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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 17, 2023

Fishing crews in the Nushagak
Courtesy of Nick Rahaim
Fishing crews in the Nushagak

Harvests slowed down a bit after a surprise encore of record harvest days over the weekend. But catches were still going strong Sunday with a baywide catch of 1.43 million. Naknek-Kvichak and Egegik fleets brought in the biggest harvests again yesterday. Escapement was at 550,000 fish. The bay wide run is now 45.9 million, fast approaching the season forecast of 51 million fish.

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Fishing crews respond to Trident Seafood's 50 cent/lb base price

Trident Seafoods announced a base price for their Bristol Bay fishing fleet of 50 cents per pound of sockeye. That’s less than half of last year’s base price of $1.15.

Trident announced it will be offering bonuses of $0.15 cent per pound for RSW, refrigerated sea water and ice handling. They’re also offering $0.05 for floating and $0.10 for bleeding, but for drift fishermen only.

KDLG reached out to Trident Seafoods for comment, but did not hear back before airtime. Other Alaska seafood companies have not yet announced a base price, but are expected to announce a similar price.

KDLG’s Jack Darrell went down to the Dillingham harbor, where a number of fishing crews returned to port Monday morning.

Fishing crews respond to low price news

KDLG reached out to the largest Alaska seafood processing companies for comment on Trident Seafoods' base price. Only OBI Seafoods answered saying “no comment at this time,” Peter Pan Seafoods, Silver Bay, North Pacific Seafoods did not respond to requests for comment by airtime. Those processors have not announced a base price yet.

Why such a low price for Bristol Bay sockeye?

Heading into the season, seafood market analysts cited many factors that could drop prices for fishermen. Those included a surplus from the 2022 record season flooding the market, and still being sold off in stores; a decrease in wholesale prices for sockeye, a drop in consumer demand in grocery stores, and competition on the global market, especially cheaper Atlantic farmed salmon.

KDLG’s Corinne Smith checked in with Andy Wink, the director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association to discuss.

BBRSDA's Andy Wink shares analysis on market conditions

The Port Moller Test Fishery wraps up the 2023 season

The Port Moller Test Fishery wrapped up operations for the season last Thursday July 13. We checked in with Jordan Head, director of the test fishery on the final fishing days of this season, and what looked different this year–including this big, late in the season push of fish we saw over the weekend.

End of the season at the Port Moller Test Fishery

Mechanical Monday

Today is our last Mechanical Monday of the season. Whether you are an experienced boat engineer or a new deckhand, or working with a new engine or boat this season, this season we spotlighted boat mechanics tips, repairs and what to look out for. This week: end of season boat maintenance. KDLG’s Jack Darrel checked in with Gabe Dunham, from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Marine Advisory Program.

Mechanical Monday: Boat Storage

It’s the last week of the Fisheries Report, with just three shows. The next shows will be Wednesday July 19, then Friday July 21.

Messages to the Fleet

To Tyler Henry of F/V Knotta Lotta:

Dash and Lucy asked us to give you a shout out to say they are both behaving, having fun, but they sure love and miss their dad! They are anxiously awaiting your homecoming!

We love you and can’t wait to have you back!

Love, Jennifer and Ethan

The Numbers

The total bay-wide harvest on Sunday was1,427,233 fish, cooling down a bit from some unprecedented end of season hauls over the last 3 days.

The total season catch is now at 33,559,154, with an escapement yesterday of 548,159 fish. The cumulative escapement bay wide is now at 11,951,923, with another 450,000 estimated in-river.

The total bay-wide run is at 45,961,077 fish, inching closer to the season’s forecast of an estimated 51 million fish run.


The Nushagak harvest on Sunday was 229,081 fish, with an average drift delivery of 609 sockeye. The total catch is at 11,229,727. Escapement for the district yesterday was 72,317, for a cumulative district escapement of 4,641,875 fish.

Nushagak River

At the Nushagak River sonar an estimated 19,715 sockeye passed yesterday for a total of 1,720,979.

