Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 8, 2021

Jul 8, 2021

It was another million-fish-day in the Nushagak. Harvest for the Nushagak is now more than 50% above average for the past few years. While other districts aren’t quite as prolific, fishermen are still pulling in those nets. 

 

Nushagak fishermen loading up
Credit Hope McKenney

West Side Update 

The Nushagak’s harvests are unprecedented. Fishermen here have caught more than a million fish for seven of the last eight days. 

That is tremendous, says Area Management Biologist Tim Sands.

“In 2018 we had six days over a million harvests, but that’s the only thing that’s come close,” said Sands. “Up until 2017 I don’t think there was ever a day in Nushagak Bay that caught over one million sockeye in a day.”

Sands says the catch numbers aren’t just brushing the million fish mark -- they’re blowing past it. 

“Not by just squeaking over, the last two days were 1.5 ish, yesterday 1.2, last week 1.7 and 1.8 all-time records...it’s pretty exciting.”

While the Nushagak’s streak will, inevitably, end, Sands thinks the run will finish strong. 

“Right now for the Nushagak we are right at the 20 million run, I am hoping we creep up to 27 million, which seems pretty doable at this point,” he said.

Sands said the unexpected large run is due to the Nushagak River producing a lot more fish than expected. Many of the 1-2s are returning. 

As for the why -- Sands said they will be able to know more when they crunch numbers after the season ends. 

Port Moller Jodi Estrada

Credit courtesy of Jodi Estrada

The Port Moller Test Fishery embarked on a groundbreaking experiment this summer: an onboard genetic testing lab.

A solitary biologist was tasked with that testing: Jodi Estrada had previous experience as a scientist and manager at the genetics lab in Anchorage. 

Rick Thoman Weather

We’ll have a short burst of weather tomorrow followed by some sunshine. As we hear from Climate Specialist Rick Thoman. 

Messages to the fleet

A shout out to the crew of the Vega! We are rooting for all you guys: John, Ryan (Da-da) and the Flagstaff boys (Quinn, Tad & Roomi)!! From all of us in Salt Lake City & Flagstaff!

The Numbers

The total bay-wide run is now 34.8 million fish -- almost 70% of the forecasted run of 51 million. Daily catch was 2.6 million fish yesterday. The season’s total harvest so far is 21.1 million. 

The BBRSDA has crunched some numbers on this seasons harvest compared to the 2016-2020 average. The bay’s harvest is 29% above the average harvest at this point in the season.

Yesterday, 1.6 million fish escaped around the bay, bringing the total escapement to 12.7 million so far -- almost at the forecast of a little over 13 million. 

Nushagak District

Yet another million-fish harvest in the Nushagak yesterday -- the fleet caught 1.2 million fish. Drift deliveries averaged around 1,300 sockeye each. Since June 30, the fleet has harvested more than a million fish on all but one day. The total harvest is at 12.7 million.

That’s 56% above average for this time in the past four years. 

Drifters have caught 83% of the cumulative catch. Nushagak set netters have hauled in around 11%, and Igushik set nets have caught just over 2%.

502,937 fish escaped in rivers around the district yesterday, bringing this season’s spawners to 7.1 million so far. 

The district’s total run is at almost 19.8 million. That is 4 million fish over the 15-million-fish forecast. 

Nushagak River

Sockeye escapement up the Nushagak River was 207,539 yesterday, for a total of 3.8 million so far. 

Daily Chinook escapement is continuing on that slow, steady trajectory 2,905 Chinook swam up river yesterday, bringing the season’s total to 44,518.

Chum numbers surged up yesterday, as 10,920 chum escaped. The total escapement is now at 81,529.

Wood River

Almost a quarter-million, 242,418, fish swam up the Wood River yesterday, and another 50,100 passed the tower as of 6 a.m. this morning. The Wood River’s total escapement is at almost 2.9 million.

Igushik River

To the Igushik now -- 52,980 fish escaped yesterday, and another 6,500 6,498 passed the counting tower this morning. Total escapement there is at just under 397,986.

Togiak

Togiak’s harvest was up yesterday; the fleet hauled in 18,000 fish, bringing cumulative catch to 64,951. There were an average of 251 sockeye per drift delivery yesterday.

In the Togiak River, around 3,450 fish escaped yesterday, and around 900 fish swam up river as of 6 a.m. this morning. The season’s total escapement is at 15,168.

Togiak’s total run is at 79,243 -- a little short of the forecasted 82,000-fish run.  

Naknek-Kvichak

Total harvest in the Naknek-Kvichak is now over 3 million, as fishermen caught 561,000 fish yesterday. The average drift delivery was 619 sockeye yesterday.

The harvest there is just about in line with the four-year average by July 7. 

