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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 19, 2022

The Libby McNeil Libby 76 in the Kvichak River, by Igiugig. July 2022.
Christina Salmon
The Libby McNeil Libby 76 in the Kvichak River, by Igiugig. July 2022.

Naknek-Kvichak fleets brought in more than half of Monday’s harvest. The bay’s total catch is now at 57 million sockeye, and the total run is at 74.5 million.

Man missing after going out in a skiff on Lake Iliamna on Sunday

Alaska State Troopers are searching for a man who went missing while traveling across Lake Iliamna in a skiff Sunday evening.

Jeremy Davis and another man planned to travel across the lake from Igiugig to Newhalen.

Austin McDaniel, the information officer for the state Department of Public Safety, said a concerned Igiugig resident notified the Troopers that the men had left in the skiff around 9 p.m.

"That individual saw some things that she just didn't think was right," he said. "So between the things that she saw, as well as this incoming storm, she thought to be safe and give the Alaska State Troopers a phone call, let us know what was going on. At which point we began monitoring the situation."

About an hour later, the troopers were told the men hadn’t arrived in Newhalen.

Sunday evening’s wind and low visibility prevented troopers from searching the area. On Monday, a local air taxi found the skiff on shore. McDaniel said that troopers sent in a helicopter from Dillingham to the area and contacted the man who was with Davis in the skiff.

According to McDaniel, the man said a wave knocked Davis overboard.

"Mr. Davis was swept off of the skiff by a wave that was generated by some sort of a storm overnight," he said. "The boat was described as being pretty far offshore."

Local air taxi operations and Wildlife Troopers have assisted troopers in the search for Davis, which is still ongoing.

Beached tender spills fuel into the Naknek River

A North Pacific Seafoods tender in the Naknek River was beached on Sunday and leaked fuel into the water about a mile from Naknek, near Pederson Point.

Fishing was closed from the Pederson Point dock south to the North Naknek Beach Access Road Monday night, but reopened today at 3 p.m.

Travis Elison is the Fish and Game area management biologist for the Naknek-Kvichak district. He says the tender – the Beaver – took on water during a storm on Sunday when the crew lost power in one of their engines. The captain decided to put it on shore instead of sinking.

Elison said Alaska Marine Response was on the scene to control the pollution.

“Following up with it today, there is a salvage company out there working on it right now," he said. "(They) flew a helicopter survey the Naknek beach and there wasn't any visible sheen except for right immediately next to the vessel where they’re working on cleaning it up.”

Elison said the spill likely poses little to no threat to fish in the river

“The source has been contained. And we have huge sides out here with a lot of wave action and that stuff really does just washes off the beach pretty quick,” he said.

Elison said spills like this are rare — and each one is handled differently.

“In this case, there's a potential source sitting on the beach, within really feet of, where people fish," he said. "So, there's much more potential for contamination there than we have in some other situations.”

KDLG reached out to both North Pacific Seafoods and Alaska Marine Response this afternoon, however neither responded in time for this broadcast.

KDLG's former news director, Bob King, weighs in on this season.

This run is remarkable for a few reasons. Fleets have harvested the most fish ever. The run has just about reached Fish and Game’s forecast of 75 million sockeye. A wooden sailboat is making its way to Naknek. With all this in mind, we wanted to get some perspective from the longtime KDLG news director. KDLG's current news director, Izzy Ross, sat down with Bob King today to hear what stood out to him about this season, and hear about a few remarkable seasons past.

KDLG's Izzy Ross talks to former news director Bob King.

KDLG's former news director, Bob King, and KDLG's current news director, Izzy Ross. July 19, 2022.
Brian Venua
KDLG's former news director, Bob King, and KDLG's current news director, Izzy Ross. July 19, 2022.

The historic wooden sailboat, Libby McNeil Libby 76, is on its way to Naknek. Bob King also talked about his involvement in the project.

Bob King talks to KDLG's Izzy Ross about his involvement in the effort to get a historic wooden sailboat back to Naknek, and his experience reporting on the fishery for KDLG from the 1970s until the 1990s.

