Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 7, 2020

Jul 7, 2020

The season’s first million-fish harvest in a single district happened in Egegik yesterday, and, according to BBRSDA, the baywide daily harvest yesterday was the second biggest since 2012. It’s KDLG’s pledge drive this week -- donate so we can keep telling you fun facts about fish.

 

Two fishermen in the Nushagak District. July 2020.
Credit Courtesy of Dennis Wilson

 

We have the first million-fish catch day in the bay! Egegik harvested more than 1 million fish, and the Naknek-Kvichak district and the Nushagak both had harvests over 950,000. 

The total run across the bay jumped by 4 million fish yesterday, to 15.5 million fish.

With respect to Egegik’s big catch yesterday, Egegik management biologist Aaron Tiernan had this to say in an email, “Wow! That was impressive. Based on Port Moller, there is still a good amount of fish to come.”

A boat sinks in the Nushagak district.

“I have never picked so much fish in my life in one opener” - Nushagak drifter describes a big opener

In some lighter news, KDLG’s Tyler Thompson caught up with commercial fisherman Dennis Wilson to talk about the latest runs. Wilson was born and raised in Dillingham, he’s out fishing with his two cousins. This is his seventh year as a permit holder, and has fished Bristol Bay for 15 years.

They were out Sunday at Flounder Flats when they picked 18,000 pounds worth of fish.

It takes a steady temperament to ride the emotional waves of fishing -- especially when the fish haven’t hit yet. As harvests ramp up in Bristol Bay, anticipation is turning to optimism. As the McDowell Group’s Garrett Everidge says, this year is still below forecast -- for now. KDLG’s Izzy Ross talked to Everidge about the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s weekly market update.


Yesterday, we heard about the N&N Cannery History Project and an upcoming exhibit. This evening, KDLG’s Tyler Thompson and project director Katie Ringsmuth talk about the history of the 1919 pandemic at a Bristol Bay cannery. 

 

Messages to the fleet:

To: Dorian on F/V Dr Jack. I hope you guys are filling up the boat and having a great season so far! From: Lauren

To: Capt. Brent Cathey on the F/V Independence

 

Have been unable to get unicorn pajamas and self-waxing kit you asked for. Can it wait until after halibut?  Miss you more than your brother. 

 

All my love, 

Montana Chick

 

The Numbers:

 

Nushagak District

957,000 fish were harvested in the Nushagak District yesterday, bringing the total harvest in the Nushagak district to 3.4 million fish. The total catch is attributed 3% to Igushik set-netters, 24% to Naknek set-netters, and 69% to the Nushagak drift fleet. 4% of the harvest came from unspecified fishers. 

Total daily escapement across the Nushagak yesterday district was 47,000 fish, bringing total running escapement in that district to 1.1 million. 

The total run in the Nushagak District is 4.6 million, the third largest run in the bay at the moment. 

Nushagak River

The Nushagak River sonar counter saw 37,000 fish pass as of 6 a.m. this morning. Yesterday, the sonar counter saw 8,700 sockeye pass the counter, bringing total escapement of sockeye in the Nushagak river to 474,000 fish.

The sonar also counted 700 chinook salmon for a total king escapement of 34,800, and counted 2,600 chums yesterday, bringing chum escapement in the Nushagak to 61,100. 

Wood River

In the Wood River, the counting tower crew counted 47,200 fish past the tower before 6 a.m. this morning, which makes total escapement so far in the Wood River 652,000 fish.

Igushik River

The Igushik River tower crew counted 900 fish past the tower before 6am this morning. Escapement there is now 47,000. 

Togiak

Fishermen caught 4,000 fish in the Togiak District yesterday, for a cumulative district catch of 15,500. 

The counting crew in the Togiak River counted 850 fish past the tower as of 6 a.m., bringing escapement in the Togiak District to 2,500 fish.

Altogether, that makes the total run in the Togiak District 17,200 fish. 

Taking a look at the eastside…….

Naknek-Kvichak

The Naknek-Kvichak District still currently has the largest run in the bay, at over 5.8 million fish. The fishermen in the Naknek-Kvichak District caught 989,000 fish yesterday. The total harvest in the Naknek-Kvichak is now 3.7 million fish, attributed 7% to Kvichak set-netters, 18% to Naknek set-netters, and 75% to the drift fleet. 

