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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 8, 2020

Courtesy of Nels Ure

The Naknek-Kvichak fleet hauled in the second million-fish catch. Nushagak was just under a million, and yesterday’s daily catch across all districts was over 2.6 million. The run in the bay is at almost 20 million fish so far, and there are an estimated 650,000 fish in the rivers across the bay. 


Almost 20 million fish have returned to Bristol Bay so far this year. Yesterday’s daily catch was over 2.6 million, and cumulative catch baywide is over 14.1 million. Cumulative escapement is 4.2 million, and there are an estimated 650,000 fish in the rivers across the bay. 

Average fish per drift delivery yesterday was also back up over 1,100 in all of the districts that fished besides Togiak, which had an average fish per drift delivery of 114. 


Travis Elison, east side Management Biologist for Naknek-Kvichak, weighs in on where the district is at

Yesterday marked the second day in a row of an east side district with a daily harvest of over 1 million fish. 

“Harvest has been really large the last three days and it looks like that’s going to continue probably at least through the weekend about as far as we can see based on Port Moller," said management biologist Travis Elison. "It’s looking like a good, strong run, catch is going along great and Naknek escapement is pretty high for this time of year – we’re just past the midpoint of the escapement goal there.”

On the other side of the Naknek-Kvichak District, the Kvichak River is only just starting to pick up. The Kvichak side of the district has had some movement over the last two days and Elison expects to see more escapement around July 11 and hopes to meet escapement goals soon. 

“We can only project as far as we can see from the information we’re getting from Port Moller really and use a little historical run timing stuff, too," Elison said. "But I expect it to be strong probably through the next week at a minimum. It should be good from now through the weekend and based on the historic (records) next week will also be some good fishing in the Naknek-Kvichak District.”

Fishing in the Naknek-Kvichak during the district's biggest day so far

We’re going to stick around in the Naknek-Kvichak District for a moment this evening. The fleet hauled in the bay’s second day of a million-fish harvest in a row. KDLG’s Izzy Ross caught up with Nels Ure. It’s his first year captaining a boat, and he says yesterday was big and fast. 



Ure is also on the board of directors for the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, which just kicked off its annual photo contest. Ure says this year, they decided to re-vamp the contest. 


The months leading up to this fishing season were complicated. Tribes and other municipal entities had extensive discussions about how to minimize health risks to their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic -- including requests to close the fishery. Deenaalee Hodgdon is from South Naknek and Anvik. In the first of a two-part interview, KDLG’s Tyler Thompson talked to Hodgdon about their connection to the region, and their decision not to fish this summer.


Weather Wednesday  

It’s Weather Wednesday with Rick Thoman, climate specialist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. This week we take a look at the hot and steamy July 4th, and a few storms coming up. 



Messages to the fleet:

A message for the captain of the Wrangler in Nushagak Bay

We are thinking of you and hoping you are being very careful and staying safe...

We all love you,


To: Capt. Brent Cathey on the F/V Independence

Amazon delivered your Uggs today. I put them in the closet next to your bunny slippers and Crocs. Found some unicorn pajamas! Hope a onesie is okay? Your brother says hi.

Most of my love,

Montana Chick


Hello to the F/V Force Five 1 in Naknek. Sending love from home, Mom and Dad.

The Numbers:

Here on the westside….

Nushagak District

Harvest dropped off just a tiny bit in the Nushagak district at 940,000 fish yesterday. That brings the season total harvest in the Nushagak so far 4.4 million fish, caught 3% by Igushik set-netters, 25% by Nushagak set-netters, and 72% by the drift fleet. 

Across the Nushagak District, escapement was 239,000 fish, for a total district escapement of 1.4 million. The Nushagak’s total run is now 5.7 million sockeye. Looking at escapement by river in the Nushagak District:

Nushagak River

The Nushagak River sonar counted 110,317 sockeye yesterday, a huge jump from the previous day’s 8,000. This makes the escapement in the Nushagak River 584,000.

The Nushagak sonar also counted 3,200 kings yesterday, making the Nushagak’s king escapement 38,000 so far this season. An escapement of 16,800 chum salmon rounds out chum escapement in the Nushagak at 78,000.  

Wood River

The Wood River counting tower crew counted 57,000 fish past the tower as of 6am this morning, making the Wood River escapement 790,000 sockeye.

Igushik River

In the Igushik River, tower crews recorded 450 fish as of 6 a.m. this morning, making escapement in the Igushik 48,000.


Togiak saw a daily harvest of 11,000 fish yesterday, over a third of the season total harvest of 27,000 fish. 

The tower crew in the Togiak river counted 400 fish before 6 this morning, making total season escapement in the Togiak district 3,400.

The total run in Togiak is now 30,000 sockeye. 


The Naknek-Kvichak District became the second district to have a million-fish harvest day this season, and 1 million and 75 thousand fish. The Naknek-Kvichak district has the highest season total harvest so far: 4.78 million. That total catch came 7% from Kvichak set-netters, 16% from Naknek set-netters, and 77% from the Naknek drifters.

Escapement in the Naknek-Kvichak District was also high yesterday: 517,000 fish, pushing the season escapement across the district to over 2 million. The Naknek-Kvichak also has the highest total run so far at 7.1 million fish. Breaking yesterday’s escapement down by river:

Alagnak River

In the Alagnak River, 85,000 sockeye escaped yesterday, bringing the Alagnak escapement to 246,000 fish.

