(Freshwater and Marine Image Bank image from Wikimedia Commons)

Commercial salmon trollers in Southeast have their first king opening of the summer season starting on Saturday.

For the summer season, the fleet has an allocation of 90,000 Chinook managed under the Pacific Salmon Treaty. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is seeking to target 70 percent of that, or 63,000.

Grant Hagerman is the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s troll management biologist for Southeast. He said the department expects the opening to run six or seven days.

“Really the first couple days is a large indicator of the abundance of fish,” he said. “There’s typically a build-up of fish that happen. You know those first couple days, those fish are there and catch rates just tend to drop, there’s what we call kind of a fish-down effect. So we’re just hoping that the fleet stays in contact with us, we get some landing information and just find out how steep that fish-down effect is and if we are seeing truly a reduced abundance of fish by day two, day three as those fish get caught up.”

Because of low king abundance, the overall troll allocation for combined winter, spring and summer seasons about 100,000 fish less than last year.

Trollers catch a mix of hatchery and wild-stock kings that originate in Alaska, British Columbia and Pacific Northwest states. The allocation for Treaty kings do not include fish that come from hatcheries.

The troll fleet will get more of a chance to keep those hatchery Chinook later this summer, sometime after the first opening. It’s called a mark-select fishery, where Fish and Game permits trollers to keep kings that are missing their adipose fin, a mark of a hatchery fish.

“So the mark-select fishery, basically it’s designed to allow them to harvest those surplus hatchery fish that are adipose clipped at a time when they normally would be shaking those fish and just targeting cohos,” he said. “So this is just an opportunity to take advantage of those fish that are around.”

Hagerman says that fishery should open sometime before August.

Something new this year: The waters in northern Lynn Canal are closed to commercial trolling for the entire summer season. That’s to protect kings returning to the Chilkat River near Haines.

Thanks to Joe Viechnicki/KFSK for this news story. You can find the original story here.