Southeast Alaska Fishing Regulations
2019 Fishing Regulations
It’s pretty easy to take fishing regulations and bag limits negatively, especially for folks that are on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Alaska. It can be a real bummer hooking into your first king salmon and throwing it back because it’s an inch too small, or bringing on board a 50 pound halibut and releasing it because it’s too large. Trust us, in the short-term the guides like turning them loose even less than the clients, but for anyone that depends on a sustainable fishery for their livelihood there really isn’t any debate. Allowing the breeders to do their thing ensures our children will be able to enjoy the same experiences we are.
Below we have the main species you’ll target while sport fishing in Ketchikan, along with captain Tony Moucha’s thoughts on what 2019 will look like for each. If you’d like to dig a little deeper, we’ve linked the entire Alaska Department of Fish & Game regulation book at the bottom.
Different times of the year calls for different kinds of salmon fishing. From early spring time to early summer, the king salmon have started migrating through the area. This past year, our king salmon fishery was closed in certain areas to protect the resource; even though the king salmon is a prized fish to many people, I personally believe that it was a great idea to have some closures. There will still be kings around even when this year’s closure opens up in the middle of June. The projected numbers for king salmon returning in our area is going to be on the rise in the next few years. There is some good news about salmon this year, however. We are projected to have a TRIPLED return this year on summer coho salmon and a near DOUBLED return on fall coho salmon. This summer should be action packed as far as salmon fishing goes. We should start seeing the summer coho salmon towards the end of June and the fall coho salmon in August. Don’t forget about the pink salmon and chum salmon! Even though these two salmon species aren’t the most sought after fish, they still make a great table fare and are often caught when targeting either coho or kings. These two species should be showing up in July and fished for until end of August. We don’t get many sockeye salmon around here to specifically try and target.
King- No retention prior to June 15. Limits to be announced for post-6/15 period.
Coho, pink, chum, sockeye- 6 per day (each species), 16 inch minimum
Coho, pink, chum, sockeye- 10 per day (in combination), less than 16 inches
Best fishing is from June-August, but we have been productive in the April, May, Sept, and Oct months as well. The reason that mid-summer is the best fishing is because of their migration from winter spawning grounds to summer feeding grounds.
We have big news for our 2021-fishing season: they have increased the size limit on the halibut you’re allowed to keep! The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) has just announced the lower slot limit will now be increased to 50 inches for the entire 2021 season, allowing anglers to keep one halibut under 50 inches or over 72 inches each day. This is quite a significant jump from 2019s regulations of 38 inches, approximately 25-pounds, to 50 inches, approximately 60-pounds, allowing guests to keep halibut up to 35-pounds heavier! The time is now to start planning your fishing trip!.
Halibut- 1 per day on charter vessel,one halibut under 50 inches or over 72 inches each day.
Where there are rockfish, there is a high possibility of catching a ling. They both like to hang out around rock piles/pinnacles/shelves mixed in with some kelp at times. The lingcod is a predator fish that is a fun fight and can sometimes surprise people by being latched on to a rockfish when reeling in! Hitchhiking at its finest. The lingcod is said to be some of the best tasting meat in our waters. The season opens on May 16th.
Lingcod- 1 daily, 30-45 inches or over 55 inches, annual limit is 2. (1 of which is between 30-45 and the other is over 55.)
The rockfish is a family of fish formed by multiple species and can be, without a doubt, some of the best fishing. If there is anybody on the boat that requires a lot of action to stay interested (especially kids), fishing for rockfish could easily suit them. Even though you are only allowed a limit of one “slope rockfish” species, the “pelagic” species limit is five; we typically target the “pelagic” and end up with our one “slope rockfish” along the way. Fishing with light rods and jigs will make even these smaller fish one heck of a fight. We typically try to fish anywhere from 30 ft- 300 ft. You can fish all season long with excellent success rates. *There is no retention of Demersal Shelf Rockfish. This includes the Yelloweye Rockfish.
Pelagic Rockfish - 5 daily, no size limit
Slope Rockfish - 1 daily, no size limit
Demersal Shelf Rockfish - no retention. This includes the yelloweye rockfish.
Fresh Water Regulations
STEELHEAD, CUTTHROAT, RAINBOW, DOLLY VARDEN, BROOK TROUT, ARCTIC GREYLING
Freshwater fishing regulations in southeast Alaska can be a complicated subject with thousands of fisheries and several species to choose from. The Alaska Game and Fish has divided the freshwater regulations into two main categories, "General" and "Special". Special regulations refer to named bodies of water, with general regulations referring to everything NOT named in the special regulations. Its very important for all fisherman to thoroughly read and understand the regulations for the species and bodies of water to which they will be fishing.
With multiple species (including yelloweye or “Red Snapper”) being combined into one category, the rockfish can be, without a doubt, some of best fishing. If there is anybody on the boat that requires a lot of action to stay interested (especially kids), fishing for rockfish could easily suit them. Even though you are only allowed a limit of one non-pelagic species, the pelagic species limit is five; we typically target the pelagics and end up with our one non-pelagic along the way. Fishing with light rods and jigs will make even these smaller fish one heck of a fight. We typically try to fish anywhere from 30 ft- 300 ft. You can fish all season long with great success rates.