The drift fleet has harvested 62% of the district’s total harvest, while Naknek set netters have hauled in 19% and Kvichak set netters have caught another 19%.

Escapement is looking strong -- almost a fourth of the district’s total escapement of 4.4 million returned yesterday; daily escapement in the Naknek-Kvichak was over 1 million fish. 

The district’s total run is at 8.2 million. That’s about halfway to the forecast of 17 million fish.

Naknek River

475,560 fish escaped past the Naknek counting towers yesterday, bringing the river’s total escapement to 1.7 million. 

Kvichak River

352,230 swam up the Kvichak yesterday, bringing that total escapement to 1.7 million as well. 

Around 800,000 fish are swimming up the river.

Alagnak River

In the Alagnak, around 206,92 fish swam up river yesterday, for a total of almost 959,850.   

Egegik 

Egegik’s daily catch was up yesterday -- the fleet hauled in 610,000 fish, for a total of 4.5 million this season. Yesterday, there was an average of 935 sockeye per drift delivery.

Drifters have harvested 83% of that cumulative catch, and set netters have caught 17%. 

Egegik’s cumulative catch is slightly below the four-year average for this point in the season.

Around 67,752 fish escaped up the Egegik River yesterday, for a total escapement of 1.1 million. 

The river’s total run is at 5.7 million, which is halfway to the forecast of 11 million fish. 

Ugashik

Ugashik’s fishermen were back on the water yesterday, catching 206,000 fish. While that wasn’t the biggest harvest in the bay, average drift delivery there was a whopping 1,925 fish per drift delivery. 

The season’s total harvest is almost 874,875. That’s above the four-year average for this time in the season -- 13% higher, to be exact. 

Drifters have caught the vast majority of that total -- 94% -- while set netters have harvested about 6%.

Ugashik’s total run is 924,031. That’s just 14% of the 6.6 million forecasted return. 

Chignik Weir

At the Chignik River Weir, 6,501 sockeye passed through the weir yesterday, and just over 2,000 late-run sockeye swam through. The early run is at 222,805, and the late run is at 20,173.

The minimum escapement goal for the early run is 350,000 sockeye, while the late run’s minimum goal is 200,000. The Chignik’s sockeye run is also far below the forecasted run of 875,000 fish. 

The sockeye run up the Chignik River is tracking about 100,000 fish higher than last year, and -- in line with the 2019 run. 

43 Chinook swam through the weir yesterday. The total Chinook run is at just 98. That’s just 7% of the minimum escapement goal of 1,300 Chinook.

Area M 

At Area M, fishermen harvested 146,000 sockeye yesterday, for a season total of 4.4 million. Pink harvest was almost 54,000, bringing that cumulative to 3.3 million. Yesterday’s chum harvest was almost 50,000 -- that total is at 862,600. Chinook harvest bumped up a bit yesterday -- fishermen harvested 600 kings, for a total of 3,700. 

Port Moller Test Fishery

At the Port Moller Test Fishery, the Ocean Cat fished stations 8 - 18 yesterday.

Technician Scott Raborn says that large catch indices show the run has a strong tail. 

Looking at the catch indices by station:

Station 8 caught 43 fish in the 4 1/2 inch mesh and 36 in the 5 1/8. The catch index is 163.

Station 10 caught 14 fish in the 4 1/2 inch mesh and 9 in the 5 1/8, for a catch index of 60.

At Station 12, 47 fish were hauled in with the 4 1/2 inch mesh, and 27 were caught in the 5 1/8, bringing the catch index to 159.

Station 14 saw 7 fish in the 4 1/2 inch mesh and 7 in the 5 1/8, for a catch index of 34.

Station 16 hauled in 0 fish in the 4 1/2 inch mesh and 24 in the 5 1/8, for a catch index of 55. 

Finally, no fish were caught at Station 18.

Vessel registration Thursday July 8 9:00 a.m. to Saturday July 9 9:00 a.m.

The Nushagak will see its first decline in quite a few days. There are 552 vessels registered in the Nushagak District, 176 of those are D-boats. That will decrease a bit by Saturday morning, with 542 boats registered, 171 of which will be D-boats. 

The Naknek-Kvichak, meanwhile, will get a little more crowded over the next 48 hours. There are 344 vessels registered to fish there, 80 of which are D-boats. That goes up to 380 on Saturday -- 93 of those will be D-boats. 

Egegik’s fleet will shrink a bit. There are currently 263 vessels, 82 of which are D-boats. On Saturday morning, 259 vessels will be registered there. The number of D-boats remains at 82.

Ugashik’s fleet will see a bit of a boost on Saturday. It’s at 104 vessels, 48 of which are D-boats. In 48 hours, that will go up to 113 vessels, 51 of which will be D-boats. 

Finally, Togiak’s fleet will remain at 31 registered vessels through Saturday.

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