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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 22, 2021

Hope McKenney

More than half a million fish returned to the bay yesterday. The total run is at 63.7 million fish. Escapement across the bay is 24.7 million — the third-largest on record. The Naknek-Kvichak hauled in nearly two-thirds of yesterday’s harvest and the Naknek River alone took nearly half of the bay’s escapement yesterday.

Tell us what you think of the show! This allows us to plan for an even better season next year. Email fish@kdlg.org and tell us what you think!

NOAA hires its first Tribal research coordinator

Credit Adem Boeckmann
Mabel Baldwin-Schaeffer snow crabbing in Norton Sound.

For the first time, the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a Tribal research coordinator. NOAA is a key federal leader of environmental research. As KDLG’s Mackenzie Mancuso reports, those involved say the new position is a step toward better representation for Alaska’s Indigenous communities.


Bristol Bay's sockeye run a stark contrast to others in the state

Bristol Bay’s sockeye run is now over 63 million fish. Other runs in the state are at record lows. KDLG’s Izzy Ross spoke with Greg Buck, a research biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Bristol Bay commercial fisheries division.


Perspectives from the water

KDLG Fish Reporters Stephanie Maltarich and Mackenzie Mancuso talked to fishermen in Dillingham and Naknek about their seasons, and Bristol Bay’s new record run. 



Siberian Haze blows to Bristol Bay

This summer in Bristol Bay has been much rainier and hazier than normal. Alaska Climate Specialist Rick Thoman explains how precipitation affects water levels in the area and how Siberian wildfires are changing the views on clear days. 



Messages to the fleet

To Tom Huffer Sr on Egegik Beach, from Stella:  No seats are available on any flights out of King Salmon on Alaska or Ravn.  You have your reservations for the 26th as planned. The alternative might be Dillingham.  Please turn on the phone so I can call.  If anyone hears this on Egegik Beach, please pass this on. 

To the hearty fishermen of the Vega!!

We wish you guys good fishing and a safe return to us in Salt Lake City & Flagstaff!! We are proud of y'all. 

Lizzie, Ron, Jesse, Ciera, the girls and Mom!!

Credit James Radon

 The numbers

Bristol Bay’s total run continues to grow -- a total run of 63.7 million fish have swam to the bay’s waters. 

Yesterday’s harvest was 378,000. Nearly two thirds went to the Naknek-Kvichak fishermen. Total harvest bay-wide amounts to 39 million salmon caught by our fantastic fisher folk this season. That’s the sixth-largest harvest on record -- right under 2019’s harvest. 

Further up the rivers, 162,567 fish made it past towers. The Naknek tower counted nearly half of that. Bay-wide escapement is 24.7 million fish up Bristol Bay’s nine major rivers. That is the third-largest escapement on record.

Nushagak District

Catch in the Nushagak District continues to decline, only 23,000 fish were netted yesterday. The cumulative total is 17.5 million. Drift deliveries were the lowest for the bay, with an average of 218 sockeye. 

We’re winding down the numbers this season. Tomorrow is the last day of escapement counts from the Wood River tower and the Nushagak sonar. The district-wide escapement yesterday was 40,701, pushing the season total up to 9.8 million fish between the district rivers. 

The Nushagak District’s total run is just under 27.48 million fish.

Nushagak River

A little bump in the Nushagak River’s sockeye escapement yesterday, as 10,371 fish passed the sonar. The total escapement in that river is at 4.6 million.

The Chinook run is still just shy of its minimum escapement; 28 Chinook swam up river yesterday, bringing the king run to around 53,959.

The chum run was 472 yesterday, for a season total of 124,890.

Wood River

There was a bit of a push up the Wood River yesterday as well, as 19,212 fish swam past the counting tower, and another 2,322 escaped as of 6 a.m. this morning. Total escapement up the Wood is at 4.2 million.

Igushik River

The Igushik River’s run past the counting tower was up slightly; 11,118 swam up river yesterday, and another 2,718 were counted this morning. The Igushik’s cumulative escapement is at 834,330.


Over in the Togiak River, harvest has stayed fairly consistent; 19,000 fish were captured for a season total of 338,941 fish caught so far. Yesterday’s average drift delivery was 276 sockeye.

Escapement was down, as 4,938 fish pushed past the tower, and another 1,530 swam up as of 6 a.m. this morning. Togiak’s total escapement stands at 126,738.

Total run for the Togiak District is 464,149.

Naknek-Kvichak District

The Naknek-Kvichak District continues to impress late in the season -- fishermen harvested 216,000 fish yesterday. Average drift deliveries there were the biggest in the bay, at 552 sockeye. The cumulative harvest for the year so far is 8.65 million fish.

Escapement for the district was also up yesterday, 85,278 fish swam through. That’s over three times the escapement from the day before. The total escapement for the Naknek-Kvichak is 10.26 million fish so far.

The total run for the district is 18.92 million fish.

Naknek River

The Naknek River saw the biggest escapement in the district by far. 72,708 fish swam past the counting tower -- about half of yesterday’s bay-wide escapement. The river’s total escapement is at 2.79 million fish.

Kvichak River

The Kvichak River saw the least escapement in the district, as a mere 3,168 fish swam by the tower there. The total escapement for that river sits at 4.53 million.

Alagnak River

The Alagnak, however, got a slight boost -- 9,402 salmon swam through, bringing the season total to 2.94 million spawners.

Egegik District

The Egegik District saw a humble harvest of 48,000 yesterday -- a bit up from the day before. The average drift delivery had about 480 sockeye. The season total harvest there is at 7.75 million fish.

Escapement, on the other hand, came to 4,956 fish. The season’s escapement total is 1.8 million fish.

The total run in Egegik this season is at 9.56 million fish.

Ugashik District

The Ugashik District’s harvest is still consistent. The fleet caught 72,000 fish, with an average drift delivery of 513 sockeye. The total harvest for the year so far is 4.73 million fish.

26,694 fish escaped Ugashik nets and passed the counting tower, bringing total escapement there to just below 2.83 million. 

The total run in the Ugashik is at 7.4 million fish so far. 

Chignik Weir Counts

At the Chignik River, 13,705 sockeye passed the weir yesterday, and 72 Chinook swam through. As of 9 a.m. this morning, 2,694 sockeye passed through, and 18 Chinook also passed through. 

A total of 355,892 sockeye have escaped up the Chignik River so far this season. The early run is at 253,679, and the late run is at 102,213.

The Chinook run up the Chignik River is at 649 fish.

Area M

Over in Area M, fishermen harvested 50,278 sockeye yesterday for a total of 5.6 million. Around 1,000 chum were caught, bringing that harvest to 950,800. The daily pink catch was about 600 fish, for a total of 3.5 million. And 52 coho were caught, for a season total of almost 32,000 so far.

Over half of Area M’s harvest is from the South Peninsula. That season total for sockeye is 3.1 million, while the North Peninsula’s catch is 2.4 million.

Contact the fish team at fish@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.