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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 7, 2019

Tyler Thompson/KDLG

It's hot and smoky in Bristol Bay. For the second day in a row, the harvest across the five districts was more than 2 million, and Egegik caught the most. Naknek-Kvichak saw its biggest catch of the season yesterday, and the Nushagak has surpassed the harvest forecast by 1.3 million fish. 

It’s still hot around Bristol Bay, and now it’s also hazy. Tonight's forecast includes areas of smoke after midnight. In Dillingham, a grey fog hangs in the air, obscuring the view of Warehouse Mountain. We talk to Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the University of Fairbanks.


According to Thoman, the smoke is coming from wildfires southwest of McGrath. It is also possible that high-altitude ash from a volcanic erruption in Russia's far east has drifted to Bristol Bay. Thoman said the smoke will likely last until Wednesday. As of 3:00 p.m. July 7, the National Weather Service and the state's Division of Air Quality have not issued an air quality advisory for the region.

As a state, Alaska is at preparedness level 4; PLs are a logistical metric based on ongoing fires and the potential for more. The highest PL is 5.


Credit Courtesy of Rick Thoman
A satellite image of the smoke drift over Bristol Bay.

Despite the heat, the fleet hauled in more than 2 million fish for the second day in a row. Across the five districts, the total run is now 22.7 million. That’s more than halfway to the forecasted 40.2 million. The cumulative harvest is 19.1 million, out of the forecasted 26.1 million. 


Harvest in the Nushagak District was 702,000 yesterday, for a total of 9.3 million – outstripping the preseason projection for harvest of 8 million. At 11 million fish, the total run in the district is now one million above the forecast. 

The district’s total escapement was 83,500, for a cumulative of 1.69 million. 

In the Nushagak River, sockeye escapement was 12,200 yesterday, for a cumulative 474,000. King escapement was 526 yesterday, for a total of 38,900. And chum were at 16,400. The cumulative chum escapement is 299,200. 

In the Wood River, escapement as of 6 a.m. this morning was 8,100, and yesterday’s total was 68,500, bringing the total to 1.19 million. 

In the Igushik, 1,600 fish escaped past the tower as of 6 a.m. this morning, and yesterday’s total was 2,800, for a total of 41,300. 

Togiak caught 25,000 fish yesterday, for a total of 149,300. Escapement this morning was at 1,100, for a total of 6,000. 

Over on the east side, Egegik had another enormous haul yesterday, catching 810,000 for a cumulative harvest of 5.8 million. That’s only 1.2 million short of its total forecasted harvest of 7 million. It is also well on its way to surpassing the forecasted total run of 8.7 million sockeye. The run there is currently 6.67 million. Escapement was 60,200 yesterday for a total of 793,000.

The Naknek-Kvichak was a close second for large hauls, bringing in 781,000 fish for a total of 3.6 million yesterday. That brought the season’s cumulative harvest so far more than halfway to meeting the district’s preseason projection of 7.8 million. District-wide, escapement was 99,700 for a cumulative 955,300. 

At the Naknek River, escapement was 83,500 for a total of 870,300. In the Kvichak, 12,300 fish passed the tower yesterday, for a cumulative 60,500. And in the Alagnak, escapement yesterday was 3,800 for a total of 24,500. 

Ugashik did not fish yesterday, so the total harvest remains at 173,700. Escapement there was 7,100 yesterday, bringing the total to 33,600. 

Catch this program nightly live at 6 p.m., with replays at 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on AM 670, and online at KDLG.org. (With early broadcasts of the numbers Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.)

Letters from home to your friends and family in the Bay this summer? Email us at fish@kdlg.org or call 907-842-5281.

Have feedback or suggestions of something you'd like to hear? Reach Izzy Ross / Tyler Thompson / Alex Hager / Sage Smiley (in Naknek)

Credit Tyler Thompson/KDLG


Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.