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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 13, 2022

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Photo courtesy of Nick Rahaim
/
Crewmembers on the Diamond V after a haul

Bristol Bay fleets are sailing past the record-breaking harvest now. Fishermen caught another 2.3 million sockeye on Tuesday, for a bay-wide harvest of 48.8 million. The bay’s total run jumped to the second biggest on record at 64.2 million fish.

The Ugashik’s run is now at 5.6 million fish. Aaron Tiernan the district’s area management biologist says Fish and Game expects the run to go above the 6.25 million forecast.

“Right now, based on what we're seeing currently, we're projecting it out to be about a seven to nine million total run," Tiernan said.

Escapement is at 960,000, over the midpoint of the goal range, which is a good place to be, Tiernan says.

“Ugashik came on strong early in the season and fleets were able to put together some really good harvests early on. And the fish this year seem to be moving up river with a good passage rate, as opposed to milling like they tend to do sometimes," he said.

Ugashik may see its largest run on record. The previous record was set in 2016, when 8.3 million fish returned. That’s followed by 8 million last year. The biggest harvest was also in 2016 with 6.6 million fish caught.

“That probably equates to about a 10,000 pound average," he said. "So it's been really good to see. And it's been nice that we've gotten a good fish passage up river and passed our first statement. So I've been really pleased with how things progressed there this year.”

Tiernan says the fishing has been consistent, with the fleet hauling in an average of 2,200 to 2,500 sockeye per delivery.

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Limits lifted for Ugashik set netters

This is the first day in almost two weeks that the fishing limits are lifted for set netters in the Ugashik District. According to one fisher, the limits were first imposed on July 2. Ugashik fisherfolk have had multiple days with average drift deliveries at over 2,000 sockeye, and processors there have struggled to keep up.

Fishermen have only been able to bring 3 to 6 thousand pounds of fish per day.

In previous years processors have sent fish to Egegik, but fishermen told KDLG that this year plants in both areas are struggling to keep up with the volume.

KDLG reached out to E&E Seafoods, the processor for set netters in the Ugashik, but it did not respond in time for this broadcast.

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Caitlin Tan / KDLG
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COVID alert

COVID cases are rising around the region. The state is reporting at least 20 positive cases among Dillingham residents, as well as 2 cases in the Dillingham Census Area in two different communities. Across Bristol Bay in the Lake and Peninsula Census Areas, at least 41 cases were reported in six communities.

It's also shown up in fish processing plants around the region. For more, we speak with Mary Swain, executive director of the Camai Community Health Center in Naknek.

Mary Swain, with the Camai Community Health Center on the current COVID wave

In Naknek

The east-side of Bristol Bay has been seeing some huge harvests, specifically the Naknek-Kvichak district. For more we have correspondent, and former fish reporter, Mackenzie Mancuso on the ground in Naknek.

Mackenzie Mancuso reporting from Naknek

Weather Wednesdays

For Weather Wednesday, we speak with climate specialist with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, Rick Thoman.

Rick Thoman on this week's forecast

The numbers

Bristol Bay fleets are speeding past the historic record of total harvest with an additional 2.3 million bay-wide harvest Tuesday, for a total of 48.89 million fish caught so far this season. Another 867,086 fish escaped up rivers to their spawning grounds, for a total of 14.67 million. The in-river estimate is 675,000 fish. The total bay-wide run is now 64 million fish – the 2022 run is now the second largest on record.

Nushagak District

Nushagak District’s total run is now at 27.75 million fish. That’s the third largest on record. The Nushagak’s biggest run was 33.7 million in 2018, and 2021 was the second highest at 28.3 million fish.

The Nushagak fleet hauled in 711,000 fish on Tuesday, for a total catch of 20.8 million. Average drifters brought in 753 sockeye per delivery.

189,020 sockeye escaped for a total count of 6.9 million so far.

Nushagak River

The Nushagak River had 66,908 sockeye swim upriver on Tuesday. Cumulative sockeye escapement for the Nushagak is 3.29 million.

The chum run has dwindled down over the past couple days – just 335 chum returned Tuesday for a total of 85,484.

The Chinook count is still low and below the minimum escapement goal: Only 48 Chinook returned for a count of 42,863. The minimum escapement goal is 55,000.

Wood River

The Wood River had 112,866 fish come through on Tuesday with another 10,782 fish this morning for a total run of 3.4 million fish.

Igushik River

The Igushik River had another 9,246 fish come through with 4,062 this morning. Total escapement there is now over 215,730.

Togiak District

The Monday run in Togiak had 2,994 fish come through Tuesday, and 678 this morning. Total escapement is now over 26,328.

The Togiak fleet hauled in a bigger harvest Tuesday with 19,400 fish, and average drift deliveries at 184 fish. Total harvest there is now just over 134,000.

The total run in Togiak is now just over 159,000.

Naknek-Kvichak District

The Naknek-Kvichak District’s total run is now 15.7 million fish.

On Tuesday, harvest dropped slightly to 796,000 fish for a total harvest of 10 million sockeye. Average drift deliveries there were 1,016 sockeye. Escapement was lower at 557,298 for a count of about 5.18 million, along with another 500,000 estimated in the rivers.

