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How Climate Change Is Affecting King Salmon

Climate change has majorly affected wildlife all over the world, and Alaskan wildlife is no exception.  Moose, caribou and other native Alaskan species have all felt the effect of rising temperatures. One species experiencing a major upset due to climate change in Alaska is king salmon.

Native to western North American rivers, king salmon (also known as chinook salmon) is a favorite of anglers. King salmon fishing is one of the most popular types of fishing in the world; however, a recent study might suggest we’ll start seeing less king salmon in Alaskan rivers because of climate change.

Higher temperatures and king salmon

Climate change has caused an increase in Alaskan temperatures, which greatly affects king salmon fishing. The study mentioned above, which was conducted by the University of Alaska, showed king salmon populations dropping when water temperatures reached over 64°F.

Alaska experienced one of its hottest years in 2019 when water temperatures rose above 80°F. This resulted in massive king salmon deaths from heatstroke.

How heavier rainfall affects king salmon

The study used data from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and Cook Inletkeeper to focus on the population of king salmon over several decades. These numbers showed heavier rainfall resulted in a lower king salmon population. With the heavier rainfall came more movement in gravel, which displaced the king salmon eggs.

What does climate change have to do with heavier rainfall? Climate change warms the oceans, which causes increased evaporation. This increased evaporation sometimes results in heavier rainfall and snowstorms.

What this means for king salmon fishing

As temperatures continue to rise, the king salmon population will likely decline. Over the years, sport fisheries have had to close due to a decline in the king salmon population. Thankfully, Alaska recently saw cooler temperatures, allowing sports fisheries like the Mat-Su Basin to reopen. This is great news for king salmon fishing enthusiasts, though it doesn’t mean we’re done seeing the effects of climate change in Alaska. Not by a long shot.

Possible ways of dealing with climate change in Alaska

There are some steps Alaska could take to deal with the declining king salmon population. University of Alaska Fairbanks research scientist Erik Schoen suggested preserving cold water habitats and creating a green infrastructure in urban salmon runs. He also suggested working with experienced oceanographers and marine biologists to determine the best ways of dealing with Alaskan climate change. There are many things people can do to help preserve king salmon, and it’s best to start right away.

Enjoy an excellent fishing experience

If you’re looking to enjoy the best king salmon fishing in Alaska, get in touch with the team at Phantom Tri-River Charters. We’ll take you to all the best spots, where you’ll have the best chance of getting that perfect catch. Our boats come fully equipped with everything you need for a fun and safe fishing experience. Just remember to bring your own fishing license, rain gear and sunglasses. We look forward to welcoming you soon!