The numbers

Another 848,034 fish came through the bay on Monday. The total run now sits at 74.5 million.

The harvest was 661,000 for a total of 57 million fish. That is nearly at Fish and Game’s estimated harvest for the season. Baywide escapement was 187,034 sockeye for a total of 17.5 million.

Nushagak District 

The Nushagak District’s daily run was 156,118 fish. The total run was 29.8 million so far.

Harvest on Monday was 110,000 fish for a total count of 22.5 million this summer. Average drifters brought in about 650 sockeye per delivery. Another 46,119 came through the rivers for a total escapement of 7.29 million.

Nushagak River

The Nushagak River had a slight jump in escapement on Monday. 7,370 sockeye came through for a count of 3.39 million.

Chum had a bump as well with a run of 2,174 on Monday for a total escapement of 95,779.

Chinook are still down. Only 28 fish got through for a count of 43,669.

Wood River

The Wood saw 34,614 sockeye with another 6,618 for a cumulative total of 3.65 million fish.

Igushik River

The Igushik had 4,134 fish come through with another 2,850 friends as of 6 a.m. this morning. Igushik’s total escapement is at 251,682 sockeye.

Togiak District

The Togiak District had 11,836 fish come through on Monday. The total of 254,397. The average drifter there brought in 163 fish. Togiak fishers caught about 10,000 fish for a total harvest of 215,589. The tower counted 1,836 fish for a total escapement of 38,808.

Naknek-Kvichak District

The Naknek-Kvichak District had 530,656 fish come through on Monday. The total run to the district is 20.7 million. Harvest there was the highest in the bay with 424,000 yesterday and the average drift delivery was at 1,305. Total harvest there is 13.6 million sockeye.

The escapement in the Naknek-Kvichak District was 106,656 for a total of 7.16 million fish.

Naknek River

The Naknek River had 30,558 return for a total escapement of 1.87 million there.

Kvichak River

The Kvichak had the biggest escapement in the district with 48,024 fish for a total escapement of 3.9 million.

Alagnak River

And the Alagnak had another 28,074 fish come by the counter there for a cumulative escapement of 1.38 million.

Egegik District 

The Egegik District had a push of 91,580 fish for a total of 16.7 million this season. That is now the fourth-largest run on record there. Harvest there was 74,000 with the average drifter bringing in 894 fish per delivery.

Escapement up the Egegik was 17,580, for a cumulative count of 1.73 million spawning friends.

Ugashik District 

The Ugashik District had 57,844 fish for a total of 6.95 million this year so far. Fisherfolk brought in 74,000 fish for a count of over 15 million fish. Average drift deliveries there were 475 fish. The Escapement was 17,580 sockeye past the towers for a total of 1.73 million.

Chignik Weir Counts 

16,192 sockeye were counted swimming past Chignik River Weir on Monday for a total of 547,661.

4,163 were part of the early run for a total of 409,685. The other 12,029 were part of the late run, which is now at 137,976 fish.

Another 42 Chinook came and joined them for a count of 470 this year. 6 pinks and 6 chum also came through for a total of 54 and 42.

Area M 

Over in Area M, 12,413 salmon were caught for a total harvest there of 9.19 million. To break that down by species, that’s 6,114 sockeye, 4,865 pinks, 1,301 chum, 129 silvers, and 4 kings.

The season total by species is 7.33 million sockeye, 1.23 million pinks, 615,342 chum, 7,795 Chinook, and 4,749 coho.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.
Brian Venua grew up in Dillingham and attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. He got his start in journalism at KDLG in 2020, interviewing and writing for the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report and signed on as a full-time host and reporter later that year.
Katherine is covering local stories in Dillingham and the Bristol Bay area for the summer of 2022, and she's excited to be in Alaska for the first time. She's passionate about all forms of storytelling, and she recently graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, a 15-week intensive in radio and podcast production. When not working on stories or hosting the morning news, Katherine enjoys cooking, reading, and going on aimless walks. She'll pet any dog that wants attention.