Only 42 Chinook passed the Nushagak River sonar for an estimated total of 30,561 this season. The escapement goal this year is at least 55,000.

A good push of 3,535 chum salmon passed the sonar yesterday. That makes for an estimated total of 89,488 this season. Still far below this year’s escapement goal of 200,000 chum.

Wood River

In the Wood River, an estimated 39,726 sockeye passed the counting tower on Sunday, with another 7,908 spawners pushing up stream as of 6 am this morning. That brings the total escapement to 2,554,164, 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 12,876 sockeye passed the counting tower on Sunday, for a total just under 366,732 fish this season. Another 10,572 swam by as of 6 am this morning. 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 7,818 reds passed on Sunday, working the total up to about 70,902 so far this season, with another 522 spawners swimming upstream as of 6 am this morning. The escapement goal in Togiak is 120,000 to 270,000.

Togiak fleets hauled in just under 12,976 sockeye yesterday, which pushes the season total catch to 148,090. The average drift delivery there yesterday was 355 fish, and the total run in Togiak is almost 218,992 fish.


Naknek and Kvichak fleets had the biggest catch of the day yesterday, hauling in 494,409 fish yesterday, with an average drift delivery of 639 fish. The total season catch is now at 10,743,750 fish. Sunday's escapement was 252,198, with another 450,000 estimated in-river. The season’s total escapement is at 5,228,046 and the total run is at 16,421,796.

In the Naknek River, tower crews estimated 57,618 spawners swam upstream yesterday. That brings the river’s cumulative escapement to 1,069,194, within the lower end of Naknek’s escapement goal range of 800,000 to 2 million.

In the Kvichak River, an estimated 127,014 fish made it upstream past the counting tower, with another estimated 450,000 fish in-river. Total escapement is at 3,240,690 fish so far - within the Kvichak’s escapement goal range of 2 to 10 million.

In the Alagnak River, roughly 67,566 fish passed the tower crew yesterday, bringing the total season escapement to 918,162 fish. That’s over four times the 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 had the second biggest catch of the day yesterday, with the fleet hauling in almost 431,844 fish. The average drift delivery was 860 fish. The season’s total catch is now at 9,858,691, and the total run is at an estimated 1,377,312 fish.

Escapement yesterday was an estimated 130,056 fish. Total escapement is estimated at 1,377,312 fish, comfortably within Egegik’s escapement goal range of 800,000 to 2 million fish.


258,923 fish were caught in Ugashik on Sunday, bringing the season’s total catch to 1,578,896 fish. The average drift delivery yesterday was 1,806 fish.

Escapement yesterday was estimated at 85,770. Total escapement is estimated at 633,788 fish, now within the lower end of the Ugashik’s escapement goal range of 500,000-1.4 million fish.

The total run in Ugashik is now 2,212,684 fish. The run is forecasted to be 3.35 million this season.

Fish and Game has ended reporting vessel registration data this season, as escapement goals have been met, and the transfer period has been waived. Now onto the Chignik River numbers.

Chignik River

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

At the Chignik River weir, 10,009 sockeye swam through the weir on Sunday, for a season total of 490,935 fish.

An estimated 3,110 fish were part of the early run yesterday, for a season total just over 403,100. An estimated 6,899 fish were part of the late run yesterday, for a total of about 87,835 fish.

Area M

In Area M, North and South Peninsula fleets harvested 4,111 sockeye on Sunday, for a season total 1,899,692.

They caught just 2 chinook on Wednesday, for a season total of 3,533. No coho, pink, or chum salmon were caught yesterday.

The total Area M season harvest across species is now at 2,734,985.

For the South Peninsula, total harvest is at 1,046,214 sockeye, 2,376 chinook, 28,180 coho, 435,224 pinks, and 361,992 chum.

In the North Peninsula, total harvest is 853,478 sockeye, 1,157 chinook, and 6,210 chum.

Disclaimer: BBRSDA is an underwriter of KDLG and financial supporter of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report but has no involvement in editorial coverage or newsroom operations.

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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.
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.
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.