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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 17, 2022

Yako Creek, taken 7.18.22.jpg
Brian Venua
/
KDLG
Sockeye salmon run up Yako Creek

Harvests slowed down Saturday. The bay-wide haul was 851,000. This year’s all-time biggest harvest now totals 55.6 million fish. But escapement is still below the record. 17 million fish have made it to spawning grounds across the bay — short of last year’s bay-wide escapement of 25.6 million. Still, the runs up a few rivers have exceeded their maximum escapement goals, and many others have met escapement.

Messages to the Fleet

“This one is for the Duta family and friends: Papa Duta, Becky, Andrew, Emily, Hank the Tank, Richie, Dukes, & Dustin. Thanks for all the great hospitality & home cooking Becky. I hope you caught all the fish!

-Matt

“Hey Connor Cook and Connor Roland on the same deluxe jet boat:

Love to both of you and hope you are having a great season! Elizabeth is with Beaux and enjoying taking him to the Locks! We will see you when we see you!

-Love, Jon Cook

“Attention: Request to Fisherman to Call Home right away

Would you please put an urgent request out to a fisherman, Louis Balluta in Bristol Bay to call his wife, Stacy - thank you.

-Stacy

The numbers

Across the bay, harvests slowed down somewhat with fleets hauling in 851,000 sockeye on Saturday, for a total harvest of 55.6 million. That’s 11 million fish or 26% greater than the second-highest catch of 44 million fish last year.

Bristol Bay’s total run is at 72.7 million sockeye – about 5 million above the previous record of 67.6 million fish, which was set last year.

Escapement across the bay on Saturday was a steady 334,193. Total escapement is 17 million salmon returned. That’s still below last year’s total escapement of 25.6 million spawning salmon.

Nushagak District

Fishermen in the Nushagak District caught 202,000 fish on Saturday, with an average drift delivery of 556 sockeye. The total harvest is now over 22.2 million fish. That’s still below the largest harvest on record in 2018, when the fleet brought in 24.2 million fish.

Another 42,515 sockeye escaped up rivers across the district. The district’s population of spawning sockeye is now 7.2 million.

The district’s total run is at 29.5 million sockeye – still the second largest on record. The district’s largest run returned in 2018, at 33.7 million fish.

Let’s break down the district’s escapement by river.

Nushagak River

The run is slowing down in the Nushagak River -- the sonar crew counted 8,477 sockeye on Saturday, bringing the river’s total escapement to 3.37 million. That has exceeded the state’s escapement goal by 2.4 million sockeye.

The daily chum run was 1,174, for a total of 92,671. That’s still not halfway to the Nushagak’s minimum escapement goal of 200,000 chum.

And Chinook escapement was 57 fish on Saturday, for a season total of 43,607. That’s more than 10,000 fish below its minimum goal of 55,000 kings.

Wood River

The Wood River tower crew counted 28,380 salmon on Saturday and another 6,084 this morning. The Wood’s total spawner count is at 3.6 million. That escapement is now double its upper-end goal of 1.8 million fish.

Igushik River

The Igushik tower counted 5,658 salmon on Saturday and another 4,032 this morning. Igushik escapement is now 237,324. That’s sitting right in the middle of its goal range for escapement.

Togiak

Togiak fleets had a bigger haul Saturday, harvesting 21,000 fish, with an average drift delivery of 276 fish. The total harvest is now 205,922 fish, and the total run is now 241,000.

Togiak’s run past the tower was just 849 fish on Saturday, and another 672 escaped this morning. Total escapement up the Togiak River is now just over 35,000 – about a quarter of the way to its minimum escapement goal.

Naknek-Kvichak

Harvest is slowing down in the Naknek-Kvichak as well – fleets hauled in just 290,000 fish Saturday, for a total harvest of 12.75 million fish. The average drift delivery was 448 fish.

Escapement was strong at 229,404 fish for a season total of just over 6.8 million.

