Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 10, 2020

Jul 10, 2020

Escapement in the Wood River passed 1.2 million fish yesterday, triggering the opening of the Wood River Special Harvest Area. Listen for info about sport fishing, a COVID-19 survey for fishermen, and, as always, the numbers. 

A slough near the abandoned Queens Cannery, June 2020.
Credit Courtesy of Nels Ure

Escapement in the Wood River passed 1.2 million -- that means the Special Harvest Area opens to the Nushagak drift fleet tonight.


The baywide run is 27.3 million fish -- more than half of the pre-season forecast of a 48.9 million total run. Daily catch yesterday was 2.1 million, for a total season baywide harvest of 18.8 million. Escapement across the bay yesterday was 1.5 million fish, for a total season escapement of 7.3 million fish. 

Average fish per drift delivery is slightly down, around 900 fish per delivery. That’s excluding Togiak.



Wood River Special Harvest Area opens to the drift fleet

Escapement in the Wood River has passed 1.1 million -- it’s currently at 1.2 million -- so Fish and Game opened the Wood River Special Harvest Area to drifters from 6:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. tonight, and again from 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. July 11.

The special harvest area is opening to the drift fleet because they are just a bit behind the harvest allocation goal of 74% -- they’ve brought in just over 73% of sockeye salmon in the Nushagak District.


New restrictions for anglers


Anglers in the Nushagak have to deal with a new set of restrictions to sport fishing starting today. Fish and Game issued a bag possession and annual limit reduction for king salmon. Those restrictions were in response to the low run indicators and low numbers at the sonar site.

The bag limit for sockeye salmon increased in the Alagnak, Naknek, Nushagak, and Wood River drainages. 

Lee Borden, the area management biologist for sport fish biologist in Bristol Bay, says these management decisions are fairly commonplace for this time of year. 



“This year, it’s simply a reduction so it doesn’t really shake things up too much, it just lets people know that we’re paying attention to things and we’re concerned with the low numbers.”

The sonar site is designed to count sockeye, not kings, which biologists take into account when deciding on restrictions. But Borden says this year’s king counts are especially low. 


“We’re certainly concerned with the numbers, and that’s why you saw earlier in the season the commercial fisheries division was taking some preemptive actions to try and get kings upriver, so this is our way of saying that we’re paying attention to the numbers and we have some concern.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to severely restricted travel this season, and that’s had an effect on effort in the Nushagak this season; Borden says that effort in the river is roughly a third of what it normally is, and they’re taking that into account as they make management decisions.


“We’ve been getting similar reports around the bay as well -- not just in the Nushagak -- that effort is relatively low.” 

Still, Borden says, enough people are fishing to necessitate additional conservation measures. 


COVID-19 survey 

Gabe Dunham with the Alaska Sea Grant called in to talk about a COVID-19 survey geared towards Bristol Bay residents and fisherman. Researchers conducting the survey are with the University of Alaska and Penn State. Here is that conversation between KDLG’s Tyler Thompson and Gabe Dunham.


Again, the website to fill out that survey is

Messages to the fleet:

A shout out to Josh and the Cenci girls at Iron Mike's fish camp on the shores of Egegik.  Wishing you sinking corks and sore hands.  Stay safe and we will see you in a couple weeks.  


Dan Amy Leith and Barb.  

To: Capt. Brent Cathey on the F/V Independence

Dropping a quick note in between cleaning out your 3 walk-in closets. Will need to know what to do with your collection of “Golden Girls” VHS tapes. Also - can I donate some of these parachute pants to Goodwill? MC Hammer called and he wants his wardrobe back.

All my love again,

Montana Chick

This is to the Captain and Crew of the Bonnie B somewhere on the Bay.   Hey Captain Mike it's that time of year again - National Slurpee Day on 7-11.  Know your missing that day again so I arranged for a rain check.  Perhaps the crews on the other boats can let Mike know what he's missing - Slurpee Day!   Stay safe and catch a bunch for me.     GC in Charleston SC 

To: Captain Keith on the Dire Straits


Happy Birthday KB! Hope you are knee deep in fish and rhubarb pie. 


Sending our love from Prince William Sound and False Pass!



To Captain Doug Morgan fishing vessel Miss Emma


        Doug, Bob and Mike got early release due to the virus. Probably best to keep your head on a swivel. Also, apparently the town of Palmer has filed a restraining order against you. Contact the city manager


July 10th is my sister's birthday and since she’s out fishing it’s always tough to wish her Happy Birthday. Please wish her Happy Birthday from her brother DJ on July 10th!


Kymberly Mariscal wishes  Shannon Couch on the Icarus A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, We can’t wait to celebrate with you!

Another birthday message for Shannon Couch: Happy Birthday from your brother DJ! 

Could you please wish Shannon a happy birthday on the Icarus from Randy

For Shannon Couch on the F/V Icarus from Linda:

Every Fishie in the Sea is bringing you a Happy Birthday wish from me.





See you in Aug with Red Bull Shooters

at the door! just a delayed Birthday Party!

Love you, from another Mother, Linda.



I never think of you as my Daughter in Law - Only as my Daughter in Love.







Nushagak District

Fishermen caught 745,000 sockeye yesterday in the Nushagak District, pushing total harvest so far in the Nush to 5.7 million--the third-largest total catch in the bay. That total catch is attributed 3% to Igushik setters, 24% to the setters in the Nushagak, and 73% to the drift fleet in the district. 

Escapement district-wide in the Nushagak was 428,000 fish yesterday, rounding out Nushagak District escapement at 2.1 million fish. Let’s look at that escapement by river:

Nushagak River

The Nushagak River sonar counted 153,000 sockeye yesterday, bringing escapement of sockeye in the Nushagak River to 861,000. 

