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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 21, 2023

Landon Cheney pulls a net on the vessel Honey Badger at the protest. July 20, 2023.
Jack Darrell
Landon Cheney pulls a net on the vessel Honey Badger at the protest. July 20, 2023.

It’s our final show of the season, but the run isn’t done yet. Bay-wide, fleets hauled in another 726,000 fish on Thursday, for a season total of 36.9 million. Escapement is at 13.3 million total, and the run nears the forecast at just under 50.3 million.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of our Summer Fund Drive last week! It's not too late to donate, and support your public radio serving Bristol Bay.

Bristol Bay fishermen protest low base price, lack of transparency

Bristol Bay fishing crews outraged with this year’s base price protested in the Naknek River entrance on Thursday. KDLG reporters were on the water, moving between protesting crews, who are calling on Alaskan processors to reconsider their historic low base price, and bring more price transparency to the fishery. KDLG’s Jessie Sheldon reports.

Anonline petitionstarted on Tuesday July 18 has almost 500 signatures to date -it’s calling for a standardized contract for the fishery between fishing crews and processors. They’re asking for "a written contract that is based on a percentage of the sales value from all the product forms that are sold from the fish that they catch and deliver. The cod fishermen were treated with this same respect this year, and we deserve the same.” For more, you can check out the petition on

Naknek Protest

Young members of the fleet concerned for the future of the fishery

Among the many concerns of fishing crews demonstrating on the the Naknek River yesterday - they say low prices could mean leaving the fishery altogether, and decades of family tradition. KDLG’s Jack Darrell has more.

Generational fishing

This year's sockeye are bigger, but long term data trends towards smaller fish

Bristol Bay sockeye are breaking records for abundance, but shrinking in size and weight. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Alaska Salmon Program have been monitoring this decades-long decline of sockeye size in the Nushagak watershed. But this year, fisheries biologists and fishing crews report that fish are coming back bigger, and older. KDLG’s Jessie Sheldon investigates the causes of this decline, and how this year’s fish fit into that trend.

Declining sockeye size

Goodbye 2023 Bristol Bay Fisheries Report

This is the last show of the season, thanks to everyone who’s tuned in and come along for the ride. We fish reporters took a few minutes to reflect on the season and production of this daily radio show serving the Bristol Bay fishing community.

Bristol Bay Fisheries Reporters Jessie Sheldon and Jack Darrell get the latest fishy news.
Corinne Smith
Bristol Bay Fisheries Reporters Jessie Sheldon and Jack Darrell get the latest fishy news.
Goodbye 2023 BBFR

Messages to the fleet

To the men on the Viking Dream, happy birthday to Greg! Fish hard and have fun! From Mark

The numbers

The total bay-wide harvest on Thursday was another 726,008 fish.

The total season catch is now at 36,982,212. Escapement yesterday was 184,595 fish. The cumulative escapement bay wide is now at 13,315,875, with none estimated in-river.

The total bay-wide run is at 50,298,087 fish, inching closer to the season’s forecast of an estimated 51 million fish run.


The Nushagak harvest on Thursday was 94,229 fish, with an average drift delivery of 470 sockeye. The total catch is at 12,103,083. Escapement for the district yesterday was 4,577 for a cumulative district escapement of 1,744,057.

Nushagak River

At the Nushagak River sonar an estimated 4,577 sockeye passed yesterday for a total of 1,744,057 fish.

Only 115 chinook passed the Nushagak River sonar for an estimated total of 31,286 this season. The escapement goal this year is at least 55,000.

An estimated 2,381 chum passed the sonar yesterday. That makes for an estimated total of 97,433 this season. Still far below this year’s escapement goal of 200,000 chum.

The Nushagak sonar and the Wood River tower counting operations will end for the season early next week.

Wood River

In the Wood River, the escapement goal has been met. An estimated 9,096 sockeye passed the counting tower on Thursday, with another 5,112 spawners pushing up stream as of 6 am this morning. That brings the total escapement to 2,608,944, still well within the upper boundaries of the escapement goal range of 700,000 to 3 million fish.

Igushik River

The Igushik River has made it’s escapement goal. An estimated 12,396 sockeye passed the counting tower on Thursday, for a total of 473,448 fish this season. Another 2,856 swam by as of 6 am this morning. That’s above the escapement goal range of 150,000 to 400,000 fish.


At the Togiak counting tower, crews estimate 13,452 sockeye passed on Thursday, working the total up to about 109,494 fish so far this season, with another 3,624 spawners swimming upstream as of 6 am this morning. The escapement goal in Togiak is 120,000 to 270,000.

Togiak fleets hauled in 10,748 sockeye yesterday, which pushes the season total catch to 228,769. The average drift delivery there yesterday was 182 fish, and the total run in Togiak is at 338,263.


Naknek and Kvichak fleets had the biggest catch of the day yesterday, hauling in 351,518 fish yesterday, with an average drift delivery of 654 fish. The total season catch is now at 12,103,083 fish. Thursday's escapement was 54,324. The season’s total escapement is at 5,786,244 and the total run is at 17,889,327.

The Naknek River has met its escapement goal. Naknek 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.

Kvichak River has made its escapement goal. An estimated 23,202 fish made it upstream past the counting tower, for a season total of 3,622,992 fish so far - well within the Kvichak’s escapement goal range of 2 to 10 million.

The Alagnak River run is well beyond its escapement goal. Another 6,792 fish passed the tower crew yesterday, bringing the total season escapement to 1,027,776 fish. That’s over five times the season’s escapement goal of at least 210,000 fish.


Egegik fishing crews had the second biggest catch of the day yesterday, with the fleet hauling in 203,215 fish. The average drift delivery was the largest at 772 fish. The season’s total catch is now at 10,913,487 fish, and the total run is at an estimated 12,436,131 fish.

Egegik has surpassed it’s escapement goal. Escapement yesterday was an estimated 20,412 fish. Total escapement is estimated at 1,522,644 fish, within the escapement goal range of 800,000 to 2 million fish.


In Ugashik, an estimated 67,298 fish were caught in Ugashik on Thursday, with an average drift delivery of 495 fish. That brings the season’s total catch to 1,578,896 fish.

The run in Ugashik made the escapement goal as well. Escapement yesterday was estimated at 70,388. Total escapement is estimated at 1,071,044 fish, now reaching the upper end of the Ugashik’s escapement goal range of 500,000 to 1.4 million fish.

The total run in Ugashik is now at 3,169,805 fish. The run is forecasted to be 3.35 million this season.

We’re going to take a short break here, we’ll be back in a moment with peninsula harvests.

Vessel Registrations

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 another 179,955 sockeye in the week of July 12 through July 18, for a season total of 771,856.

At the Chignik River weir, an estimated 5,514 sockeye swam through the weir on Thursday, for a season total of 535,571 fish.

An estimated 1,043 fish were part of the early run yesterday, for a season total of just over 413,494. An estimated 4,471 fish were part of the late run yesterday, for a total of about 122,077 fish.

Area M

In Area M, harvests dropped Thursday. North and South Peninsula fleets harvested just 2,150 sockeye on Thursday, for a season total of 2,066,925.

No other species were caught yesterday. Total chinook this season is 3,652.

The total Area M season harvest across species is now at 3,168,898.

For the South Peninsula, total harvest is at 1,1,09,931 sockeye, 2,491 chinook, 43,281 coho, 633,496 pinks, and 389,545 chum.

In the North Peninsula, total harvest is an estimated 956,994 sockeye, 1,161 chinook, 43,679 coho, and 634,047 chum.

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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.
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.