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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 14, 2023

Tyler Henigan readies the net for another drift
Jack Darrell
Tyler Henigan readies the net for another drift

Just when we thought the run was slowing down, Thursday was the second biggest harvest day of the season to date with 2.5 million fish hauled in bay-wide. Naknek-Kvichak fleets caught 1.2 million of that. Escapement was also a strong 1.2 million. The total run is now 37 million fish.

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The Naknek-Kvichak District saw its second biggest harvest day of the season yesterday with 1.2 million fish hauled in. That’s after a lull this week, for more we check in with Travis Ellison, area management biologist with Fish and Game for the Naknek Kvichak district.

Naknek-Kvichak area management biologist Travis Ellison

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game deploys several tools for tracking escapement in the nine rivers of Bristol Bay. Counting towers track most escapement, but there is one SONAR site, based on the bank of the Nushagak River. There, a crew of seven techs estimate the number of fish swimming upstream, including sockeye, chum, and king escapement numbers. KDLG’s Jessie Sheldon paid a visit to the camp, two hours by boat up the Nushagak River, and has this story.

Nushagak sonar site routine and critical part of monitoring escapement

Today on Food Friday, something a bit different - we’re taking a look at what salmon eat, and what eats salmon. Earlier this week we learned what salmon feast on in freshwater, today, we focus on the marine environment. KDLG’s Jessie Sheldon has more.

Fish Facts: What salmon eat the open ocean

Messages to the Fleet

To Mojo on the Corsair: Rye guy and G girl say Auntie Reeni get lots of fish! Love ya.

A very special birthday wish to “Jones” who is fishing on the Whiskey Creek. Happy Birthday Jones. By the way, we may have located your pants and boots.

From, Gorgeous Victor

We’ve checked in with Will Cook throughout the season, he’s 20 years old, it’s his first time fishing in Bristol Bay. We got a chance to ask Will’s mom, Robin Cook - who’s a nurse in Thomasville, Georgia - about the experience too -

Chatting with Robin Cook, mother of Will Cook, out fishing for the first time

The Numbers

The total bay-wide harvest Thursday was a whopping 2.5 million fish, the biggest haul of the season after days of crews lamenting an early end to the season.

The total season catch is now at 27,061,524. Escapement yesterday at 1,194,831, with the vast majority in the Naknek, for a season total across Bristol Bay of 10,158,186 spawners up-river, and another 600,000 estimated in-river.

The total bay-wide run is at 37,819,710 fish. The season’s forecast is an estimated 51 million fish run.


The Nushagak harvest Thursday was 410,200 fish, with an average drift delivery of 1,301 sockeye. The total catch is at 9,945,067.

The drift fleet has caught about 78 percent of that total harvest. Nushagak set netters have harvested 19 percent, and set netters in the Igushik have harvested 3 percent.

Nushagak River

At the Nushagak River sonar an estimated 11,325 sockeye passed yesterday for a total of 1,666,558.

An estimated 240 Chinook passed the Nushagak River sonar for a total of 30,399 this season. The escapement goal this year is at least 55,000.

Another 2,048 chum salmon passed the sonar after just 500 pushed past the previous day. That makes for an estimated total of 84,107 this season. Still far below this year’s escapement goal of 200,000 chum.

Wood River

Over at the headwaters of the Wood River, it seems the counting tower crew saw the tail end of Wednesday push yesterday, with an estimated 41,808 sockeye passing on Thursday, as compared to Wednesday’s 112,000. That brings the total escapement to 2,450,670. But that is still well within the upper boundaries of the escapement goal range of 700,000 to 3 million fish.

Igushik River

In the Igushik River, an estimated 22,596 sockeye passed on Thursday, for a total of 315,960 fish this season. The Igushik run is also well within its escapement goal range of 150,000 to 400,000 fish.


At the Togiak counting tower, crews estimate 7,710 reds passed on Thursday, working the total up to 45,654 this season. T

he escapement goal in Togiak is 120,000 to 270,000.

Togiak fleets hauled in 11,923 sockeye yesterday, which pushes the season total catch to 100,079. The total run in Togiak is almost 145,733 fish.


Naknek and Kvichak fleets had not just the biggest catch of the day yesterday, but the second biggest catch of their season, after 1.5 million on July 3rd. That catch yesterday was 11,199,612, with an average drift delivery of 1,512 fish. The total season catch is now 7,682,359 fish. Thursday's escapement was just under 978,612, making it the largest escapement day of the run, with another 400,000 estimated in-river. The season’s total run is at 12,497,183.

