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Use these fishing Rules and Regulations as a guide only (it's up to you to know the law!)...
This is an informative summary of Sportfishing regulations contained in 5 AAC 56, 58,61 and 75, simplified for your convenience. If clarification is needed, consult an Alaska Department of Fish and Game representative.
Fishing Information Contact Numbers
License Requirements & Fees
Fishing Method & Means
Shellfish Method & Means
Closed Waters & Prohibited Acts
Trophy Fish Program
Definitions of Terms Used
Fishing Information Contact Numbers
Department of Fish & Game Offices:
Recorded fishing information: The department provides recorded messages to the public about fishing opportunities and in season changes in regulations. Numbers for recorded messages are:
The regulations summarized here are effective from about mid-April 1996 through mid-April 1997. Some regulations appearing here may be changed by the Alaska Board of Fisheries during its regular meetings, by emergency regulation, or by emergency order at any time. Changes to regulations are available at ADF&G offices. Copies are available at any ADF&G office.
Fishing License Requirements
Fishing Licenses - Available: Sportfishing licenses are available at many retail stores in the state and we suggest you wait until you get here before buying one.
Fishing License - Required: A Sportfishing license is required annually (each calendar year) and must be in the possession of ail persons 16 years of age or older (see following special exemption) while Sportfishing, personal use fishing, and/or digging clams. A Sportfishing license is not required of a resident who is 60 years of age or older; a special permanent identification card is distributed by the ADF&G Licensing Section.
NOTE: A resident is a person who for the preceding 12 consecutive months has maintained a permanent place of abode and voting residence in the state.
Methods & Means
Sportfishing gear: Unless otherwise provided in the regulations, Sportfishing may be conducted only by use of a single line having attached to it not more than one plug, spoon, spinner, or series of spinners, or two flies, or two hooks. The line must be closely attended.
Ice fishing gear: Sportfishing through the ice is permitted with the use of two lines, provided only one hook or artificial lure is used on each line.
Freshwater Sportfishing: (a) Fish may not be taken in fresh water by means of: (1) fixed or weighted hooks and lures (except those of standard manufacture); (2) multiple hooks with gap between point and shank larger than 1/2 inch; except as permitted in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim area; (3) spear, unless permitted by the area regulations; (4) arrow, unless permitted by area regulations; (b) live fish may not be used as bait when Sportfishing in fresh water; and (c) it is unlawful to intentionally snag any fish in fresh water. Fish unintentionally hooked elsewhere than in the mouth must be released immediately.
Gear for single-hook waters: (a) In water designated as single-hook waters, Sportfishing is permitted only as follows: (1) with not more than one single hook with gap between point and shank 1/2 inch or less; (2) hooks and lures (including those of standard manufacture) may not have additional weight attached to them; weights may be used only ahead of the hook or lure; and (b) multiple hooks are prohibited in waters designated as single-hook waters.
Gear for fly-fishing-only waters: In waters designated as fly-fishing only waters Sportfishing is permitted only as follows: (1) with not more than one unweighted, single-hook fly with gap between point and shank 3/8 or less; (2) weights may be used 18 inches or more ahead of the fly.
Sportfishing gear for herring and smelt: In salt water, herring and smelt may be taken with the use of 15 or less unbaited hooks attached to a single line.
Sportfishing gear for burbot: Unless otherwise provided by area regulations, burbot may be taken in freshwater with more than one line and hook, provided: (1) the total aggregate number of hooks may not exceed 15 or the daily bag limit for burbot in the waters being fished, whichever is less; (2) hooks are single hooks with gap between point and shank larger than 3/4 inch; (4) each line is identified with the anglers name and address; (4) each line is physically inspected at least once during each 24 hour period.
Sportfishing gear for northern pike: Unless otherwise provided by area regulations, northern pike may be taken by spear.
Use of explosives or toxicants: The use of explosives or toxicants for taking fish is prohibited.
Use of underwater spear: In salt water, spears may be used to take fish, subject to applicable seasons and bag limits, by persons who are completely submerged.
Shellfish Methods & Means
Shellfish may only be taken as follows:
Closed Waters & Prohibited Acts
Waters closed to Sportfishing: unless otherwise provided by the area regulations: (a) waters within 300 feet of a fish weir or fish ladder are closed to Sportfishing, unless a lesser distance is indicated by Department. markers; and (b) it is unlawful to cast, drift, or place by any means a hook, bait, lure, or fly into waters closed to fishing.
