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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 29, 2022

Final Photo - Kanakanak Beach.jpg
Brian Venua
/
KDLG
Downtown Dillingham, seen from Kanakanak Beach.

How this record run compares to past years

We’ve been talking about it all summer - Bristol Bay has another record salmon run for the 2022 season. Not only that, but we’ve also had a record for the largest harvest of all time as well - at over 58 million fish to date. KDLG’s Brian Venua has been tracking the numbers closely, and we sat down to talk about how this year compares to the fishery’s historic numbers.

Breaking down the numbers

Chignik's sockeye run is the highest it's been in years. Some point to a compromise with Area M as a factor

The sockeye runs to the Chignik River are at their highest escapement in at least nine years. This is welcome news after four years of extremely low returns. As KDLG’s Brian Venua reports, Chignik officials think that might have something to do with recent management changes to Area M’s commercial fishery.

A closer look at the Chigniks

Fish, friends and fun at the 40th annual Fishtival

The 40th annual Bristol Bay Fishtival celebration in Naknek brought together fisherfolk, residents and visitors for a weekend of food, music, arts and many other traditions. KDLG’s Corinne Smith was at Fishtival, and says there was palpable excitement at the arrival of a historic wooden sailboat, which took a 300-mile journey from Homer to Naknek, harkening back to the history of sailboat fleets in Bristol Bay.

2022 Fishtival

Fire destroys fishing tender near Togiak

How the state's limited entry has affected local participation in Bristol Bay's fishery

More than 75 million sockeye returned to Bristol Bay this summer. It's the largest run on record. And it's great news for the commercial fishery.

But as KDLG's Izzy Ross reports, it's also reigniting conversations about big disparities in who gets to fish, and how the state’s limited entry permit system has affected local communities.

KDLG's Izzy Ross reports on some of the effects of limited entry in Bristol Bay.

Goodbye from the KDLG Fish Report crew

KDLG fish reporters Brian Venua and Corinne Smith, and news director Izzy Ross took a few minutes to reflect on the season and producing this daily radio show serving the Bristol Bay fishing community.

Fish Reporters reflect on the 2022 season

2022 KDLG crew
Brian Venua
/
KDLG
The summer 2022 KDLG crew. From left to right: Brian Venua, Alex Buholm, Sarah Fuller, Izzy Ross, Katherine Moncure and Corinne Smith. July 2022.

The numbers as of July 21

Baywide the total harvest was 58.2 million fish – the highest on record.

Across our nine rivers, 18.2 million sockeye escaped past the counting towers and the Nushagak sonar.

Bristol Bay’s total run is 76.5 million fish.

Nushagak District

The Nushagak District’s fleet harvested 22.7 million fish this summer. That’s the second-highest harvest on record, only coming short of the 2018 haul.

Total escapement in the district is 7.4 million.

Let’s break that down by river.

Nushagak River

The Nushagak River had 44,183 Chinook and 101,876 chum past the sonar. Both of those runs are below the lower boundary of the escapement goals for those species, however 3.4 million sockeye were counted, almost 4 times the upper boundary of the escapement goal for that species.

Wood River

The Wood River 3.7 million spawners this year, over double the upper escapement goal for that river.

Igushik River

The Igushik saw a total count of 297,154 salmon.

Togiak District

Total harvest in Togiak as of last week was 281,999, however that fishery is still running. The total escapement there is at 54,930.

Togiak’s total run is 334,607 fish.

Naknek-Kvichak District

The Naknek-Kvichak had a season with 14.1 million sockeye caught this year. Total escapement for the district there is 7.6 million, and the district’s total run is at 21.7 million fish.

And to break it down by river,

Naknek River

The Naknek River had 1.9 million sockeye come through the river there.

Kvichak River

The Kvichak saw 4.1 million spawners come through.

Alagnak River

The Alagnak counting tower saw 1.5 million fish this season.

Egegik District 

Egegik’s fleet caught 15.3 million fish this season. That’s the third-largest harvest on record. 1.7 million escaped past fishing nets and Egegik’s total run is at 17.1 million – now the district’s third-largest run on record.

Ugashik District

Ugashik fishermen caught 5.8 million fish this year and Ugashik’s harvest is now the third-largest on record. District escapement has a cumulative count of 1.3 million sockeye and Ugashik’s total run is now 7.1 million. That’s the fifth-largest run on record.

Chignik Weir

The Chignik River Weir is still running and so far 645,606 sockeye have been counted. 423,643 were part of the Early Run and 221,963 were part of the late run there.

For other species, 626 Chinook, 133 pinks, and 48 chum were counted in the weir.

Area M

Area M has also continued fishing since our last numbers update, so far 10.3 million salmon have been caught between the five species. That breaks down to 7.8 million sockeye, 1.8 million pinks, 698,105 chum, 17,843 silvers, and 11,084 Chinook.

To get in touch, send us an email at fish@kdlg.org. Good night, good fishing, see you back here next year.

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.
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!
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.