The drift fleet caught about 78 percent of that total harvest, Naknek setnetters caught around 11 percent and Kvichak setnetters around 10 percent.

In the Naknek River, tower crews estimated 10,008 fish escaped yesterday. That brings the river’s cumulative escapement to 829,320. Pushing us just a little further from the Naknek’s minimum escapement boundary that we hit yesterday, with the goal being between 800,000 to 2 million.

In the Kvichak River, an estimated 812,460 fish made it upstream past the counting tower, with another estimated 400,000 fish in-river. Total escapement is at 2,772,570 fish so far - in the bottom end of the escapement goal range of 2 to 10 million.

In the Alagnak River, roughly 156,144 fish passed the tower crew yesterday, bringing the total season escapement to 812,934 fish. That’s just under quadruple this season’s escapement goal of at least 210,000 fish.

In this season’s forecast, the Naknek is expected to see a 6.5 million sockeye run, Kvichak, over 8 million fish, and the Alagnak is forecasted to get around 4.2 million.


Egegik fishing crews shared in the wealth Thursday with the second biggest haul of the day: 684,655 fish, with an average drift delivery of 1,457 fish. The season’s total catch is now at 8,385,914.

Egegik drifters have caught about 81 percent of the harvest this season, and setnetters have caught 19 percent.

Escapement yesterday was an estimated 50,298 fish. Total escapement is estimated at 923,598 fish, and the total run is an estimated 9,309,512. That passes the lower escapement goal for Egegik of 800,000 to 2 million fish.


An estimated 206,845 fish were caught in Ugashik Thursday. The season total catch is now 948,105 fish after a couple days of closure.

Escapement yesterday in Ugashik was estimated at 82,482. Total escapement is at an estimated 340,922 fish, with another 200,000 estimated in-river. The escapement goal range for the Ugashik River is 500,000-1.4 million fish, meaning we need at least 159,000 more fish to make it up that river to hit the lower bound of that goal.

The total run in Ugashik has almost hit 1.5 million at 1,489,027 fish. The run is forecasted to be 3.35 million this season.

Vessel Registrations

As of noon today, in Egegik, there are 384 permits on 294 boats. That will increase slightly to 389 permits on 297 boats by the 16th, and the number of DBoats will increase from 90 to 92.

The Ugashik District has 229 permits on 171 boats, which will increase to 233 permits on 173 boats in the next 2 days. DBoats will increase from 58 to 60 boats.

The Naknek-Kvichak District has 706 permits on 536 boats. That will jump up to 712 permits on 541 boats by Sunday. DBoats will increase from 170 to 171.

In the Nushagak, there are 337 permits on 249 boats. That won’t change over this weekend. DBoats will also stand at 89.

The Togiak District has 24 permits on 24 boats, which will stay the same in the next two days.

In total bay-wide, there are 1,680 active permits on 1,274 boats and 407 DBoats.

Chignik River

Chignik fleets harvested 167,541 sockeye in the week of July 5 through July 11, bringing the season total to 290,631 fish.

The Chignik River weir saw a big push of sockeye on Thursday, with an estimated 28,225 spawners passing, for a season total of 466,491 fish.

An estimated 17,941 fish were part of the early run yesterday, for a season total of 466,491. An estimated 10,284 fish were part of the late run yesterday, for a total of 71,840 fish.

Area M

In Area M, North and South Peninsula fleets harvested another 20,965 sockeye on Thursday, for a season total of 1,764,422.

They caught just 5 chinook on Thursday, for a season total of 2,968 One coho was caught, alongside 16 pinks, and 431 chum salmon.

The total Area M season harvest across species is now 2,337,996.

For the South Peninsula, total harvest is at 951,880 sockeye, 1,822 chinook, 4,119 coho, 242,464 pinks, and 318,504 chum.

In the North Peninsula, total harvest is 812,542 sockeye, 1,146 chinook, and 5,390 chum.

Port Moller Test Fishery:

The test fishery has closed for the season, as of yesterday July 13. We’ll have more from the Port Moller managers next week.

Get in touch at

Jack Darrell is a reporter for KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. He is working on the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report and is passionate about sustainable fisheries and local stories that connect communities and explore the intersections of class, culture, and the natural world.
Jessie Sheldon is a fisheries reporter for KDLG. She has spent several summers working in Alaska, both on the water and in the recording studio. Jessie is passionate about marine ecosystems, connection through storytelling, and all things fishy.
Corinne Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer who grew up in Oakland, California. She's reported for KFSK in Petersburg, KHNS in Haines, and most recently KBBI in Homer. This is her second season as a fisheries reporter, and now returns as director of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report.