Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 16, 2021

Jul 16, 2021

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It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later as the Port Moller Test Fishery hung up the hat for the season.

Yesterday, the bay-wide run inched just over 59 million fish, officially crushing last year’s total. The last time the bay surpassed 60 million was in 2018. Ugashik continues to be this week’s MVP leading the bay in escapement. 

Credit Stephanie Maltarich / KDLG

Ugashik fisherman thankful for the harvest

Fleets in the Ugashik District have stayed busy over the past week. Fishermen harvested over 600,000 fish a day for three days in a row.

Jeremy Rubingh returned for his seventh season on the F/V Eva. He says like every year, he’s grateful for the opportunity to fish in the Ugashik. 

“Ugashik has been great, it’s been a strong steady run, and just big beautiful fish, and every single year it’s an honor to be a part of in such an amazing thing,” he said. “You get reminded of the volume of fish and how  special this is in the world”  

Yesterday's escapement in the Ugashik brought the season total to 1.2 million, a number well on track to meet the forecasted goal of 500,000 -1.4 million fish. 

“There’s different management goals from year to year, the run is right at its forecast if not right at it, a little early this year,” said Rubingh. “I think we are starting to see a typical end of the run, possibly a strong tail, but things are tapering off.” 

In addition to fish swarming the Ugashik, the number of boats has also increased.

“In the last two or three days, certainly a lot of boats have poured in,” said Rubingh. “I think with the transfer being waived in a few days you’ll see people leaving people going in the whole gambit.”

Rubingh is happy everyone in the district is doing well this week, he knows the Ugashik can be a challenging place to fish because of its remote location.

He is also thankful for another special perk this year: the ability to raft up and meet with friends on the water; a tradition he missed last summer during the pandemic. 

Report from the Chigniks

KDLG’s Izzy Ross hopped on a Chignik-bound plane yesterday. The area is experiencing yet another low return this season and shares some observations on how the community is dealing, and their plans for the future. 

Fish delivery...by plane?

When it comes to delivering salmon, time and temperature are the twin scourges of fresh fish. That’s according to E&E Foods, a Washington based seafood company.

If fishermen wait too long to deliver, or if the fish get too warm during the transport, the fish’s quality begins to diminish. 

To maintain freshness and ensure a speedy delivery to processors, E&E Foods began using airplanes to haul fish. On June 28, the production company flew 35,000 pounds of iced sockeye in totes from King Salmon to their plant located in Kenai. 

The flight is two and a half hours, and crews can unload fish as quickly as 23 minutes. Fish is then driven to the E&E foods’ processing plant, about a mile from the airport. 

The company works with cargo companies such as Everts and Lynden Air to move fish as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Three planes full of sockeye have successfully made it from King Salmon to Kenai so far, and the company expects shipments to continue as long as their plant is able to handle the shipments. 

More information can be found on E&E’s website at www.eefoods.com.

Feel better, fishermen!

It’s common knowledge that life on a boat coincides with a lot of shiny things flying through the air. Eye protection is key in the fishing industry. Today on Feel Better, Fisherman, Dr. Cathy Hyndman talks to us about various eye injuries, and when you should seek help. 

Messages to the fleet

To Paul Jones on the Whiskey Creek:

Happy Birthday out in Bristol Bay - with lots of love from Salt Lake City.

Hope your mullet is doing well, Mr. Jofis. Best wishes from the Durango crew!

Shout out to Will Faulkner on the F/V Quantum Leap from the Erica Leigh!

This one is for the Duta Family fishing @ Coffee Point:

Papa Duta, Becky, Andrew, Emily, Bradley, Wade, I hope you’re knocking them dead & the fishing is great. Becky thanks for the great Home cooking. Enjoy the rest of the Season, all the best, Matt. 

The Numbers

Fish folks, the total run is at 59 million. The last time the bay saw 60 million fish was in 2018, that year 62 million fish returned to the bay. 

Harvest across the bay came to 1.3 million fish, and about half of the total harvest went to the Naknek-Kvichak District. That puts baywide harvest at 36.4 million fish. 

Escapement broke one million yesterday, and the Ugashik District provided about half of that run! Season total escapement is now 22 million.

Nushagak District

Daily harvest in the Nushagak was down a bit yesterday but not by much, fleets pulled in 240,000 fish. That puts the season total at 17 million. 

Daily escapement saw an uptick, at 173,041 fish bringing the season total to 9.3 million fish. 