Possession of sport-caught fish: Sport-caught fish, their parts, and articles manufactured from such fish may be possessed within the state by any person at any time, and may be transported within and exported out of the state by any person at any time except that no person may possess any unprocessed fish, or part of one not legally taken by himself, unless he furnishes upon request of any peace officer of the state, a statement signed by the person taking the fish stating the type of fish, number of fish, location, date taken, and license number. The statement is unnecessary if the person possessing the fish is accompanied by the person who took the fish. No person may possess fish which were not legally taken.
Wasting of fish: The intentional waste or destruction of any species of sport-caught fish is prohibited. However, whitefish, herring, and other species for which bag limits, seasons, or other regulatory methods and means are not provided in 5 AAC 47-5 AAC 75, as well as the head, tail, fins, and viscera of legally taken sport fish, may be used for bait or other purposes.
Possession of Sport caught Halibut: (a) no person may possess sport-caught halibut aboard a vessel when other fish or shellfish abroad the vessel are destined for sale , trade, barter; and (b) until brought to shore and offloaded, no person may filet, mutilate, or otherwise disfigure a halibut in any manner that prevents determination of the number of fish caught or possessed.
Trophy Fish Program
Trophy fish certificates are issued by the department to give special recognition to anglers taking fish that meet minimum weight qualifications for each species.
- Entries must meet minimum weight qualifications and must be weighted on a currently certified scale. Scale must be certified annually by the Division of Weights and Measures. Weighing must be in the presence of witnesses and a Trophy Fish Official who signs the affidavit. Division of Sport Fish biologists may also serve as Trophy Officials. At least one witness is mandatory.
- Entrant must sign the affidavit in the presence of a Trophy Fish Official. Trophy Fish Officials have been designated at numerous locations throughout the state; for a list of Trophy Fish Officials nearest you, contact your local ADF&G off ice or write the address set out in rule 5.
- Length measurements must be straight line measure (not following the curve of the fish) from tip of snout to tip of tail.
- Halibut entries may also qualify by meeting a minimum length requirement of 84 inches. The fish must be measured in the presence of a Trophy Fish Official. Halibut not weighed on a certified scale will not be considered for state or annual records.
- Entrant must submit an original affidavit not later than Jan. 31 of the following year of the catch to:
Department of Fish and Game
Forms are available at ADF&G offices. Correspondence concerning your entry should be directed to the above address. Please notify ADF&G of any address change to ensure delivery of your certificate.
- ADF&G reserves the right to check fish identification or to refuse any questionable affidavits. Decisions of the department will be final.
- Fish must be hooked and played by only one person; assistance is permissible in landing or boating a fish.
- Fish must be legally caught in compliance with current ADF&G Sportfishing regulations. Fish caught from waters not open to the public are not eligible.
- A separate affidavit form must be completed in full for each entry. Incomplete forms may disqualify an entry.
- A clear photograph, showing a close-up side view of the fish must accompany each entry form. A size-reference object must be included in the picture. The photograph will not be returned; it becomes the property of ADF&G for its use in public information releases.
- Catch & Release Honorary Certificate:"Honorary" trophy fish certificates and a patch will be issued to entrants who catch and release Arctic char/ Dolly Varden, Arctic grayling, brook trout, cutthroat trout, lake trout, northern pike, rainbow trout, or sheefish. In order to reduce additional handling of the fish, entrant should estimate its length, instead of actually measuring it. A clear photograph showing a close-up side view of the fish (preferably in the water) must accompany each entry form. Entries exhibiting any indication of improper handling or injury in the photograph will be disqualified. At least one witness is mandatory.
Minimum lengths for catch-and-release honorary certificates: Arctic char / dolly Varden, 30 inches; Arctic grayling, 18 inches; brook trout, 20 inches; cutthroat trout, 20 inches; lake trout, 36 inches; northern pike, 40 inches; rainbow / steelhead, 32 inches; sheefish, 45 inches.
Definitions of Terms Used
The following are in addition to the definitions set forth in AS 16.05.940:
Area means a regulatory management area as described in 5 AAC 47-5 AAC 70.
Artificial fly means a fly which is constructed by common methods known as fly tying, including a dry fly, wet fly, and nymph, which is free of bait as defined in 5 AAC 75.995. Materials and chemicals designed and produced primarily to cause flies to float or sink may be used on artificial flies.
Artificial fly (unweighted) means a fly which weighs less than one-fourth ounce in its entirety.
Artificial lure means any lure which is man-made, free of bait as defined in 5 AAC 75.995, and is used to attract fish.
