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Gillnetters hit the Togiak herring fishing grounds for the first time this season

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Gillnetters normally fish along the bluffs in Kulukak, but since wind is in the forecast today, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game provided more options for the fleet.

Gillnetters arrived on the grounds of the Togiak herring fishery today. They can fish from Picnic Beach, on the east side of Kulukak Bay, and around Right Hand Point up to around Nunavachak Bay.

Gillnetters normally fish along the bluffs in Kulukak, but since wind is in the forecast today, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game provided more options for the fleet. Management biologist Tim Sands said winds higher than 15 to 20 knots could make the area east of Right Hand Point un-fishable.

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“If it’s too windy for them to fish there, then they can go around Right Hand Point and maybe find some areas to fish on the west side of Right Hand Point,” he said.

Spawning is underway, although the fish are smaller than normal.

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“We did a big survey yesterday — lots of fish, lots of spawn," he said. "The fish size is small for what we’re used to in Togiak, but it’s still holding above 300 grams, which is good.”

Despite a robust start to this year’s spawning, Sands said, some of the catches have been less than ideal.

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“Some of the fish they’re finding are still immature," he said. "There’s some spawn-outs mixed in. And then the fish size — I really want to keep the fish size above 300 grams.”

Sands expects at least three gillnetters to fish this season. The gillnet areas are now closed to the purse seiners, who began fishing when the season started on Monday.

Contact the author at izzy@kdlg.org or 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.
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