Board of Fish OKs changes to king salmon, rockfish regs

The State Board of Fisheries met in Homer last month

The State Board of Fisheries met in Homer last month and adopted proposals that impact sport fishing regulation for Lower Cook Inlet. Changes seek increased protection for king salmon in a variety of Lower Cook Inlet fisheries, a reduced bag limit for rockfish, and increased opportunity for surf casting and China Poot dipnetting.

According to a press release by the State Department of Fish and Game, the new regulations will take effect when the “2024 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary” is published in the spring.

The bag limit for rockfish in Cook Inlet and the North Gulf Coast salt waters will be reduced to three per day and six in possession, of which only one per day and two in possession may be nonpelagic.

In Cook Inlet, the bag limit for lingcod will be reduced to one per day and two in possession, and a guideline harvest level for the Cook Inlet Winter Salt Water King Salmon Sport Fishery was modified to 5,500.

The guideline harvest level is an increase from 4,500, according to the proposal by the department that sought to change it. The release says that if that limit is “expected to be exceeded,” then retention of king salmon fewer than 20 inches in length will be prohibited in that fishery.

Similarly, a guideline harvest level was newly adopted for the Lower Cook Inlet Summer Salt Water King Salmon Fishery, at 8,500 king salmon.

A management plan for king salmon fisheries in Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River was adopted. The release says it identifies management actions that will look similar to those taken via emergency order in “12 of the last 15 years.” No harvest will be allowed in Anchor River and Deep Creek unless projections indicate the run will exceed “the midpoint of the sustainable escapement goal.” Both streams will be closed if projects fall below the lower end of the same goal, while catch and release will be permitted if projections fall between those two points.

The Ninilchik River, according to the release, was separated from Anchor and Deep Rivers in the plan to allow harvest of hatchery king salmon. The bag limit for hatchery kings, identifiable by their missing adipose fin, is increased to two. Retention of wild king salmon is closed.

A proposal to the board penned by John Bithos sought to allow surf casting at the mouth of Ninilchik River and in Deep Creek River. The board, according to the release, chose to allow fishing from shore for species other than king salmon in “the conservation zones surrounding the lower Kenai Peninsula roadside stream mouths.” The zones will remain closed to fishing for kings and all sport fishing from a boat.

Snagging and spear fishing in Seldovia Harbor, slough and lagoon will be closed from Jan. 1 to June 23.

The China Poot personal use dipnet fishery is extended to begin on June 15 and end on Aug. 14.

For more information, including full recordings of board deliberations in Homer last month, visit

Reach reporter Jake Dye at