And to break it down by river,

Naknek River

The Naknek River had 111,618 fish escape past the tower for a total of 1.6 million this season. The escapement goal there is between 800,000 to 2 million fish.

Kvichak River

The Kvichak River had another big surge of fish that came by their tower with 290,622 fish, and 500,000 are estimated in that river. Kvichak escapement is now at 2.62 million sockeye. The escapement goal is between two to ten million sockeye.

Alagnak River

The Alagnak had 155,058 fish counted for a running total of 955,284 fish so far. That’s well above the escapement goal of over 210,000.

Egegik District

Egegik’s fleet caught another half a million - 527,000 fish on Tuesday, with an average drift delivery of 1,157 fish. That brings the total harvest to 13.4 million. Escapement up the Egegik was 53,574 on Tuesday, for a total count of 1.55 million. There was no in-river estimate reported for Tuesday.

Egegik’s total run is now just shy of 15 million.

Ugashik District

Over to Ugashik, fleets caught 272,000 fish for a total harvest of 4.47 million fish. The average drift delivery was again the highest out of all districts on Tuesday at 1,366 fish.

Another 64,200 escaped up river, for the cumulative of 986,070 fish - now well over the lower escapement goal. 175,000 fish are estimated to be in-river.

Ugashik’s total run is at 5.63 million.

Vessel Registrations

In Egegik, there are 274 permits on 209 boats. Those numbers will increase slightly to 277 permits on 212 boats by Friday. DBoats will stay the same at 65 boats.

In the Naknek-Kvichak District there are 576 permits now, but that will rise to 653 in two days. The number of vessels will go from 469 to 524 and the number of DBoats will go from 110 to 132

The Nushagak District has 489 permits on 358 boats. Those numbers will drop slightly to 478 permits on 352 boats. DBoats will go from 131 to 127.

The Togiak District has 37 permits on 37 boats, and that will go up by one on Friday to 38 permits on 38 boats.

More crews are in the Ugashik District, with 271 permits on 206 boats. That number will go up to 309 permits on 234 boats. The number of Dboats will go from 66 to 76 in two days.

Chignik Weir Counts

The Chignik River Weir counted 10,242 sockeye and 12 Chinook on Tuesday. 4,889 sockeye were part of the early run, which is now above its lower boundary for their escapement goal with 381,634 fish. The late run had 5,353 fish for a count of 84,758 sockeye. The total Chinook run is now 260.

Area M 

The Area M fleet caught 120,566 fish on Tuesday for a total harvest of 8.7 million. The vast majority of Tuesday’s catch were sockeye, at 120,449 fish. There were 114 pinks caught, just 3 Chinook, and zero chum and zero coho.

Total harvest for each species is 6.92 million sockeye, 1.19 million pinks, 587,942 chum, 6,673 Chinook, and 1,506 coho.

Port Moller Test Fishery

Port Moller technicians report the Test Fishery fleet is closing down the season - the vessel Half Moon Bay which covered Stations 10 - 1, finished the season yesterday. The Ocean Cat will cover the outer stations today, Wednesday and finish tomorrow, July 14 after covering the inner stations. The technicians want to thank the captain and crews for helping to make the Port Moller Test Fishery happen !!

Station 1, 2, 14, 18 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 6.

Station 6 caught 3 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 4 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 13.

Station 8 caught 9 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 7 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 30.

Station 10 caught 11 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 5 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 32.

Station 12 caught 2 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 1 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 8.

Station 16 caught 4 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 2 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 14.

Station 20 caught 1 fish in the 4 ½ inch mesh and 1 fish in the 5 ⅛. That catch index is 4.

Stock Compositions

Port Moller technicians say a final stock composition will be released for July 10-11 and should be available on July 14.

Messages to the Fleet

A challenge and a message from the crew of the Lindsay:

“A challenge to all of the families of female fisherfolks to donate to KDLG. KDLG lets us stay in touch with our super slayin' women and what a year it is! From the Crew of the Lindsay”

Message to the Fleet

"To the crew on the fishing vessel Deborah,

More rations on their way. Keep slayin' and The Beast sends his love to Lo. Looking forward to your safe return and some of that record-breaking salmon. Be safe.

-The Crew of the Lindsay

We just made a friend donation too.”

If you’d like to get your message out to the fleet on this show, send it over in an email to fish@kdlg.org. If you’d like to get in touch about anything else, give us a call at 842-2200 or send an email to fish@kdlg.org.

Corinne Smith is a reporter and producer who grew up in Oakland, California and on her family’s horse ranch in rural San Rafael, CA, a contrast that nurtured a deep appreciation for the complexities of identity and belonging, and connection to place, land and the natural world. She began her reporting career at KPFA in Berkeley, first as a general assignment reporter and then as lead producer of UpFront, a daily morning news and public affairs show. In 2020, she served as the summer reporter for KFSK in Petersburg where she first got hooked on Alaska stories. For the last year, she's been a general assignment reporter for KHNS based in Haines, and thrilled to experience a new part of Alaska and cover the Bristol Bay fishing season this summer with KDLG!