Kvichak River

In the Kvichak River, a 170,000 daily fish escapement yesterday rounds out the total escapement in the Kvichak at 384,000 fish. The Kvichak also has a 300,000-fish in-river estimate. 

Naknek River

The Naknek River remains the only river in the bay with an escapement of over 1 million fish: it’s at 1.4 million after yesterday’s daily escapement of 262,000 fish.


Fishermen in Egegik caught 658,000 fish yesterday. Season’s total harvest so far in Egegik is 4.76 million, the second largest harvest in the bay, attributed 86% to the drifters and 14% to the set-netters. 

Escapement in the Egegik District was 105,000 fish yesterday, bringing total escapement in the Egegik River so far to 755,000 fish. With an in-river estimate of 300,000, the total Egegik run so far is 5.8 million, the second largest run in the bay. 


No daily catch in the Ugashik District yesterday, the total catch in Ugashik is still 212,000 fish. 

7,300 fish escaped in Ugashik yesterday. The total escapement so far in that district is 44,600. Adding the 50,000 fish in-river estimate, the total run in the Ugashik district is 307,000.

Permit registration on July 8 9:00 a.m. to July 10 at 9:00 a.m.

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? I mean, where in the bay are the boats fishing? There are 1,690 permits fishing on 1,313 boats. That’s 936 single-permit vessels and 377 D boats. At 9am on July 10, there will be 1,325 boats fishing in the bay, 380 of which will be D boats. Now, by district:

Egegik has the highest number of vessel registrations: 33% of the fleet, or 431 boats, 139 of which are D boats. Those numbers won’t change in the next 48 hours. 

The Naknek-Kvichak District is the second-largest portion of the fleet. 422 boats are fishing there, 126 of which are D boats. That’s a solid 32% of the bay’s fleet. In 48 hours, that will increase to 428 boats, 129 of which will be D boats. 

The Nushagak District is being fished 29% of the fleet: 382 boats, 102 of which are D boats. At 9 a.m. on Friday, that will increase to 385 boats, still with 102 D boats. 

Ugashik has now overtaken the Togiak District in vessel registrations. 3% of the boats in the bay are fishing in Ugashik. That’s 40 boats, 10 of which are D boats. In 48 hours, there will be 43 boats fishing in Ugashik, still with 10 D boats. 

And you guessed it, there are still 38 boats fishing in Togiak. That 3% of the fleet won’t change in the next 48 hours. 


13,757 sockeye passed the Chignik weir yesterday. Adding that to the 1,284 sockeye that passed as of 9am this morning, the total sockeye run in the Chighiks is 116,656. That’s 103,684 in the early run, and 12,972 in the late run. 

48 chinook salmon passed the weir yesterday, and 6 this morning, bringing the king salmon run at the Chignik weir to 248. 

And 96 pinks passed the weir yesterday. Added to the 12 pinks that passed this morning, the pink run in the Chigniks is 216.

Area M

Some of the harvest information from Area M yesterday is confidential, but we do have harvest information from some sections Area M. 

Across area M, public harvest yesterday was 20,300 sockeye, for a season total harvest in Area M of 557,000 sockeye. 

Area M fleet also harvested 14,000 pinks, bringing total pink harvest to 1.7 million. A harvest of 6,200 chum brought chum harvest to 486,000 chums in Area M. The fleet also harvested just over 1,000 coho and 500 kings yesterday. 

The next openers in Area M will begin at 6 a.m. Friday morning. 

Port Moller

Fishing conditions were not ideal for the Port Moller test fishery yesterday. The Americanus attempted to reach station 2, but had to turn back. The Ocean Cat was able to battle through the 7 to 9 foot seas to do a few sets. 

Scott Raborn said in an email that the high catches and escapements of the past few days in the bay correlate approximately to June 26 through 28, when the test fishery was unable to fish. The good fishing at the test fishery between June 30 and July 5 indicate that there are *many* fish left to come. 

Raborn added that fishing at Port Moller indicates that the run is at least 3 days late, and probably more, ruling out the possibility of an early or on-time run of 35 million fish or less. Runs of close to 40 million fish have never been more than 2 days late. Moller says, based on the test fishery, the most likely scenario is that the run will be greater than 50 million fish, and over 5 days late. 

Here are yesterday’s catch indices from Port Moller:

Station  Index

Station 8 had an index of 45 -- 4 in the 4 ½ and 11 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 10 had an index of 113 -- 25 in the 4 ½ and 20 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 12 had an index of 66 -- 2 in the 4 ½ and 21 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 16 had an index of 3 -- 1 in the 5 ⅛ inch mesh.

Station 18 had an index of 169 -- 32 in the 4 ½ and 27 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 20 had an index of 23 -- 6 in the 4 ½ inch mesh.

We’ve also got the 7th stock composition estimate from Port Moller, interpreted from 1,061 catch index data points from the July 5th test fishery catch at stations 2 through 20.

1.4% of the fish were headed to the Kuskokwim river.

1.2% were headed to the Togiak river.

7.1% were headed to the Igushik river.

7.3% were headed to the Wood river. 

2.8% were headed to the Nushagak.

26.9% were headed to the Kvichak.

1.4% were headed to the Alagnak.

15% were headed to the Naknek

25.8% were headed to the Egegik river.

8.1% were headed to the Ugashik.

And 2.8% were on their way to the North Peninsula. 

Correction: The percent allocations of harvest by gear type are calculated from the cumulative harvest, not the daily catch as initially reported.