Halibut fishing in the Seward area is generally fair in the month of May. Most fish are in the 20-30 pound range. Catches of larger fish are dependent on the weather. If boats can safely leave Resurrection Bay and head east toward Cape Puget, Montague Strait, Cape Cleare, or Elrington Island, they may come back with one or two halibut in the 100-pound range. Anglers fishing from smaller boats occasionally have success in the deeper waters of Resurrection Bay.
Daily limit is 2 per person, and possession limit is 4 per person. If you hook a fish, it counts toward your limit, regardless of who reels it in.
By late April to early May, the first returning king salmon are usually landed from anglers fishing from boats near the mouth of Resurrection Bay. Try trolling near Cape Resurrection, Aialik Cape, or in Eldorado Narrows. Herring under a flasher works well. Look for schools of baitfish, or flocks of birds feeding off baitfish, and cast or troll near there.
A few kings “hit the beach” near the Seward Lagoon outfall culverts, and near the Lowell Creek waterfall, since that’s where they are stocked. During May this beach fishery will be slow, but should pick up as the month progresses. The run peaks in mid- to late June. Shore anglers usually have the highest harvest rates fishing 1-2 hours before and after high tide.
Kings can be taken using a variety of lures and bait, as well as by snagging, which is legal in Resurrection Bay salt waters. Anglers also have success trolling for kings near these locations, using herring as bait, and setting a flasher above the lure.
Inside Resurrection Bay, from May 1 – August 31, the daily limit for king salmon is two, any size. A king salmon stamp IS required before fishing for kings (unless you have the ADF&G Permanent ID Card or the ADF&G Disabled Veteran’s Card, or you are under 16 years old). Outside Resurrection Bay the bag and possession limit for king salmon, year round, is 1 fish, any size.
Anglers trolling in Resurrection Bay in May also have a slight chance of picking up a chum salmon or red (sockeye) salmon.
Other Saltwater Fishing Opportunities
There’s a chance that shore anglers near Lowell Point will catch an anadromous Dolly Varden or two in mid- to late May. This is a fun surfcasting opportunity, using small spinners and spoons or flies that imitate salmon fry and smolt.
Lingcod fishing inside Resurrection Bay, north of a line between Cape Resurrection and Aialik Cape, is closed year round, and lingcod fishing in all other waters does not open until July 1. All lingcod incidentally caught must be landed by hand or with a landing net and released immediately.
Anglers leaving from Seward should review the rockfish regulations before heading out. The latitude of Cape Puget is the dividing line between two areas that have different rockfish regulations: 1) Prince William Sound, and 2) The North Gulf Coast (which includes Resurrection Bay).
In Prince William Sound, anglers must keep the first two non-pelagic rockfish they catch. Daily limits for rockfish, including non-pelagic rockfish are also different in the two areas.
Non-pelagic rockfish – such as “red snapper” – need this additional protection because they rarely survive the change in pressure as they are brought to the surface. Rockfish are extremely long-lived fish, and are slow to reach sexual maturity. Overharvest would quickly reduce the number of mature fish available to spawn. Anglers targeting rockfish are encouraged to fish for black or dusky rockfish in waters less than 10 fathoms (60 feet) so that fish that are released have a fair chance at survival. Also, halibut anglers are strongly encouraged to fish with a single large hook (size 16 or larger) and avoid rocky areas to minimize their unintentional rockfish catch. There’s a handy rockfish ID chart posted on the web, and also printed in our regulation booklet.
Bag limits “carry over” between areas, and daily limits apply per day, NOT PER AREA. For example, if you keep 2 red snapper (non-pelagic rockfish) east of Cape Puget, then travel west of Cape Puget and stop to fish, you are over your daily limit, because west of Cape Puget the daily limit for non-pelagic rockfish is 1. You may pass through an area on your way back to port, but check the limits if you’re thinking about stopping to fish.
Sharks are occasionally taken in Resurrection Bay fisheries. The daily bag limit for sharks is one fish of any species, and the annual limit is two sharks of any species. This includes spiny dogfish as well as salmon and sleeper sharks. Sleeper sharks are generally considered inedible and should be released. All harvested sharks must be recorded immediately upon capture on the back of your license or on your Harvest Record Card.
Sharks have a high urea content, and are inedible unless handled properly. Bleed your shark immediately upon capture by cutting the underside of the tail, and let the bleeding continue until the heart stops. Gutting the fish with a single cut from the anus to the gills can enhance the quality of the meat. Please do not cut off the head or tail until after the fish is landed to ensure that the ADF&G port sampler has an opportunity to obtain measurements.
Beginning in late May, ADF&G has a port sampler stationed in the Seward Small Boat Harbor. The technician interviews returning anglers and samples halibut, rockfish, and sharks for length, weight, sex, and age. You can help by providing information when interviewed and by returning fish carcasses to the harbor for sampling. The information collected by this project is used to monitor the health of the fishery, advise halibut management agencies, and help the Board of Fisheries formulate regulations that protect fish stock and provide maximum fishing opportunity. Contact Dan Bosch in Anchorage at (907) 267-2153 for more information.
Herring are caught in late April/early May by anglers fishing a herring rig (15 or fewer small, unbaited hooks on a single line) in the Seward Small Boat Harbor. Herring are used as both a food fish and a baitfish. There is no bag limit.
North Gulf Coast is closed to crabbing year-round, due to low population levels. There is an Alaska-resident-only shrimp pot fishery that opens April 15-September 15. Please check the regulation booklet for complete details.
Fresh Water Fishing Opportunities
With one exception, all freshwaters draining into the Resurrection Bay area are closed year-round to all salmon fishing. The exception is a portion the Resurrection River, which is open August 1 – December 31 for fall salmon fishing. Consult your regulation booklet before fishing this river.
Most Resurrection Bay freshwater lakes and streams are open year round to Dolly Varden, rainbow trout, lake trout, and Arctic grayling sport fishing. There are several lakes and streams in the Seward area accessible by road or trail that support resident fish populations. A free handout outlining sport fishing opportunities in the Seward area is available your local ADF&G office, or on the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Brochures page.