Bag limit means the maximum legal take per person per day, in the area in which the person is fishing, even though part or all of the fish are immediately preserved; a fish when landed and killed becomes a part of the bag limit of the person originally hooking it.
Bait means any substance applied to fishing gear for the purpose of attracting fish by scent, including fish eggs in any form, natural or preserved animal, fish, fish oil, shellfish, or insect parts, natural or processed vegetable matter, and natural or synthetic chemicals.
Char means all char including Dolly Varden, Arctic char, Mackinaw or lake trout, and eastern brook trout.
Charter vessel means a vessel licensed under AS 16.05.490, used for hire in the sport, personal use, or subsistence taking of fish or shellfish, and not used on the same day for any other commercial fishing purpose; a charter vessel does not include a vessel or skiff without a charter vessel operator.
Charter vessel operator means a person engaged in carrying passengers on a charter vessel for any valuable consideration that passes directly or indirectly to the vessel's owner, operator, or a person with a financial interest in the vessel, in consideration of the carriage of any person on board.
Closed season means the time during which fish may not betaken.
Closed waters means waters designated by the board wherein it is illegal to take fish.
Drainage means all of the waters comprising a watershed including tributary rivers, streams, sloughs, ponds, and lakes which contribute to the water supply of the watershed.
Flowing waters means all fresh waters, excluding lakes and ponds, that have a detectable current, including all creeks, streams, and rivers draining into, between, and out of all lakes and ponds, and all intertidal waters upstream of the stream mouth, as "stream mouth" is defined in 5 AAC 75.995.
Fresh water means all inland waters; inland waters are separated from saltwater at the mouths of creeks, streams, and rivers at a line between extremities of the latter's banks at a mean low tide or at a point to be determined and adequately marked by the department.
Guide means a person who assists another person in the taking of fish or shellfish under sport, personal use, or subsistence fishing regulations with the intent of receiving monetary or material remuneration for services, by accompanying and directing that person personally for the duration or any portion of a fishing trip. "Guide" does not include a person who provides only transportation services or rents a vessel or skiff without an operator.
Length of fish means the length from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail (total length). local representative of the department means (a) the nearest most accessible professional employee of the department; (b) a person designated by the Commissioner or by a professional employee of the department to perform specific functions for the department; or (c) a law enforcement officer of the Department of Public Safety.
Mark or marking means all forms of skin alterations, fin clipping, or other mutilation, or insertion of foreign materials in live fish that permit later identification.
Molesting means the harassing, disturbing, or interfering with fish by any means, including the use of any missile or object not established as legal gear; molesting includes dragging, kicking, throwing, striking, or otherwise abusing a fish which is intended to be released.
Multiple hook means a fish hook with two or more points with or without barbs.
Open season means the time during which fish may lawfully be taken; each period of time prescribed as an open season shall be construed to begin at l2:01 a.m. on the first day and end at midnight of the last day thereof.
Peace Officer of the State means a person defined in AS 16.05.150.
Pike means northern pike.
Possession limit means the maximum number of unpreserved fish a person may have in possession.
Preserved fish means fish prepared in such a manner, and in an existing state of preservation, as to be fit for human consumption after a 15-day period, and does not include unfrozen fish temporarily stored in coolers that contain ice, dry ice, or fish that are lightly salted.
Rockfish includes all fish of the genus Sebastes.
Salmon means all salmon, including the five species of Pacific salmon: coho, chum, king, pink, and sockeye.
Salt water means all marine waters; marine waters are separated from fresh water at the mouths of streams, rivers, and creeks.
Single hook means a fishhook with only one point with or without a barb.
Snag means to hook a fish elsewhere than in the mouth.
Sportfishing means the taking of or attempting to take for personal use, and not for sale or barter, any freshwater, marine, or anadromous fish by hook and line attached to a pole or rod which is held in the hand or closely attended or by other means defined by the Alaska Board of Fisheries.
Stream mouth means the downstream point defined as a straight line running from the most downstream extremity on one stream bank to the most downstream extremity on the other stream bank, or a point defined and marked by the department.
Toxicants means any material or chemical that upon introduction to the waters of Alaska by direct or indirect means will kill, stun, or drive fish from their natural repose.
Transport means to ship, transport, carry, import, export, or receive or deliver for shipment transportation, carriage, or export.
Waters of Alaska has the same meaning as set out in 5 AAC 39.975(13).
Year means the calendar year from January 1 through December 31.
REMEMBER: It's up to you to know and follow the rules. Alaska's fishing regulations are very strict and reviewing them before you start fishing can avoid problems later!
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copy of current regulations:
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