Updated: 14 minutes ago Published: 14 minutes ago
As the ice on Alaska’s world-famous lakes and rivers melts, it’s time for many Alaskans to indulge in their favorite summer pastime: fishing. More than 500,000 Alaskans and visitors will purchase sport fishing licenses as they search for salmon, trout, halibut and countless other species in our great state. As a 25-year Alaskan wildlife soldier, I have been a part of many of the state’s sport, personal use, and commercial fisheries from an enforcement standpoint. I have also participated as a statewide fisherman. I have seen the damage that can be done to state fisheries when people violate regulations and fish illegally. This summer, some 80 Alaska Wildlife Troopers will patrol across the state from the waters, trails and skies to protect Alaska’s $15 billion annual fisheries resources.
As you head out on the water this year, here are some tips to help you have a safe, citation-free season:
Learn the regulations. Before you go fishing, get a copy of the fishing regulations for the area in which you plan to fish. These regulations vary from area to area, and it is important that you understand the rules and are able to read the regulations booklet correctly. You can also find fishing regulations online at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website. Many local vendors in your community have a paper copy of these regulations that you can take with you. (Pro tip: pick up a few prints so that when the first one gets wet, you still have a good print to look at.)
Use the proper gear and equipment. Soldiers issue many citations each year for the wrong “terminal equipment.” This is the definition of what you are using at the end of your line. This can include things like treble hooks, single hooks, hook size, and bait. Many areas, both in saltwater and freshwater, have restrictions on these items. If you are not sure what can or cannot be used, contact your local Alaska Wildlife Trooper office. We will be happy to discuss the regulations with you before you go fishing.
Be responsible and courteous. Alaska’s famous fisheries draw people from all over the world to participate in these events. Be courteous to other anglers, be responsible for your actions, and remember that we are all there for the same reason. Each year, Wildlife Troopers responds to multiple complaints about fishermen leaving trash, fish carcasses, and physical altercations with other fishermen. Remember that many rivers and streams are surrounded by private property. Please be respectful of private property rights and know where you are at all times.
Fish legally. Alaska’s fishing regulations follow a complicated process of science, public input, and legal issues. These regulations are well thought out and, if followed, will help ensure that future generations have opportunities to participate in Alaskan fisheries. There is not a single community in Alaska that is not directly affected by fishery resources. By following the rules, you are part of this equation and promote Alaska businesses directly. Businesses such as tackle shops, sport fishing guide businesses, marine supply stores, commercial fishing, and tourism. The value of these fisheries as a food resource to Alaska and the world cannot be underestimated. This requires that rules and regulations be followed to ensure future generations the opportunity to participate in these fisheries.
Wear your life jacket. Several times a year, soldiers and our search and rescue partners respond to capsized boats, boating accidents, and overboard fishermen. Life jackets save lives. If you and your family members are in or near the water this summer, wear your life jacket.
If you meet an Alaska Wildlife Trooper this summer, say hi as they work diligently to protect Alaska’s resources. They have a huge job with significant areas to cover. They often disperse during the summer and may not be able to respond to all reports. If you see a violation, be a good witness and take notes of what you saw. Be specific about things like what car they were driving, the name of the boat, or what they were wearing. The more specific you are, the better the chances that a Wildlife Trooper can find them later and investigate the violation. We rely on the public to help us protect this great resource.
I hope you enjoy the summer fishing season. fish in!
Colonel Bernard Chastain is the Director of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers Division. He has been a member of the Alaska Wildlife Police for 25 years.
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