-Season Manager, says the early season plan had the federal Kuskokwim waters closing to gillnets larger than 4 inches as of a week from Tuesday.
“Right now the game plan is for the 20th, but if it turns out that a lot of people are out there targeting and successfully harvesting kings, we may need to make that date earlier to protect those fish that are trying to get upriver that are trying to get to the spawning grounds further up,” McCaffery said.
He says that there are concerns that the run might be building earlier as it has in other early break up years, but he doesn’t know with any certainty when the run will come in.
That said, Bethel resident Fritz Charles called into KYUK’s Friday Talk Line show and told listeners that the closures are not yet in place, and that it’s “a free for all.”
McCaffery says words like that are disappointing.