Fishing Report: Derby fever, updated emergency orders

Fishing Report: Derby fever, updated emergency orders
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 4:33 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As if one would need any more incentive to cast a line in the fresh Alaskan waters, fish derbies across the state often offer cash and other prizes while raising money for continued access to our unmatched fishing opportunities.

The 77th annual Golden North Salmon Derby in Juneau was held from Aug. 11-13, with proceeds given to the Territorial Sportsmen Scholarship Foundation, which has awarded 337 scholarships totaling over $2 million since 1953. Dylan Kubley slayed a 24.4-pound king salmon at 10:15 a.m. on the final day of the derby for the top spot, more than three pounds heavier than second place.

The 68th-annual Silver Salmon Derby began Aug. 12 and will run until noon Aug. 20, with the heaviest fish receiving $10,000 plus the weight of their fish in Kaladi Brothers Coffee. As of publishing, Timothy Kain has the top spot at 13.98 pounds caught on Aug. 16.

The popular Valdez Fish Derbies are active now through Sept. 3. As of Aug. 17, Fairbanks’ LaVonne Baysinger has reeled in the heaviest silver at 14.54 pounds, while Lacey, Washington’s Jim Jack has a hefty lead in the Halibut Derby after hauling in a 252-pounder at the end of July. The derby that began in 1952 offers a $10,000 cash prize to the top halibut and to the top silver each year.

No matter where you’re fishing, it is important to stay updated on the latest regulations and emergency orders. Recent salmon fishing closures include Jim Creek, as well as coho retention at the Little Susitna and Deshka rivers through Sept. 30.

“The run of coho salmon to Jim Creek appears to be weak as indicated by low daily weir counts, low overall fishing success, and observations by staff,” Palmer Area Management Biologist Sam Ivey said of Jim Creek. “The remaining run must be conserved in order to achieve the escapement goal for this system.”

“Further evaluation of run size based on daily weir counts and observations by staff indicate more stringent action be taken to conserve coho salmon returning to the Little Susitna River,” Ivey said of the Little Susitna River. “As of August 15, only 3,445 coho salmon had passed upstream of the weir and the escapement is projected to be 5,300 fish. fish. Therefore, it is warranted to conserve the remaining coho salmon returning to the Little Susitna River to ensure achievement of the escapement goal.”

However, coho salmon limits have increased to six per day and six in possession at Ship Creek through the end of the calendar year.

“With the anticipation of meeting hatchery needs due to the number of coho salmon in the creek above the fishery, it is warranted to increase the bag and possession limits to allow anglers to harvest the surplus fish,” Area Management Biologist Brittany Blain-Roth said.

Currently, it is estimated that over 1,184 coho salmon have made it above the sport fishery with fish still entering Ship Creek. This will fulfill the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery coho salmon broodstock goal and natural spawning requirements for Ship Creek, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

ADF&G also extended the prohibition of bait and multiple hooks in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to the ADF&G marker at the outlet of Skilak Lake through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 31. Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures are allowed.

“Projections for late-run Kenai River king salmon are not likely to meet the optimal escapement goal and it is necessary to extend the restriction of bait and multiple hooks to reduce mortality of incidentally caught king salmon that spawn throughout the lower and middle river. Coho salmon can be caught on a variety of spoons and lures in the Kenai River,” Acting Area Management Biologist Jenny Gates said.

The latest Alaska Department of Fish and Game emergency orders and press releases can be found here.

Don’t forget to submit your “Fish Frames” at Any type of fishing, anywhere in Alaska, we want to see it!