Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 21, 2020

Jul 21, 2020

A fisherman sleeping on a boat in the Nushagak. July 2020.
Credit Courtesy of Dennis Wilson

The bay-wide total run was 53.5 million fish -- almost 5 million over the preseason forecast, and 8 million over the 10-year average. Harvest across the bay is now at 35.8 million fish, and total escapement for the season is 17.7 million. The Naknek-Kvichak has the highest total run in the bay, and at 13.1 million, it also has the highest harvest.   

The bay-wide total run was 53.5 million fish. That’s now almost 5 million over Fish and Game’s preseason forecast. Bristol Bay has exceeded its projected harvest of 34.5 million fish -- harvest across the bay is now at 35.8 million fish, and total escapement for the season is 17.7 million. The Naknek-Kvichak has the highest total run in the bay, as well as the highest harvest, coming in at a cumulative catch of 13.1 million. 

Fish Market

The big question on everyone’s mind at this time of the season is prices. Dennis Wilson just finished up his season as a dual permit holder in the Nushagak, and he said he’d roll with the prices, whatever they may be. 

 

We’ll be hearing more from Wilson -- and other fishers around the bay -- on our final episodes next  week. If you'd like to offer  

Pricing rumors are all over the board, and not everyone is as philosophical as Wilson. For more on these pricing dynamics, I talked to Garrett Everidge, an economist at the McDowell Group, for our Fish Market segment this week. He walked through the normal timeline for price posting around the state, and why this year might be different. 

Everdige explains how farmed salmon prices could affect prices for wild salmon:

Everidge helps compile a weekly statewide salmon market update for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, and we also talked about how Bristol Bay fit into the statewide picture as we head toward the end of July.

Nushagak District

In the Nushagak District, the daily catch continues to shrink -- it’s at 63,000. There were around 330 sockeye per drift delivery. The district’s total catch for the season is 8.7 million. That’s lower than the past three years, when the district saw some colossal hauls -- in 2018, the fleet’s cumulative harvest was more than 24 million fish. But this year’s total is about a million over the 10-year average of around 7.7 million. Escapement across the district was 43,900, for a season total of 3.6 million. The total run in the Nushagak District is now at 12.3 million. 

Parsing that escapement out by river system...

Nushagak River

The Nushagak River sonar counted 4,700 fish yesterday, for a total of 1.2 million this season.

Wood River

The Wood River’s escapement was 27,600 for a total of 2.1 million.

Igushik River

In the Igushik, the tower crew counted 11,600 fish yesterday, for a total of 273,300. 

Togiak

Togiak’s harvest information has been confidential since July 18, so we don’t have any updated numbers from that district. As of the last public report on July 17, harvest was at 161,400 fish. Last year, the district’s fleet hauled in its biggest catch ever recorded -- more than 1 million fish. We do have escapement numbers though -- 6,666 fish escaped up the Togiak River yesterday, for a total of 70,600 so far this season. The total run there is at 232,000. 

Naknek-Kvichak

The fleet in the Naknek-Kvichak showed the biggest -- publicly accessible -- catch numbers across the bay yesterday. They hauled in 257,000 fish, with an average of around 450 sockeye per drift delivery. The cumulative catch so far in that district is at 13.1 million -- the highest in the bay. Since 2002, only three other years have had harvests this large in the district -- 2014 (13.7 million), 2015 (16.5 million), and 2016 (13.4 million). Daily escapement across the Naknek-Kvichak was also the highest of any district yesterday, at 90,300. That brings the season total escapement to 10.2 million. The total run is now at 23.4 million. Breaking that escapement down by river system…

Alagnak River

34,800 fish were counted escaping up the Alagnak River yesterday, for a total of 2.2 million so far this season. 

Kvichak River

In the Kvichak, 27,600 fish were counted past the tower yesterday, for a total of 3.9 million.

Naknek River

The Naknek River escapement was just slightly higher than the Kvichak, at 27,900 fish. Total escapement in the Naknek is now at 4 million. 

Egegik

Egegik’s fleet hauled in 250,000 fish yesterday. Drift deliveries averaged around 730 sockeye. The season’s total harvest is approaching 12 million -- right now it’s at 11.8 million about where the total harvest was for 2017, and 3 million below last year’s total catch of 14.6. The average harvest from 1952 to 2002 in Egegik was just 4.1 million. 

Daily escapement up the Egegik River was 13,000, bringing that total to 2.3 million. The total run in Egegik is 14.1 million -- that’s the second largest in the bay, after the Naknek-Kvichak.

Ugashik

Ugashik fishermen brought in 145,000 fish yesterday. Ugashik had the highest average number of sockeye per drift delivery yesterday, with drift boats bringing in around 860 fish per delivery. The total harvest is at 1.9 million so far this season. That’s over the total harvest last year of 1 million, and also above the average from 1952 - 2002 of 1.4 million. Still, it is below the 10 year average of around 3.5 million. 

Escapement up the Ugashik was 47,200, for a cumulative of 1.3 million. The total run there is at 3.3 million. 

Chignik

At the Chignik weir, 7,233 sockeye passed yesterday. The season total is 193,475. As of 9 a.m. this morning, the early sockeye run is at 134,687, and the late run is at 61,584.

90 chinook passed the weir yesterday, bringing that season total to 783. 36 pinks for a season cumulative of 571, and 0 chum for a season total of 6.

Area M

Over at Area M, the South Peninsula commercial salmon fishery was closed yesterday so no harvest to report from there.

Over on the North Peninsula, the total sockeye harvest is at 1.2 million. Chinook harvest is at around 1,100. The fleet has hauled in 4,240 chum, pink harvest is at 340, and coho harvest is at 260.

Area M’s cumulative sockeye harvest this season is at 1.7 million, and chinook harvest is at 17,500. Pinks are at 1.9 million, the chum harvest is approaching 575,000, and coho are at 18,000.