Nushagak River

Sockeye escapement improved yet again, coming in at 64,711 fish. The season total is now 4.5 million.

Chinook were down yesterday but not by a ton, with 763 passing the sonar. The season total for kings is 53,022.

Chums saw its second lowest run of the month, coming in at 858 fish. The season’s Chum sum is now 121,219 fish. 

Wood River

Wood River escapement hit 87,846 fish yesterday to push the season total to 4 million. As of 6 a.m. this morning, 20,166 more fish have passed the tower.

Igushik River

Escapement at the Igushik counting tower hit 20,484 fish bringing that season total to 725,712. Another 5,700 passed the tower as of this morning.

Togiak 

Yesterday’s harvest in Togiak was an even 20,000 fish to put the season total at 221,941.

Yesterday Togiak’s escapement hit 11,000 fish yesterday, which puts the season total at 70,056 fish. 

Naknek-Kvichak District

It looks like the Naknek-Kvichak District led the bay in daily harvest yesterday. That catch came in at 530,000 fish to put the season total at 7.8 million. Breaking that down by gear, Naknek-Kvichak drift nets hauled 77% of the catch with 13% going to set nets and 12% going to Kvichak set nets.

Daily escapement hit 257,394 fish to push the season total to a Baywide leading 9.6 million fish. 

Alagnak River

Escapement in the Alagnak River was 90,234 fish. The season total is now 2.7 million.

Kvichak River

Kvichak River escapement was 106,410 fish, the season total is 4.3 million.

Naknek River

Escapement in the Naknek River was 60,750 to put the season total at 2.5 million fish. 

Egegik District

Harvest in the Egegik District came to 242,000 fish. That puts the season total catch at 7.3 million. By gear, 84% went to drift nets and 16% to set nets.

Escapement was a bit higher yesterday, at 48,756 fish. Cumulative escapement for the district is 1.7 million.    

Ugashik District

Now time for the star of the week: the Ugashik District. We’re not biased, they’re just posting the highest numbers in the bay this week.

Harvest cooled off a bit, but it was still a significant haul yesterday with 328,000 fish. Total harvest is 3.9 million for the season so far and continues to crush last year's season-end total. Drift nets hauled 87% of the catch with 13% going to set nets.

The district also led the bay in escapement and matched its preseason forecast in a single day at 511,098. Escapement is now at 1.2 million fish.

Chignik 

Escapement in the Chignik River yesterday was 8,938 sockeye and 48 Chinook. As of 9 a.m. this morning 65 sockeye passed the Weir and six Chinook. The season total for sockeye is 299,778. For Chinook’s, it’s 402.

Area M 

Area M was busy yesterday! Let’s break down the catch by species:

Sockeye catch came in at 163,961 fish to push the season total to 5.3 million.

After a day of zero pinks, 69,258 the fleet hauled in season total at 3.4 million fish.

A larger number of cohos were harvested yesterday at 15,423 fish. That puts the season total to 26,364.  

Port Moller numbers 

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later as we have the final update from the Port Moller Test Fishery.

Stations 12, 14 and 20 reported no catch.

Station 6 caught three in the four and a half inch mesh and five in the five and an eighth. The catch index is 21.

Station 8 caught one in the four and a half inch mesh and four in the five and an eighth. The catch index is 13.

Station 10 caught two in the four and a half inch mesh and one in the five and an eighth. The catch index is 8.

Station 16 caught zero in the four and a half inch mesh and four in the five and an eighth. The catch index is 11.

Station 18 caught six in the four and a half inch mesh and five in the five and an eighth. The catch index is 28.

Vessel Registrations Friday July 16, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. through Sunday July 18, 2021 9:00 a.m.

Boats are stagnant in some places in the bay, but Ugashik and Naknek-Kvichak District’s will see the most change in the next couple of days.

Egegik will stay the same over the next 48 hours with 245 vessels, 80 of those of which are D-boats.

The Naknek-Kvichak had 528 vessels in the water this morning, 140 of those are D-boats. That changes to 531 vessels on Sunday, but D-boats will remain at 140.

In the Nushagak, there’s 261 vessels registered, 71 are D-boats. That will decrease to 260 vessels on Sunday with 70 D-boats.

In Ugashik, there’s 257 vessels and 106 D-boats. On Sunday that will jump to 276 vessels, 112 of which are D-boats.

Togiak remains the same with 35 boats registered.

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