It surprises many people across the state that fall is one of the busiest times for Alaska’s fishing industry from the Panhandle to the Bering Sea. As salmon season gets tucked away, hundreds of boats of all gear types are still out on the water, or gearing up for even more openers in just a few weeks.
Here’s a sampler:
Longliners have taken 82 percent of their 17 million pound halibut catch quota with three million pounds left to go by the November 7 close of that eight month fishery. Homer, which bills itself as the nation’s top halibut port, is being out-landed by Kodiak by just a few thousand pounds.
Longline fleets also are targeting a 20.3 million pound sablefish (black cod) catch.
Scallopers are still dropping dredges around Yakutat and in other parts of the Gulf and Bering Sea.
Lingcod fisheries are ongoing in parts of the Gulf, primarily by small boats using jig and hand troll gear.
Trawlers are targeting pollock and other groundfish in both the Bering Sea and the Gulf. And tons of cod fish are crossing the docks with September 1 openers for longline gear and pot boats.
Southeast’s summer Chinook fishery closed to trollers on September 3; the winter troll fishery will reopen in early October.
Crabbers will be back out on the water for the October 1 start of the fall Dungeness fishery. The summer dungie season that ended in mid-August produced a two million pound catch valued at $6 million at the Southeast docks.
October also marks the start of Alaska’s premiere shrimp fishery – big spots from the Panhandle. Pots will haul in more than a half million pounds of spot shrimp during that opener. Beam trawling for pink and coon stripe shrimp also is ongoing in several Southeast regions.
Hundreds of divers will head down for sea cucumbers and urchins in October. More than one million pounds of sea cukes are usually taken in Southeast waters, with smaller takes around Kodiak Island, and the price often tops $3 a pound.
Hundreds of big ‘7 by’ crab pots are stacked to the sky at Dutch Harbor and Kodiak in readiness for the start of the Bering Sea crab fisheries which get underway on October 15