The sonar also counted 24 kings, bringing Nushagak king escapement ton 38,000, and 6,300 chums, bringing chum escapement to nearly 98,000. 

Wood River

The tower crew in the Wood River counted 63,000 fish past the tower by 6 a.m. this morning, pushing the Wood River escapement to 1.3 million.

Igushik River

And in the Igushik River, the tower crew saw 4,500 sockeye pass the tower before 6 a.m. this morning, bringing escapement in the Igushik River to 58,000. 

Total run across the Nushagak District is 7.9 million, the second largest total run in the district right now. 


A 12,000 fish catch in the Togiak District yesterday brought the season total harvest in that district to 52,000 fish. 

2,500 fish escaped in Togiak yesterday, and 800 fish escaped this morning before 6 a.m., which makes the season total escapement in that district 7,200 fish. Total run in the Togiak District so far is 58,000. 


Daily catch in the Naknek-Kvichak District dropped off a bit yesterday, totaling 600,000 fish. The Naknek-Kvichak total harvest is now the second-largest in the bay, at 6.3 million fish. The cumulative catch was apportioned 7% to Kvichak set-netters, 14% to Naknek set-netters, and 78% to the drift fleet.

Across the Naknek-Kvichak District, 872,000 fish escaped yesterday, which makes the season total escapement across the Naknek-Kvichak District 3.8 million fish. Let’s look at that escapement by river. 

Alagnak River

137,000 fish escaped up the Alagnak River yesterday, bringing total escapement there to just over 500,000 fish. 

Kvichak River

The Kvichak River had an escapement of 232,000 yesterday, which makes total escapement in the Kvichak 817,000. The Kvichak also has an in-river fish estimate of 1 million fish.

Naknek River

503,000 fish escaped in the Nushagak River yesterday, bringing the season total escapement there to 2.5 million. 

Altogether, the Naknek-Kvichak total run is 11.1 million--the largest run in the bay at this point in the season. 


The Egegik District had the largest daily catch in the bay yesterday: 824,000.

The total season catch in Egegik so far is 6.4 million. That’s attributed 85% to the drifters and 15% to the set-netters. Egegik has just out-caught the Naknek-Kvichak district and now has the highest cumulative catch in the bay. 

Escapement up the Egegik River was 249,000 fish yesterday, bringing the season’s escapement in Egegik to over a million--1.2 million to be exact. Along with the estimate of 180,000 fish in-river, the Egegik total run is 7.8 million fish: the third largest total run in the bay. 


There was no catch in the Ugashik District yesterday, the cumulative catch in Ugashik is still 285,000 fish. 

30,000 fish escaped yesterday in Ugashik, bringing the total escapement in that district to 81,500. Adding the 100,000-fish in-river estimate, Ugashik’s total run is 467,000 fish. 

Permit registration on July 10 9:00 a.m. to July 12 at 9:00 a.m.

But who’s zoomin who? And who’s fishing where? There are 1,621 permits fishing on 1,272 vessels baywide. That’s 923 single-permit vessels and 349 D boats. At 9 a.m. on Sunday, registrations will increase to 1,319 vessels baywide, 375 of which will be D boats. 

The Naknek-Kvichak has the most vessel registrations in the bay. Almost 34% of the fleet are fishing there: 429 boats, 129 of which are D boats. In 48 hours, that will jump by almost 50 boats, to 476 vessels, 154 of which will be D boats.

Egegik has the second most vessel registrations in the bay, and 33% of the fleet is fishing there. 420 boats, and 133 D boats. On Sunday morning, that will drop by 1 to 419 boats, with still 133 of those being D boats. 

The Nushagak will also see a bit of a drop over the next two days. 27% of the fleet, or 343 boats, are fishing there, 80 of which are D boats. In 48 hours, that will drop about 10 boats, to 334 total boats, 75 of which will be D boats. 

Togiak is being fished by 3% of the fleet, or 41 boats, which won’t change in the next 48 hours. 

And Ugashik has another 3% of the fleet: 39 boats, and 7 D boats. At 9am Sunday, that will jump to 49 boats, 13 of which will be D boats. 


5,082 sockeye passed the Chignik weir yesterday, and by 9am this morning, another 450 passed the weir. That makes the total sockeye run in the Chigniks 126,820: 110,051 in the early run, and 16,769 in the late run. 

Also yesterday, 24 kings passed the weir. Added to the 12 kings that passed this morning, the total Chignik king run is 302. 

Area M

Fleet in Area M caught 178,000 sockeye yesterday, bringing the season total harvest across Area M to 852,000.

There was also a daily harvest of 414 chum salmon, 35 kings, and 3 pinks. 

Port Moller

Fishing picked up again at Port Moller yesterday, with indices comparable to the predicted peak at Port Moller of July 5th. Scott Raborn says that doesn’t necessarily mean a huge push of fish will actually show up at the bay, but that fishing should remain strong for at least another week. 

Here are yesterday’s Port Moller indices:

Station  Index

Station 2 had an index of 10 -- 1 in the 4 ½ and 2 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 4  had an index of 167 -- 22 in the 4 ½ and 53 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 6  had an index of 205 -- 52 in the 4 ½ and 30 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 8  had an index of 44 -- 9 in the 4 ½ and 7 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 10 had an index of 250 -- 68 in the 4 ½ and 28 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 12 had an index of 77 -- 13 in the 4 ½ and 14 in the 5 ⅛.

Station 14 had an index of 81 -- 8 in the 4 ½ and 27 in the 5 ⅛.


Correction: The percent allocations of harvest by gear type are calculated from the cumulative harvest, not the daily catch as initially reported.