The mystery of Alaska's missing kings

Alaskans are painfully aware of the recent downturn in king salmon populations on many of our streams. There have, fortunately, been a few glimmers of hope when it comes to this iconic symbol of Alaska. For instance, there was a better than expected return to the Yukon River, which saw the largest number of chinook since 2005. The Kenai River, though still not seeing the large-sized fish the river is famous for, did see adequate returns in both its early and late runs.

Still, the number of chinook salmon in most parts of the state remain alarmingly low, which prompted fishing for them in many areas, including throughout all of Southeast Alaska, to be closed.

With this in mind, Trout Unlimited Alaska is planning to host a chinook salmon panel, scheduled for Oct. 17, at 49th State Brewery in Anchorage. We are hoping this will be an opportunity for the average Alaskan to sort out what trends have been occurring with regard to king salmon in recent years, to learn from the experts, and to see what we all might do in the future to retain this mainstay of Alaskan fishing.

While still in the planning stages, we are hoping to live-stream or pod-cast the event. Topics will include: The Board of Fish process and how it works, a look at how chinook populations around the state are faring, as well as what research is currently underway and what new research might be introduced or needed.

Panel members will include: Ed Jones, ADF&G Chinook Salmon Research Initiative Coordinator; Dr. Megan McPhee, University of Alaska, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences; and Robert Ruffner, Alaska Board of Fish member. There will also be other members of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff on hand, and ample time for questions from the audience.

There will be more information on this event in the near future.

— Dave Atcheson

By Chris Hunt.