Sitka Management Area
Mixed stocks of king salmon inhabiting the outer coast near Sitka support the largest recreational marine fishery for this species in Alaska. This popular fishery is highlighted during the Sitka Salmon Derby over Memorial Day weekend and the following weekend. Hatchery contributions account for nearly half of the harvest, of which Alaska hatcheries contribute about 16%. In 1998, king salmon harvested near Sitka comprised about one half of all the kings harvested in Southeast Alaska's marine sport fisheries. Freshwater drainages in the Sitka area are closed to king salmon fishing.
Sitka is also home to one of Alaska's largest recreational marine coho salmon fisheries. Alaska hatcheries, primarily local hatcheries on Baranof Island, contribute about 20% of the marine coho harvest, while non-Alaska hatchery contributions are few. Recreational harvests of coho salmon increased substantially beginning in 1994, and 39,000 coho were harvested in 1997. Numerous coastal streams support smaller fresh water sport fisheries for this species as well.
Halibut and, to a lesser extent, lingcod and rockfish along the outer coast of Baranof and Chichagof Islands support one of the state's largest recreational groundfish fisheries. In 1997, over 23,200 halibut, 7,100 lingcod and 13,800 rockfish were taken in the Sitka area. In 1998, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council approved the Sitka Local Area Management Plan to address growing concerns over localized depletion of halibut in Sitka Sound. The plan will likely be implemented in 1999, and now serves as a prototype for the development of similar plans in other areas of Alaska.
Cutthroat trout are found in most lake systems in the Sitka area. This species supports popular fisheries in the Sitkoh, Eva and Baranof Lake drainages and smaller fisheries in a number of lakes throughout the area. Natural and established rainbow trout populations occur in many lake systems and provide for small remote and roadside fisheries. Popular rainbow fisheries occur at Blue Lake near Sitka and at remote lakes such as Davidof and Rezanof Lake on Baranof Island.
Steelhead trout return in small numbers to many coastal streams, but some lake systems support larger spawning runs in the spring. Sitkoh Lake on Chichagof Island supports the largest steelhead fishery in the area. New Southeast Alaska regulations prohibiting harvests of steelhead less than 36 inches in length have made this primarily a catch-and-release fishery.
Dolly Varden can be found in nearly all freshwater systems in the Sitka area during fall, winter and spring. This species supports targeted fisheries in some streams and they are taken incidentally in many systems that support other species. Anadromous Dolly Varden are also targeted in estuaries, along shoreline areas and in marine waters during seaward and return migrations. Populations of Dolly Varden in Katlian and Nakwasina Rivers and in the more remote Lake Eva system provide popular sport fisheries.