Escapement across the Naknek-Kvichak District yesterday was 626,000 sockeye, bringing district-wide escapement to just over 1.5 million fish. If we break that down into the 3 rivers of the district:

Alagnak River

40,300 fish escaped in the Alagnak River yesterday, bringing escapement in that river to a total of 161,000 fish so far. 

Kvichak River

The Kvichak tower crew counted 107,000 fish past the tower yesterday, for a total escapement in the Kvichak of 214,000. The Kvichak River also has a 550,000 fish in-river estimate. 

Naknek River

In the Naknek River, 479,000 fish escaped yesterday, making the total escapement in the Naknek River 1.2 million. 

Egegik

The Egegik District had the largest catch yesterday, but remains the second-largest run in the bay at 4.9 million. Fleet caught over 1 million fish yesterday. Total harvest in the Egegik district is now 4.1 million fish, attributed 86% to the drift fleet and 14% to the set-netters.

Escapement in Egegik was 183,000 fish yesterday, bringing the district’s escapement to 650,000. The in-river fish estimate in Egegik is 160,000. 

Ugashik

67,000 fish were caught in the Ugashik district yesterday. Total harvest in the Ugashik district is now 212,000, 62% by drift boats and 38% by set-netters, the highest set-net allocation in the bay.  

3,400 sockeye escaped in the Ugashik District yesterday, bringing that district’s escapement to 37,400. Adding the 40,000 fish in-river estimate, the total run in the Ugashik district is 289,000. 

Chignik

At the Chignik weir, 1,912 sockeye passed yesterday, and as of 1pm today, another 7,690 fish had passed the weir. This brings the season total sockeye escapement at the Chignik weir to 109,305 fish, 98,662 in the early run, and 10,643 in the late run. 

12 kings passed the weir this morning, bringing the total king escapement in the Chigniks to 206. 

Area M

There was a harvest yesterday in Area M, but because there are less than 3 processors buying fish down there, the harvest information is confidential. 

Set, drift, and seine gear operations had openers in various sections of Area M that ended at 3pm this afternoon. It remains to be seen whether that harvest information will be made public. 

Permit registration on July 7 9:00 a.m. to July 9 at 9:00 a.m.

But Sage, where are all the boats fishing? I’ll tell you. There are 1,691 permits fishing on 1,312 boats. That’s 933 single-permit vessels and 379 D boats. At 9 a.m. on July 9, that will rise to 1,324 vessels, 380 of which will be D boats. Now, by district:

Egegik has the most vessel registrations in the bay right now at 434 boats, or 33% of the bay’s fleet, 138 of which are D boats. The number of vessels will stay the same in 48 hours, 434 boats, but they’ll have lost one single-permit vessel and added a D boat for a grand total of 139 D boats. 

Registration is second-highest in the Naknek-Kvichak, where 419 vessels are fishing, 126 of which are D boats. That’s 32% of the boats baywide. On Thursday morning, the district will add 3 single permit boats for a total of 422 boats, with the same 126 D boats. 

The Nushagak District has the third most registrations, with 29% of the bays vessels fishing there, or 383 boats, and 105 D boats. The Nush will also keep its same number of D boats, 105, in the next 48 hours, but be fished by a total of 388 vessels. 

Togiak has added 2 boats, for a total of 38 vessels and no D boats. That won’t change in the next 48 hours, and is still 3% of the fleet. 

Ugashik also is being fished by 38 boats right now, 10 of which are D boats. Ugashik will overtake Togiak at 9am on Thursday, when it will be fished by 42 boats, 10 of which will still be D boats. 

Port Moller

There was no fishing at the Port Moller test fishery yesterday due to poor weather, but we have a stock composition summary!

34% of the 170 fish included in the analysis were headed to Egegik. 23% were headed to the Kvichak, 18.5% are going to the Naknek, 8% were going to the Alagnak, 6% to the Nushagak, 5% to the Wood, a little over 4% to Togiak, and 1.3% to Ugashik, .6% were going to Igushik.

 

Correction: The percent allocations of harvest by gear type are calculated from the cumulative harvest, not the daily catch as initially reported.