Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 18, 2018

Jul 18, 2018

Bristol Bay’s salmon run is usually starting to taper off by mid-July, but this year’s proving an unusually late run for many districts. We talk with an expert who isn't ruling out the chance that the Bay's total run could crack 60 million.

Bristol Bay's bounty just won't quit this year.
Credit Bruce Ilutsik

Bristol Bay’s total run has topped 60 million fish in just three years since the '60s, according to Curry Cunningham of the University of Washington Fisheries Research Institute (FRI). That includes 61 million in 1965, the largest run on record of 67 million in 1980 and 63 million in 1995. The run had reached 56 million by July 17, 1995, just slightly ahead of where Bristol Bay was on Tuesday at 51.1 million. 

Based on the final Port Moller Test Fishery results from July 11, Cunningham predicted strong catches Wednesday and Thursday and then a gradual tapering off of the salmon run. Without those daily Port Moller numbers to draw from, Cunningham said the FRI relies on catch and escapement averages from previous years to make predictions. If run timing proves to be four to five days late, here's how much of 2018's catch and escapement he predicted has yet to make it through Bristol Bay's districts: 

  • Egegik: 10 to 13 percent remains
  • Naknek-Kvichak: 15 to 19 percent
  • Ugashik: 34 to 39 percent
  • Nushagak: 10 to 14 percent
  • Togiak: 62 to 66 percent

Cumulative C E Comparison: Comparison of daily cumulative C E observed for Bristol Bay in 2018, and expected daily values (blue curve). Expected daily values are calculated relative to the 2018 preseason forecast and the average distribution of inshore arrivals (1980–2017). Connected gray dots show the 2018 observed daily cumulative C E. Green dashed line represents expectations if the run is 2 days early, red dashed line if the run is 2 days late.
Credit University of Washington Fisheries Research Institute

Visit the website here for more details about the Fisheries Research Institute.

At an emergency Board of Fisheries meeting on Tuesday, five of seven board members voted voted to declare an emergency to ensure further conservation measures will be taken to protect Chignik salmon stocks. There have been no commercial sockeye salmon openers in the district this year because neither the early nor the late run of reds to the Chignik River appear able to meet their escapement goals.

Finally, KDLG's Mitch Borden takes us to Aleknagik where a net hanger has spent 41 years pouring her heart and soul into helping fishermen keep their spirits up. Rather than just knotting gillnets, she leaves little love notes on her customers' corks to help fishermen through the long days and night pulling in sockeye.

Catch this program at 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on AM 670, and online at KDLG.org. We are now tapering our fishing coverage for the summer. This week we will air shows on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then we'll be back with a final wrap up Fisheries Report on July 27. Thanks for following our show this summer!

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

Have feedback, suggestions of something you'd like to hear? Reach Avery Lill / Izzy Ross / Austin Fast / or Mitch Borden (in Naknek).

Contact the author at austin@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.

(L to R) Will Menzies, Capt. Nick Sotiropoulos and Edwin Litteneker of the F/V Flyin Tiger wash out fish holds and prepare to head home Tuesday after a successful season in the Nushagak.
Credit Austin Fast / KDLG
Greenhorn Hattie Dull and deckhand JR Haukins of the F/V Baze were among the few fishermen whose boats sat in Dillingham's small boat harbor on Tuesday.
Credit Austin Fast / KDLG
Hey, fishermen! If you get any spare time away from your boat, we here at KDLG highly recommend a hike up Snake Lake Mountain. Just be careful driving there!
Credit Austin Fast / KDLG