Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 5, 2019

Jul 5, 2019

The Nushagak saw its second largest catch of the season so far yesterday, but the Wood River Special Harvest Area hasn’t opened yet. The Togiak River counting tower is up and running, giving us our first escapement numbers from the district.

Fishing boats in the Dillingham harbor ahead of the 2019 season.
Credit Alex Hager / KDLG

Welcome to the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report. The Nushagak saw its second largest catch of the season so far yesterday, but the Wood River Special Harvest Area hasn’t opened yet. The Togiak River counting tower is up and running, giving us our first escapement numbers from the district. Egegik had a bump as well, and escapement numbers in the Naknek River haven’t been hampered by hot water yet.

On the fourth of July, southern Alaska experienced some record hot temperatures. The mercury climbed up to 89 in King Salmon, setting an all time record high -- passing the previous mark of 88 in June 1953. 

KDLG’s Sage Smiley is in King Salmon and has a report on how the heatwave is affecting water temperatures.

 

It’s been hot pretty much everywhere across this part of Alaska, so we wanted to take a look at the science behind the heatwave. Michael Kutz is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He says a large, hot air dome is pushed up over most of the state -- and that’s bringing warm air up from lower levels.

 “Being over land," Kutz said. "As far in as King Salmon is, for instance, is enough to give it some additional capability to heat. It was that way for a lot of stations across the lower two thirds of mainland Alaska yesterday.” The previous daily record for July 4 was 84 degrees, set in 1997. According to Kutz, yesterday’s temperature surpassed the average high for that date by 25 degrees -- King Salmon usually hovers at 64 degrees. He also says a lack of humidity has made things feel particularly hot.

“A lot of dryness overall," Kutz said. "A lot of the locations across the state, we’re seeing temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s, and basically it’s all hot, dry air. Being under the dome of high pressure is basically bringing everything out and pushing it out to the side, and that’s what’s keeping it warm for everybody.”

Under normal circumstances, coastal communities like King Salmon or Dillingham would be cooler because the water would help  *moderate* the temperature.

“But being that the rest of the air over land is being heated," Kutz said. "Virtually no cloudiness above it to block out the sun coming in."

Port Moller’s numbers from last week are indicating that Bristol Bay’s total run will likely exceed the forecast of 40.2 million – and is shaping up to be closer to 50 million. KDLG’s Izzy Ross broke down the numbers with analyst Scott Raborn. 

Credit Alex Hager/KDLG

On the west side, the Nushagak District caught 840,000 yesterday, bringing the season cumulative to just short of 8 million, at 7.96 million. Breaking down the Nushagak catch, 81% came from drift nets and 19% came from set nets.

Yesterday’s escapement in the Nushagak was 76,000, pushing the cumulative up to 1.55 million. The Wood River accounts for 1.07 million of that escapement total, with 450,000 fish going up the Nushagak River and 33,800 escaping in the Igushik.

Also on the west side, we have our first escapement numbers from the Togiak River, now that the tower is up and running. 888 fish made it up the river on the first day of counting – and another 384 between midnight and 6 AM this morning.

Harvest in the Togiak just cracked 100,000 after yesterday’s catch of 21,000.

We’ll have more on those first Togiak escapement numbers later in the show.

Over on the east side, Egegik posted the day’s highest catch totals with 496,000. The season cumulative is 4.19 million. Escapement in Egegik yesterday was 43,200, bringing the season escapement up to 666,700.

The Naknek-Kvichak caught 395,000 fish yesterday, pushing the cumulative up to 2.34 million. Escapement in the district was 115,000 yesterday. 104,000 of that came from the Naknek River, with 8,000 fish up the Kvichak and 2,000 in the Alagnak. The season cumulative escapement for the district is 778,000.

And finally, there was no fishing in the Ugashik yesterday, leaving the district’s cumulative catch at 109,900. The Ugashik river saw 4,170 fish go past the tower for a season cumulative of 21,600.