Captain Tom’s Thoughts on 2017’s Salmon Regulations
After a couple years of unusually high king salmon abundance, kings are at a level we’d call a low normal with an abundance index (AI) of 1.27. We’ve seen the AI higher and we’ve seen it lower. After decades of experience, we can tell you two things.
- The regulations are directly related to the AI.
- The quality of the fishing is not related to the AI. In the past two years we’ve seen decent but not extraordinary king fishing under a very high AI. In other years with a lower AI, we’ve seen lights out fishing.
This year’s limits:
- Daily Bag Limit: 1 king per person
- Annual Limit: 3 kings per person
Explanation: The best way to manage fish is to link harvest levels to forecast abundance levels – better known as abundance based management. The AI is a number used to estimate abundance, but it’s far from precise. Still, it’s the currently accepted best method and used to set harvest regulations. The number of kings available to both sport and commercial harvest are regulated by the AI. The lower AI for 2017 results in tighter limits for sport fishermen as well as substantially decreased quotas for the commercial fleet.
The reasons why the AI doesn’t directly correlate to the quality of the fishing are many. First and foremost, the number isn’t always spot on, meaning there may be more fish out there than we’ve guessed. Also, with the sport and commercial harvests cut way back, fewer fish are taken out of the ocean leaving more to bite your herring. Lastly, these fish concentrate in areas of high ocean productivity. Sitka happens to be in a sweet spot in the ocean and we see a lot of kings regardless of the AI.
Experience: This is our 25th year operating in Sitka and we’ve seen 30 seasons of king fishing that has ranged from good to lights out regardless of forecasts. We expect the same for 2017. We also know where to find these fish. If they aren’t everywhere, they’re still somewhere and we’ll find them.
Expectations: The kings will arrive in early to mid-May and remain until the middle of August. The king fishing will be the best you can find anywhere in the North Pacific. The scenery will be spectacular, the wildlife inspiring, and the experience like nothing you can find in the “civilized” world. Fishing the salt water wilderness of Southeast Alaska remains an experience like no other, one that lives with you long after you’ve returned home.
– Captain Tom Ohaus