Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 1, 2021

Jul 1, 2021

More than 1.9 million sockeye returned to the Nushagak District -- the fleet hauled in its largest single-day harvest ever of 1.773 million fish. The timing isn't a surprise, but the sheer size definitely is.

The crew of the F/V Cutting Edge. Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Credit Hope McKenney

A commercial fisherman has died after a vessel sank in the south end of Nushagak Bay on Thursday morning with three people on board. Authorities credit Good Samaritans on the scene with helping in the rescue.

One person dead, two saved after fishing boat sinks in Nushagak Bay

Nushagak fleet hauls in highest single-day harvest ever, as more than 1.9 million sockeye return to the district

Nushagak District fishermen caught the most fish -- ever -- in a single day in the history of the district. 

 

Brailer full of fish. Wednesday, June 30, 2021.
Credit Hope McKenney

Josh Crozby owns and operates the tender Icelander. He and his crew were on the south line of the Nushagak River, about 25 miles downriver from Dillingham. Crozby said the huge swell of salmon caught them by surprise.

Area Management Biologist Tim Sands said the hit of fish sparted a storm of reaction unlike anything he’d ever experienced. 

“We were super excited here yesterday. I was getting calls like I’d never gotten before, and so I knew something was up and I was really optimistic that we were going to have a big number, and so we were happy to see it when it came in this morning,” he said.

Managers were expecting a push of fish; in the past few years, the district has seen a peak around June 26, and then a lull before another big hit. And Port Moller catches have shown a lot of fish headed to the Nushagak. So they were startled by the size of surge, rather than the push itself.

“The magnitude is what’s surprising, I guess," Sands said. "Not that there was a lull or any of that other stuff happened, just that how many fish hit all at once yesterday. That’s what’s really the amazing thing is -- this wall of fish came in.”

Yesterday’s harvest of 1.773 million sockeye narrowly edged out the previous record harvest, which was from the same day in 2018. 

“So according to my records, it was June 30, 2018, when we harvested 1.772 million," Sands said. "So we didn’t beat it by much. But it’s hard to beat a number that big by much.” 

The drift fleet harvested the bulk of yesterday’s catch, while set netters didn’t haul in as much.

“A lot of fish pushed in the middle of the district in the west channel," Sands said. "Then I think eventually they spread out from there.” 

A difficult wind made for tough fishing for Igushik set netters, while Sands heard Ekuk set netters may have had more activity yesterday evening. 

The Nushagak District’s total run is at 6.8 million -- that’s tracking along the lines of 2017 and 2018, which were both record years. The run is stronger than expected, but how much stronger remains to be seen.

“Of course we’re happy about that, everything looks good, and we’re just going to hold on for the ride,” Sands said.

Nushagak drifters have an opener going through 3 a.m. Thursday morning, with another opener from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Thursday.

A fisherman in the Nushagak. Wednesday, June 30, 2021.
Credit Hope McKenney

Stormy weather in the forecast -- with a silver lining

That wind and rain won’t calm down anytime soon. As we hear from Climate Specialist Rick Thoman, the bay will continue to be wet and windy -- but there might be a silver lining. 

 

Messages to the fleet

Edward Feran on the F/V The Nezzen.

                Ed,

                                We hope that you have a safe and happy  4th of July. Mya and Conner are doing good with their baseball and softball games. Mason will be learning how to ride a bike without training wheels this summer and tie his shoes. We love and miss you. We hope your season is full of happy memories and an abundance of fish. For a little laugh Mason is going around telling people you are in Alaska not Onalaska.  Love, Dani and kids.

The numbers

The baywide run is at 10.5 million fish -- yesterday’s run was 2.5 million. Around the bay, 2.3 million fish were harvested, bringing the total catch to 6.4 million. Escapement is at 300,450, and the cumulative is now 4 million. 

Nushagak District

The harvest in the Nushagak District was -- say it with me now -- the largest single-day harvest ever. The fleet harvested 1,773,000 fish. That is just 1,000 fish more than the previous record of 1.772 million fish. 

It’s also more than one third of the season’s total catch so far of 3.7 million.

The drift fleet hauled in 85% of that total catch. Nushagak set netters harvested around 12%, and set nets in the Igushik caught around 3%.