The total run there is at 19.6 million fish.

Naknek River

The Naknek River crew counted 34,602 fish that swam upriver on Saturday, for a total escapement of 1.8 million. The Naknek’s escapement is nearing its maximum goal of 2 million fish.

Kvichak River

Kvichak’s daily escapement was 128,040 fish, for a total of 3.7 million. While the Kvichak has seen some big pulses of salmon in the past couple weeks, its escapement is still at the lower end of its escapement goal range.

Alagnak River

The Alagnak tower crew counted 66,762 fish on Saturday for a total escapement of 1.3 million.

Egegik

The Egegik fleet harvested 191,000 fish Saturday for a total of 14.8 million. The average drift delivery was the largest of all districts with 735 sockeye. 25,398 fish swam past the counting tower, for a total escapement of 1.7 million – still short of Egegik’s upper escapement goal of 2 million.

The total run there is at 16.5 million – the fourth largest on record.

Ugashik

The Ugashik fleet caught 147,000 fish on Saturday, with an average drift delivery of 735 sockeye. The total harvest is 5.5 million - now the fourth largest on record. The biggest harvest was in 2016 at 6.63 million.

36,036 fish escaped up the Ugashik River, for a total escapement of 1.28 million fish. That’s almost at the upper escapement goal of 1.4 million

The total run there is now 6.8 million.

Vessel Registrations: 

This is the last vessel registration count of the 2022 season. As of this morning, July 17 at 9 a.m. Fish and Game no longer requires notice of vessel and permit registrations in any district except Togiak.

More vessels are moving over to the Naknek-Kvichak this weekend. There are currently 660 permits on 531 boats on Sunday. That will increase to 740 permits on 588 boats by Tuesday. The number of DBoats will go from 132 to 155.

Egegik has 298 permits on 222 boats, and will see a slight decrease to 294 permits on 218 boats by Tuesday. DBoats will stay the same at 76 boats.

Nushagak currently has 363 permits on 272 boats. That will increase to 377 permits on 285 boats. The number of DBoats will go from 92 to 93.

Ugashik’s fleet will see a decrease of one, from 303 permits on 225 boats, to 302 permits on 224 boats by Tuesday. The number of DBoats will stay the same at 79.

Finally, Togiak’s fleet will stay steady at 38 permits on 38 boats.

Chignik Weir  

On the Alaska Peninsula at the Chignik River Weir, 11,902 sockeye were counted for a season total of over half a million at 521,746 fish.

3,848 sockeye were part of the early run for a count of 402,711 fish, and 8,054 fish were part of the late run there for a total of 119,035 salmon.

60 Chinook also returned for a cumulative count of 392 for that species.

Area M 

The Area M fishery slowed down quite a bit on Saturday, with 850 fish caught for a total of 9.17 million fish this season so far.

Saturday’s harvest broke down to just 675 sockeye, 165 pinks, 10 chum, zero coho, and zero Chinook.

Total harvest for each species is now 7.3 million sockeye, 1.22 million pinks, 614,016 chum, 7,791 Chinook, and 4,620 coho.

Fleets from the Dolgoi Island Area harvested 53,715 sockeye, and just 66 chinook so far. The Shumagin Islands fleet has caught over 843,000 sockeye, and almost 1,300 chinook. South Unimak fishermen have caught 3 million sockeye and 1,600 chinook.

In all, the South Peninsula has hauled in almost 4.1 million sockeye, 6,873 Chinook, 1.22 million pink salmon, 612,764 chum, and 4,571 coho total to date.

Port Moller Test Fishery 

The Port Moller Test Fishery completed its final test fishing for the 2022 season on Thursday July 14 - we’ll have more on the project next week.

We’re going to take a short break … we’ll be back with you here on the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report in a moment.

Thank you to everyone who’s donated as part of KDLG's annual fund drive. You can donate online on our website at kdlg.org, or call us at (907) 842 - 2200. 

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!