Mat-Su taking big hit with ‘no-salmon-for-you’ surprise decision



Weak king salmon runs in recent years led the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to drastically cut sport fishing in Southcentral Alaska, and limit some commercial king salmon fishing in upper Cook Inlet.

The emergency orders went out today and are in effect May 1 through July 13.

The measure is expected to take a toll on the summer economy of the Mat-Su, where sport fishing is a big draw both for guiding companies, which are small businesses, and for residents trying to put food on the table.

The measure comes just days after Gov. Bill Walker appointed a Kodiak commercial fishing representative to replace a sport fishing representative from Anchorage on the Alaska Board of Fisheries, another slap at Southcentral fishing enthusiasts and families trying to “eat local.”

[Read: Board of Fisheries appointment cuts out Anchorage anglers, dip-netters]


King salmon sport fishing in the Susitna River drainage and Little Susitna River drainageis being cut, as is king salmon commercial fishing in the Northern district of the Upper Cook Inlet. Catch-and-release king salmon fishing will be allowed on the Deshka River drainage and Yentna River drainage.

In the Little Susitna River drainage, anglers can keep king salmon caught only on Friday through Mondays.

Commercial king salmon setnetters will also face closures in northern part of upper Cook Inlet, which will close May 28, and June 4, 11, and 18.

Reps. Mark Neuman, Cathy Tilton, David Eastman, DeLena Johnson, George Rauscher, Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, and Sen. Mike Shower, as well as Sen. Shelley Hughes and Sen. David Wilson signed letters that they sent to ADF&G Commissioner Sam Cotten, requesting him to delay and reconsider what they consider to be a devastating decision.


According to the website, the Palmer ADF&G office had suggested alternative measures to those up the food chain in the commissioner’s office, including:

  • Closing the east side Parks Highway streams to king salmon fishing, including Talkeetna and Chulitna drainages. The Parks Highway streams would remain open to fishing for other species other than king salmon including the portions of the streams below the Parks Highway bridges.
  • Keeping the Deshka River open to king salmon fishing but with no bait, artificial single hook restrictions, and an adjusted annual limit of two king salmon. Run assessment and possible closure decision would be made later, on June 12.
  • Keeping the  Little Susitna River open seven days a week with normal regulations except an adjusted annual limit of two king salmon. Run assessment and possible closure decisions to be made in June.
  • Keeping Lake Creek on the Yentna River open to retention of king salmon four days a week with normal regulations except an adjusted annual limit of two king salmon. Run assessment and possible closure decisions to be made in June.

“The glaring question is then, why is their (Palmer ADF&G’s) carefully thought out proposal being overturned by the administration in Anchorage? What data does The Commissioner have that the area biologists and area managers do not?,” Fight4Fish’s website posted in response to the emergency order.

“This makes it very difficult not to think there is something else behind this radical decision to override the Palmer office proposal.”


  1. More Bullying from Bully Bill because our Mat-Su delegation will not bow down. I’m sure my fellow valley trash neighbors are so intimidated by Sam Cotton that we will call all the valley delegation members and plead with them to give “Mr. Bill” anything he wants. Yeah, you betcha.

  2. So you all know that the real problem with the Susitna drainage for ALL species of salmon is the northern Pike. USF&W and ADFG bothe designate Pike as the number 1 user of Susitna salmon. Do I ever see it mentioned in these rants and articles? Nope., it’s always bad management by ADFG, political gaming by the Governor, those bad commercial fishermen…..but never the real problem. Did you know that there is a published, realistic timeline for the extinction of the sockeye in the Susitna if nothing changes? Those lakes and that habitat is the same place the Coho and Kings live. How about we accept reality, quit pointing fingers where we all know the problem isn’t and pool all of our resources and energy to rid or at least manage the pike. There are millions of dollars in federal dollars to deal with invasive species. How about a commercial fishery, maybe a bounty.. lets team up and fix the problem ADFg with play as will the feds.

  3. Commercial trawlers bycatch is not even mentioned. The fish stocks in these rivers have been in decline for years. Over fishing in the oceans, mouths to the rivers, and in the rivers and spawning grounds. More fishermen less fish. Even restricting the sport fisheries will not stop the decline. As long as the offshore trawlers catch millions of tons of salmon as bycatch, with no penalty, and then the commercial fisheries catching the majority of returning stocks, recovery will never happen!

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