 

The district’s escapement was 150,258, and total escapement in the district is 3.1 million. 

The total run in the Nushagak is 6.8 million 

Nushagak River

In the Nushagak, 54,800 sockeye escaped yesterday, bringing total escapement to 1.8 million. That is more than 300,000 fish over it’s upper-end goal of 900,000.

Chinook escapement is still creeping up -- yesterday, the sonar counted around 1,856 kings swim upriver. The total king escapement is now at 26,251.

And chum escapement was down to 1,276 yesterday, for a lump chum sum of 44,448.

Wood River

The Wood River had the biggest daily escapement in the district yesterday. But it did drop off a bit from its high earlier in the week, after another day of openers in the special harvest area. 

Daily escapement was 76,650 fish, and another 25,254 fish swam past the counting tower as of 6 a.m. this morning. Total escapement up the Wood is now at 1.3 million -- right in the middle of its escapement goal range of 700,000 - 1.8 million.

Igushik River

In the Igushik River, 18,774 fish escaped yesterday, and another 6,444 escaped as of 6 a.m. this morning. The total escapement there is now at 106,134. That’s almost at the lower-end escapement goal of 150,000.

Togiak

The fleet in the Togiak harvested 4,300 yesterday with an average of 284 fish per drift delivery. There are still no escapement numbers for Togiak.Total harvest there is now at 14,753.

Naknek-Kvichak District

The Naknek-Kvichak hauled in 183,000 fish yesterday, for a season total of 409,913.

Drifters caught 67% of that cumulative catch, while Naknek set netters harvested 16% and Kvichak set nets caught 15%.

Escapement around the district was 96,990, for a total of 227,778.

Naknek River

The Naknek River saw 3,390 fish escape yesterday, for a total of 86,676 fish so far this season.

Kvichak River

The Kvichak had another bump in escapement today, breaking yesterday’s season-record. The count was 59,550, for a total of 102,216.

Egegik

Egegik had a large-ish harvest yesterday; the fleet hauled in 357,000 fish, bringing the total harvest over 2.1 million. The average drift delivery yesterday was 643. 

Egegik’s drift fleet has harvested over four-fifths -- 82.7% -- of the total harvest so far, while set netters have hauled in 17.3%. 

Escapement up the Egegik River was 49,092 yesterday, bringing that total to 681,138. Egegik’s total run is at 2.8 million fish.

Ugashik

The Ugashik district did not have any harvest yesterday and the season’s total remains at 225,932.

4,110 fish escaped up the Ugashik bringing the total escapement to 18,348. The total run is at 240,170.

Chignik

At the Chingik River, 14,628 sockeye passed the weir yesterday. Another 2,610 sockeye swam through as of 5 p.m. today. The total so far is at 168,572. The early run is at 159,918 and the late run is at 8,654.

Area M

The Area M fleet caught 79,096 sockeye yesterday, bringing the total to 3.4 million. The fleet also caught 56 Chinook. That total is now at 2,925. Finally 39 chum were caught for a total of 801,731.

 

Port Moller Test Fishery

Inclement weather kept both vessels off of the transect yesterday. The next few days look promising though.

You can get an abridged version of the Port Moller updates sent directly to your phone via text message.  To sign up to the texts, just text four letters PMTF to the following number:  833-612-1053

Vessel Registration Thursday July 1 9:00 a.m. - Saturday July 3 9:00 a.m.

 

The Nushagak is the most crowded district right now -- there are 554 boats registered in the Nushagak District, 187 of which are D-boats. That increases just a bit Saturday morning to 557 boats, while D-boats go down to 185.

Next up is Egegik, where 337 boats are registered, 104 of which are D-boats. Those numbers go down slightly on Saturday, with 329 boats and 100 D-boats.

In the Naknek-Kvichak, boat registration is at 264 -- 47 of those are D-boats. In 48 hours, those numbers go up pretty significantly, to 294 boats and 60 D-boats.

In Ugashik, there are 81 boats registered, and 38 of those are D-boats. Ugashik’s registrations increase on Saturday to 90 vessels and 44 D-boats.

Finally, Togiak’s fleet remains the same, at 27 vessels.