Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 15, 2021

Jul 15, 2021

We are closing in on the final day of the KDLG pledge drive! Call us at 907-842-5281 or 907-842-1670 or go to kdlg.org to donate. The drive ends tomorrow.

In other news, Ugashik continues to shine in Bristol Bay. Yesterday the district was the winner in both harvest and escapement. The total baywide run is quickly approaching last year’s season total --- with only a million shy at 56.8 million fish!

Subsistence fishermen on Lake Aleknagik
Credit Stephanie Maltarich / KDLG

2020's preliminary final prices for sockeye are in

The state of Alaska released preliminary estimates for final Bristol Bay prices for sockeye harvested in the 2020 season. Andy Wink, executive director of Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, joins the fish report to help listeners learn a little more about what these numbers mean, and why they are important. 

  The BBRSDA is a financial supporter of KDLG.

Tim Sands' guestimates about the end of the season

Bay-wide, the 2021 season is within striking distance of last year’s total run. And there are still around two more weeks to go. The 2021 forecast was about 51 million fish, but the total run has exceeded expectations with nearly 57 million fish as of yesterday.

With the exception of Ugashik, most districts are winding down. But with the large run this season, it’s anyone’s guess what the final count will be. West Side Area Management Biologist Tim Sands said he’s satisfied with the season so far.

“There’s lots of speculation on how high it’s going to go – I saw FRI said 66 million,” said Sands. “I’m not worried about it. I think the Nushagak is going to end up around 27. There’s somewhere between a million and 3 million fish that people are guessing at.”

A bay-wide run of 66 million fish would be the largest run in recorded history. The previous record was in 2018, when 62.9 million salmon returned to the bay. Sands said while he thinks a few days of good fishing remain, he’s unsure if it’s going to be a record year.

“We’ve already started tailing off, obviously,” said Sands. “We’ve had a million plus days for days in a row and we dropped down below a million and a couple days at 500,000 or so. It kind of seems like we’ll keep dropping down but we might have one or two days it’ll pop back up.”

Sands said that while the numbers may continue to drop, the data from the Port Moller Test Fishery will keep him on his toes through the weekend. 

“We’re all really curious to see what happens to the Port Moeller index that happened on the 11th – they had a really big index on July 11,” said Sands. “In my mind, those fish would be here on the 18thish. Genetics showed 22% was Nushagak fish so I’m really curious to see what kind of volume that represents.”

Time will tell if the fish are heading to the Nushagak for one final run.  Sands says as the sockeye season winds down, the department will transition to managing the coho fishery sometime in the next two weeks.

A weather update from Climate Specialist Rick Thoman

Teresa Duncan plays us out 

Dillingham musician Teresa Duncan stopped by the studio today to share a few songs about fish, Dillingham and the joys of rural Alaskan life. 

Messages to the Fleet

To Ben Boettger onboard the Bad Whiskey:

 

Happy Birthday Ben, hope you are having a profitable, safe season. Beware the Kraken! Love Mom, Dad, and Daniel

 

Happy Birthday to Paul Jones on the Whiskey Creek out in Bristol Bay - with lots of love from Salt Lake City

 

Happy 10th birthday to Colben Ahrens on the shores of Ekuk. We love you!  Love, your family

 

To F/V Maverick:

Stay safe. Only five more times (smiley face emoji). 

 

The Numbers

The total baywide run hit 56.8 million yesterday, and that’s roughly a million shy of  last year’s season total of 57.8 million. 

Daily harvest in the bay hit 1.5 million fish yesterday, which pushed the total harvest to just over 35 million fish. Four million more fish, and we’ll be at last year’s total. 

786,093 fish swam up river yesterday thanks to Ugashik’s massive run. The district contributed to almost half of the bay’s escapement. That brings the season total escapement to 21 million so far, three million more than last year’s total of 19 million.

To keep things consistent, we’ll start with the West Side. 

Nushagak 

Yesterday’s harvest in the Nushagak District was down just a bit with 353,000 fish. The season total so far is 16.8 million; the district continues to blow last year's total harvest out of the water. Nushagak drift nets hauled 81% of yesterday’s catch with 12% going to the set nets. Unspecified gear accounted for 4% while Igushik set netters hauled in 3%.

Escapement increased a little bit yesterday, as 165,117 fish swam up river. Total escapement in the Nushagak is just over 9 million fish.

