Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 10, 2019

Jul 10, 2019

We're halfway through the KDLG pledge drive, and we need your support to keep giving you news like this: Across the bay, the cumulative catch has now passed the preseason forecast of 26.1 million. 

 

Boats moored at a Naknek harbor on July 10, 2019.
Credit Sage Smiley/KDLG

Across the bay, the total run is now 31.5 million – less than 10 million away from its preseason forecast. The cumulative catch has now passed the preseason forecast of 26.1 million, with 26.48 million fish harvested by all 5 districts so far this season. 


The Naknek-Kvichak hauled in its second biggest daily catch of the season, and Egegik’s total run is now 9.4 million, blazing past the preseason forecast of 8.7 million. Ugashik’s run is only around 12% of its preseason forecast of 3.3 million.

The Pandalus fished its last set of the 2019 season at the Port Moller Test Fishery yesterday. In the past several days, the test fishery has experienced the highest water temperatures in 35 years. We talk to analyst Scott Raborn about how those temperatures may have affected the recent sets.

 

A biologist at the University of Washington Fisheries Research Institute gives his perspective on the run so far, including some surprises from Egegik's early, large run.

We also check in with Travis Elison, management biologist for the Naknek-Kvichak, about the district’s second-largest haul of the season.

Photo-enthusiast fishermen in Naknek on July 10, 2019.
Credit Sage Smiley/KDLG

The weather in southwest Alaska has been extraordinary this summer. The Port Moller Test Fishery is no exception; this year has the warmest water temperatures on record. 

The two vessels had trouble catching many fish yesterday, with only 33 in 12 sets. Analyst Scott Raborn said that may not be a full representation of the run, since the fish may be migrating deeper than they were earlier this season. 

The sun beat down on the transect for several days, with virtually no wind or waves. That means the water is very clear and the light penetration is high, making it easier for fish to see the net. For now, all analysts can do is speculate about how those conditions might be impacting the run. But they were still compelled to implement a change. 

Port Moller normally fishes with multifilament gillnets. But to offset the effects of those clear conditions, over the past three days the vessels have fished some near-simultaneous sets with the deeper monofilament net.

Because fish are better able to see the multifilament net, they may also be diving below it. The run may also be swimming deeper in general, due to the hot water temperatures.

According to the test fishery, good numbers of reds are being caught in the bottom 30% to 40% of the monostrand net, which is out-fishing the multistrand net by a good margin. 

Raborn said the test fishery hasn't released the full results of those simultaneous sets yet, but he did say they are promising. 

The weather forecast at Port Moller looks like more of the same for the next several days. The F/V Pandalus fished its last set yesterday. The second vessel, Ocean Cat, may fish as long as July 17.

 

Catch this program nightly live at 6 p.m., with replays at 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on AM 670, and online at KDLG.org. (With early broadcasts of the numbers Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.)

Letters from home to your friends and family in the Bay this summer? Email us at fish@kdlg.org or call 907-842-5281.

Have feedback or suggestions of something you'd like to hear? Reach Izzy Ross / Tyler Thompson / Alex Hager / Sage Smiley (in Naknek)

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org 907-842-2200.