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Bristol Bay fishery Tuesday July 28 update

Molly Dischner/KDLG

The fish may have outlasted the fleet this year, as returns are still continuing but effort is winding down.

Through Monday, the total Bristol Bay sockeye run was estimated at 51,935,000, according to Area Management Biologist Tim Sands. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has stopped sending out daily run summaries, but managers are still tracking the activity.

“It looks like we’ll break 52 million in the total run here today,” Sands said Tuesday.

Monday’s catch was about 115,000 fish baywide, bringing the season total to 35.5 million. Sands said the largest portion of Monday’s catch came out of the Naknek-Kvichak District.

Although fish are still returning to Bristol Bay, buyers are shutting down. Sands said Tuesday that there were only two buyers in the Nushagak District. The exact catch for each district is confidential when there are less than three buyers.

Counts and catches have been low in Togiak, but it looks like the run there was late, as it was in other parts of the bay, and the district had the second largest catch on Monday, according to Sands.

Area Management Biologist Matt Jones told KDLG News on July 27 that building numbers appear to confirm that the run was late – but that the numbers were also helped by reduced fishing time earlier in the season. Escapement counts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday were all 10,000 sockeye or more, bringing the season total to 100,000.

Last week, the state Board of Fisheries voted 5-0 to extend the exclusive period in the Togiak District. Those that have fished other parts of Bristol Bay cannot fish in Togiak until Aug. 5. That came at the request of Togiak fishermen, who were hoping the run would be late. It was forecast to be the smallest run in more than a decade.

On the Eastside, Management Biologist Paul Salomone said Monday that the weekend catch was decent, with 123,000 fish caught in the Naknek-Kvichak District on July 26.

KDLG's Dave Bendinger reports...

The Ugashik tower is still tracking escapement, with 43,000 counted Sunday. Egegik and the Kvichak each stopped counting Saturday. Egegik’s last count was roughly 30,000, and Kvichak’s last count was 63,000.

Many fishermen reported that bigger sockeye showed up later in the season. Salomone thinks his Egegik and Ugashik tower crews did see the older, bigger fish toward the end of the season.

“They said there was some pretty nice size fish moving through during the last big shot, the last ten days,” Salomone said Monday.

In other Bristol Bay fisheries news…

Nushagak ice barge stopping for the season

BBEDC’s Nushagak District ice barge, the Bristol Maid, will end operations Aug. 2. The Bristol lady in Naknek ended its ice barging on July 19.

The timing is based on a survey of processors, and BBEDC CEO Norm Van Vactor said no processors were willing to commit to staying late this season.

No confirmed silver buyers

Sands said Tuesday that typically, catches have turned to silvers by this time of year, but sockeye catches are still higher than coho in the Nushagak District.

KDLG has not yet confirmed any buyers for silvers.

KDLG's Molly Dischner reports...

Leader Creek, Red Salmon, Coffee Point in Egegik, Peter Pan, Ocean Beauty, AGS, Silver Bay, Trident and Icicle, have all said they don’t plan to buy silvers this year.

Copper River Seafoods Bristol Bay General Manager Voijta Novak said Monday that his company’s Naknek plant will be open for at least another week, and is busy processing about 200,000 pounds a day of sockeye and chum, but hasn’t made a decision on silvers.

Copper River’s Yarek Hanak says the company hasn’t made a final decisions on buying silvers in Togiak or sending a tender to the Nushagak District to buy silvers there.

Individuals struck on the Alaska Peninsula Highway

One man was killed and one medevaced with injuries in Naknek early Saturday morning after they were struck by a taxi at mile 3 on the Alaska Peninsula Highway at about 4:30 a.m.

Zachary Krom, 25, from Anchorage was pronounced dead at the scene. Krom fished aboard the vessel Melody this season. Joshua Fullmer, age 34, from Boise, Idaho, was medevaced to Anchorage and is in stable condition with what is believed to be a broken pelvis. 

Dead sockeye wash up in Naknek

Wildlife Troopers in King Salmon said Monday they were investigating several reports over the weekend of large numbers of dead sockeye washed up on shore. Sgt. Scott Quist said the sockeye were generally north of the Naknek River. Quist said Troopers were looking into possible causes, but it was too early to say more.

KDLG's Dave Bendinger and Molly Dischner contributed to this report.

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