Nushagak River

Sockeye in the Nushagak River picked up a bit yesterday with 48,693 swimming by the sonar. The sockeye season total is now 4.5 million.

Daily Chinook runs continue to teeter totter, yesterday they were on the up with 1,618 fish. The Chinook season total is now 52,259.

Daily chum runs are keepin’ consistent, albeit down a bit yesterday at 2,218 fish. The chum sum is 120,361.

Wood River

Wood River’s escapement stayed consistent with almost 94,662 fish. That puts the total escapement at 3.9 million fish. As of this morning, 29,484 fish have passed the tower.

Igushik River

Escapement in the Igushik saw another decline yesterday as 21,762 fish passed the counting tower. That puts the cumulative run at 705,228. As of this morning, 4,314 fish swam through.

Togiak 

Harvest in Togiak was relatively the same, coming in at 26,000 fish. The season total broke the 200,000 fish barrier at 202,145.

Daily escapement hit 8,802 fish yesterday, bringing the season total to 58,602 fish.

Naknek-Kvichak 

Naknek-Kvichak’s daily harvest came in at 393,000 fish. That puts the season total at almost 7.3 million fish. Naknek-Kvichak drift nets hauled in 73% of the catch while Naknek set nets brought in 14% and 13% went to Kvichak set nets.

Yesterday’s escapement in the district came to 219,522 fish. The escapement so far this season comes to 9.3 million, which is the largest in the bay. 

Alagnak River

Alagnak’s escapement came to 62,500 which pushed the season total in that river to 2.6 million fish.

Kvichak River

Kvichak River escapement was 82,278 fish to put the season total at 4.2 million.

Naknek River

Last but not least, 75,000 fish swam up the Naknek River; total escapement is now 2.5 million fish.

Egegik 

Harvest in Egegik was down by roughly 100,000 fish yesterday, with a daily catch of 304,000. The season total so far is 7 million. Drift nets hauled in 84% of the catch while 16% went to set nets.

Daily escapement was pretty consistent, with nearly 37,000 fish. The total run in Egegik is 1.6 million. 

Ugashik 

Ugashik ends a three day, 600,000 plus harvest streak, but still leads the bay with its daily catch. Ugashik fleets harvested 481,000 fish, pushing the season total to over 3.6 million. Drift nets hauled 87% of the catch while 13% went to set nets.

Escapement was off the charts with 355,728 fish swimming upriver. Ugashik’s total season escapement now sits at nearly 781,836 fish.

Chignik Weir Counts 

Escapement in the Chignik Weir came to 13,834 sockeye, bringing the season total to 290,804. 30 Chinook also passed through the Weir yesterday, that total is now 359 fish. As of 9:00 a.m. this morning, 24 more sockeye passed the weir along with 12 Chinook.

Area M 

Out in Area M, 100,269 sockeye were harvested. The total escapement is now 5.2 million.

The chum catch was low with 31 fish yesterday. The seasonal chum sum comes to 909,536.

18 kings were harvested yesterday. The season total for them remains at around 5,046. 

No Pinks or Cohos were harvested yesterday. The total run for pinks so far is 3.4 million and 9,431 coho.

Port Moller numbers 

And now for the update out of the Port Moller Test Fishery:

Station 2 caught zero in the four and a half inch mesh and three in the five and eighth. The catch index is 8.

Station 4 reported no catch.

Station 6 caught eight in the four and a half inch mesh and two in the five and eighth. The catch index is 30.

Station 8 caught 12 in the four and a half inch mesh and six in the five and eighth. The catch index is 60.

Station 10 caught 21 in the four and a half inch mesh and nine in the five and eighth. The catch index is 78.

Station 12 caught three in the four and a half inch mesh and one in the five and eighth. The catch index is 11.

Vessel Registrations Thursday July 15, 2021 to Saturday July 17, 2021

There’s currently 234 vessels in Egegik and 77 D-Boats. That number will remain the same through Saturday.

In the Naknek-Kvichak there are 531 vessels in the water with 140 D-Boats. That will jump to 534 vessels on Saturday, but D-boats will stay the same.

In the Nushagak, there’s currently 269 vessels and 75 D-boats. That decreases to 268 vessels on Saturday with 75 D-Boats.

In Ugashik, 240 vessels are registered in the district, 100 of those are D-Boats. That takes the largest jump of any district on Saturday to 276 vessels 111 of which are D-boats. Keep it up Ugashik!

Contact the fish team at fish@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.