Subsistence fishermen say they’re willing to back off the kings, but they want to be able to get their chums.
Both Chinook and chum salmon are starting to swim up the Yukon River, but with the worst king run on record expected this year, Fish and Game officials are implementing tight restrictions that subsistence users say are keeping them from getting chums.
“We do not want to be handling Chinook salmon unnecessarily when we have such a low run, and we’re concerned for the Chinook run, and we have some pretty big closures on subsistence,” Fish & Game biologist Eric Newland said during the first in-season management call Wednesday. “We don’t want to kill any more kings than we need to.”
As of Monday, the northern Costal district and districts one through three — from the mouth of the Yukon to just north of Holy Cross — are closed to gillnets with mesh sizes bigger than 4 inches. Dipnets are also prohibited — for now. Fish & Game biologists say it’s to avoid Chinook bycatch, but many fishermen say it’s keeping them from catching anything at all.