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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: June 17, 2024

Meghan Gervais grills up a leg of lamb for her family, who will be with her on board the F/V Maru this season.
Jessie Sheldon
/
KDLG
Meghan Gervais grills up a leg of lamb for her family, who will be with her on board the F/V Maru this season.

It’s a different start to the season than last year, with a forecasted bay-wide run of 39 million fish. This is down from last year’s total run of 54.5 million fish, and less than half of 2022’s record breaking 79 million fish run. The total escapement goal for the bay is 12.9 million fish, leaving a total harvestable surplus of 26.1 million. While counts are down compared to recent years, the forecasted run this year is still 6% higher than the long-term average, dating back from 1963 to today.

Get in touch and share some perspective — give us a call 907-842-5281 or send an email to fish@kdlg.org. If you’d like to get a message out to the fleet on this show, send your messages to the fleet to fish@kdlg.org.

2024 Season Boatyard Buzz

This season, the Bristol Bay 2024 sockeye salmon forecast estimates a total run of 39 million fish. That’s 35% smaller than the most recent 10-year average run size, and a drop from last season’s 54 and a half million fish run. This weekend in Dillingham, the boatyard and harbor were noticeably quieter, with some discussion of crews holding off on big renovations and putting boats in the water later, to help cut costs and recover from last season’s low prices. But despite the lower forecast and market uncertainty, crews seem cautiously optimistic headed into the new season. Meg and Jessie walked down to Dillingham Harbor to get the latest boatyard buzz.

2024 Boatyard Buzz

Read the full story.

Tom Rogotzke, Roger Rogotzke, and Jay Rogotzke get ready for the 2024 fishing season.
Jessie Sheldon
/
KDLG
Tom Rogotzke, Roger Rogotzke, and Jay Rogotzke get ready for the 2024 fishing season.

For a Second Year, Sockeye Season Will Open Later to Protect Nushagak Kings

For the second year in a row, commercial sockeye fishing will open later in the Nushagak District than in past years. The goal is to give struggling King salmon more time to swim upstream.

This year, like last year, there are three possible triggers for the start of the season. The latest is next Friday, June 28. But Area Management Biologist Tim Sands expects that fishing will start sooner. KDLG’s Meg Duff has more.

Year Two of the Nushagak King Action Plan

Read the full story.

Meet the 2024 Fisheries Report team

This season, you will hear both new and old voices on the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report. Take a moment to meet you 2024 Fisheries Report team!

Introducing the 2024 Fisheries Report Team

Messages to the Fleet

A message to Mike and Emily Duta at Coffee Point—
Good luck this year, and watch out for bears! From Matt

The numbers

Nushagak

At the Nushagak River sonar, 1,171 sockeye swam upstream for a season total so far of 2,779.

King and Chum counts remain low, with only 33 king salmon swimming past the sonar site so far for a season total of 2,508.

About 730 chum salmon passed yesterday for a total of 5,089.

The Nushagak River is estimated to see a 3.5 million fish run this season, with an escapement goal range of 370,000 to 1.4 million.

The escapement goal range for king salmon in the Nushagak River is 55,000 to 120,000.

Wood River numbers will start coming in soon, with yesterday’s tower set up being delayed because of lightning. Igushik counts are scheduled to begin on June 23rd.

Togiak

No numbers from Togiak yet. The district’s counts are scheduled to begin on July 5th.

The total inshore run for Togiak River sockeye is forecasted to be about 680,000 fish, with an escapement goal range of 120,000 to 270,000.

Naknek-Kvichak 

No counts are available yet for the Naknek and Kvichak rivers, but the Naknek tower crew started working today and is expecting to have escapement counts starting June 19th. The Kvichak tower crew is expected to start counts on June 21st, and Alagnak escapement numbers will likely start coming in on June 29th.

An inshore run of approximately 15 million sockeye is expected across the Naknek/Kvichak district this season.

The Naknek River escapement goal range is 800,000 to 2 million sockeye. In the Kvichak River, the escapement goal range is 2 million to 10 million fish, and the Alagnak River has a minimum escapement goal of 210,000.

Egegik

In Egegik, no counts are available yet. The district’s inshore run this season is forecasted to be about 5.5 million sockeye salmon and the river’s escapement goal is 800,000 to 2 million fish.

Ugashik

In Ugashik, no counts are available yet either. The district’s inshore run this season is forecasted to be about 4.6 million sockeye salmon and the river’s escapement goal is 500,000 to 1.4 million fish.

Vessel Registrations

Vessel Registration Data is not yet available this season, as soon as it is, you’ll hear it here first!

Chignik Weir Counts 

At the Chignik River weir, 2,814 sockeye swam through the weir yesterday, for a total of 23,479.

An estimated 2,774 fish were part of the early run, and 40 were fish part of the late run.

The Chignik’s optimal escapement goal range is 540,000 to 760,000.

Area M 

In Area M, fishing fleets harvested 102,120 sockeye on Sunday for a season total of 236,235.

Chinook season harvests are up to 369, with 161 of those fish caught yesterday. The season’s pink harvest is at 38,980, and so far 6 coho salmon have been caught. Almost all commercial harvests this season have been caught on the South Peninsula by South Unimak and Shumagin Islands fleets.

Port Moller

On to the Port Moller Test Fishery:

As of this weekend, the test fishery crew reports a slow start, which they say could be attributed to low winds. No wind means higher water visibility, which can lead to net avoidance.

Test fishery vessels will be fishing apart today and then towards each other tomorrow. The team out there hopes to have enough genetic samples by Tuesday to get the season’s first stock composition estimates to know which districts the fish are heading towards.

No fish were caught at stations 4, 6, 20, and 24. Station 2 was not fished.

At the following test fishery stations, the smaller mesh size is 4 ½ inch and the larger mesh size is 5 ⅛.

Station 8 caught 2 fish in the small net and 13 fish in the big net. That catch index is 29.

Station 10 caught 2 fish in the small net and 2 fish in the big net. That catch index is 8.

Station 12 caught 11 fish in the small net and 1 fish in the big net. That catch index is 28.

Station 14 caught 1 fish in the small net and 0 fish in the big net. That catch index is 2.

Station 16 caught 0 fish in the small net and 1 fish in the big net. That catch index is 3.

Station 18 caught 1 fish in the small net and 2 fish in the big net. That catch index is 7.

Station 22 caught 2 fish in the small net and 0 fish in the big net. That catch index is 5.

Get in touch at fish@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.

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.
Meg Duff is a fisheries reporter for KDLG's Bristol Bay Fisheries Report. She is also a freelance journalist, writing and making audio stories for publications like Scientific American, MIT Technology Review, Outside, Slate and Yale Climate Connections. Meg has a master's in journalism from New York University.