Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 1, 2022
The Nushagak District broke the record for single day harvest: The fleet caught 2.46 million salmon on Thursday. Average drift deliveries there had more than 2,000 sockeye. Ugashik fishers are still bringing in the heaviest loads.
The Nushagak District broke a record for the largest single-day harvest. Fisherfolk caught 2.46 million salmon on Thursday. That’s about 600,000 fish over the previous record daily harvest, which was set last year.
The district had back-to-back record harvests exactly one year ago, when fleets caught 1.7 million on June 30 and 1.82 million on July 1. Fish and Game Area Management Biologist Tim Sands says the trend for runs like this is relatively recent – but it has become a regular occurrence.
“It wasn’t until 2017 that we even really broke a million sockeye salmon harvest in a day and that was amazing," he said. "And then it was happening every year, now to break two million is just — wow.”
Port Moller technicians predicted a big run would hit the bay this weekend. Sands said a pattern has emerged over the last few years; big runs hit the district around June 26, followed by a lull, and then another peak around June 30 and July 1.
“When we saw the forecast for the wind on the 30th I was telling people, ‘Hey, that's going to be the day, the fish are going to show up then,’" he said. "And they did."
Port Moller numbers indicate the district runs will stay high for another few days, but Sands said he's unsure whether the daily harvest record will be broken again any time soon.
“I think if you ever use June 30 2022 as the bar, things will always be slower," Sands said. "But I think it's still good fishing out there. My guess is we will catch more than a million fish again today.”
Tyone Raymond, who fishes on the F/V Mr. Fox in the Nushagak District, said fishing has been great — despite terrible weather.
“We were out fishing all day and all night, and it was blowing pretty hard," he said. "Fish were piling in.”
While Bristol Bay’s sockeye runs are breaking records, king runs up the Nushagak have been weak. Raymond said he and his crew try to help Chinook escape.
“Whenever we see some big kings come in we check immediately to see if they’re alive, and if they’re alive we put them right back over the side in the hopes that they might go up and increase their escapement numbers,” he said.
While Port Moller numbers indicate strong runs this weekend, that pace may slow down next week.
Safety training in the bay
Bristol Bay’s commercial fishing season is known to be fast-paced and profitable. But that comes with challenging conditions and unexpected danger. Ahead of the season, a deckhand training course drew new and returning crew members to cover essential skills like knot tying, operations, safety training and more. KDLG’s Corinne Smith reports.
For more information and training videos on how to keep yourself and your crew safe this season, visit amsea.org/resources. To contact the US Coast Guard in case of emergency call (907) 428-4100.
A reading from Fred Hatfield's North of the Sun, on the Bristol Bay fishery in the 1930s
Fred Hatfield traveled from the Lower 48 to Alaska in the 1930s, eventually making his way to Bristol Bay, where he lived for many years. He also fished here, and writes about the experience in his memoir 'North to the Sun,' which was first published in 1992.
It’s Food Friday! A time to tune in for recipes, leftover inspiration, or to whet your palate. To kick off July we have a couple ideas from Martin Speak on the F/V Little Moose and Laura Potts on the Okuma.
Messages to the fleet
To Tim and Rubis on the Tender Wolverine
Katie Bursh says hi.
She also wanted to request a song by Tom Maloney about Ugashik.
3.9 million salmon came through Bristol Bay yesterday. The bay-wide run so far now nears 20 million.
Over 90% of that run was harvested by fisherfolk. The bay’s cumulative harvest is now nearly 14.4 million salmon.
Escapement yesterday was only 235,560 with a cumulative of 5.5 million spawning salmon.
The Nushagak District had a strong day: 2.6 million fish swam through the waters there for a total run so far of 11.4 million salmon this season.
Fisherfolk had the largest single-day harvest in the 130-year history of the district. Fishermen hauled in 2.46 million salmon for a cumulative total of 7.2 million fish. Average drift deliveries were 2,085 sockeye.
Escapement was 122,960 for an escapement total of 4.2 million fish.
Only a third as many fish came through the Nushagak on Thursday as they did the day before. About 34,056 passed the sonar for a total of 2.46 million salmon in that river.
Only 369 kings came through for a total of 40,888 fish — double the day before. The chum run was down by almost half with 2,251 fish for a total of 64,413 chum.
Sockeye escapement up the Nushagak was way down – only 31,436 came through compared to over 800,000 earlier this week. Total escapement is now 2.35 million sockeye.
The Wood River’s run was also down, though not as drastically as the Nushagak. 76,542 fish came through on Thursday, and another 18,534 fish swam past the tower this morning. The Wood’s total escapement is now just over 1.8 million, right at the upper escapement goal.
The Igushik tower counted 14,982 fish on Thursday and another 1,164 this morning. Igushik escapement is now 72,918 fish so far.
Togiak’s fleet caught 1,800 fish on Thursday, bringing the total harvest to 11,906. The Togiak River has yet to report an escapement.
The Naknek-Kvichak District had about 442,054 fish come through, the total run there is now 2.46 million salmon. Drifters brought in an average of 894 sockeye per delivery.
Harvest in there was 370,000 fish for a cumulative total of 1.7 million salmon. The district’s escapement was at 72,054 fish for a cumulative total of 649,434 fish in the three rivers there.
And to break it down by river,
The Naknek River had about 32,226 fish swim past its tower for a total of 347,010 so far.
The Kvichak River had almost identical numbers on Thursday – the escapement was just slightly higher than the Naknek at 32,304 fish. There’s an in-river estimate there of 60,000 fish and the cumulative count for the Kvichak is 273,342.
The Alagnak started counting escapement later in the season, so it’s numbers are lower: 7,524 fish escaped on Thursday for a running total of 29,082.
Over in Egegik, 596,916 fish came through the district, and another 40,000 are estimated in the river. The total run there is now 5.3 million salmon.
Harvest was 558,000 fish on Thursday for a total of 4.6 million so far. Fisherfolk averaged 1,349 fish per drift delivery.
Escapement was at 38,916, the total escapement there is now 651,762 fish.
217,830 fish came to the district for a cumulative total of 757,148 salmon.
206,000 were harvested with the heaviest nets in the region on Thursday with an average of 2,321 sockeye per drift delivery. Total harvest is now 740,290 fish.
10,000 fish are estimated in the river, but the counting tower only counted 1,830 salmon. The season escapement so far is 6,858 fish.
Chignik Weir Counts
The Chignik River Weir has still not updated their counts since June 27.
Area M is scheduled to close until Wednesday, July 6.
Port Moller Test Fishery
Port Moller numbers have started to improve. Test Fishery Technician Scott Raborn says fish are beginning to return to some of the outer stations.
Stations 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12 caught zero fish.
Station 4 caught 2 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 1 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 8.
Station 5 caught 31 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 19 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 133.
Station 8 caught 0 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 1 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 3.
Station 10 caught 0 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 6 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 16.
Station 14 caught 34 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 78 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 198.
Station 15 caught 11 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 6 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 41.
Station 16 caught 62 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 37 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 198.
Station 17 caught 0 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 6 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 12.
Station 18 caught 1 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 14 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 38.
Station 20 caught 12 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 4 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 42.
Get in touch with the fish team at email@example.com or 907-842-2200.