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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: June 24, 2024

 The Curyung Wolverine Dance Group dances at the Blessing of the Fleet at Dillingham boat harbor on June 23, 2024.
Meg Duff
/
KDLG
The Curyung Wolverine Dance Group dances at the Blessing of the Fleet at Dillingham boat harbor on June 23, 2024.

The baywide catch is up to nearly 230,000 fish so far this season, with Egegik fleets bringing in 97,000 of those fish yesterday. The third Port Moller stock composition estimate of the season came out yesterday, indicating lots of fish heading towards the Wood River. Lots of fishermen are heading that way too, with permit counts in the Nushagak district increasing by nearly 100 in the next two days.

Get in touch and share some perspective — give us a call at 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.

Dillingham Blessing of the Fleet and Harbor Day

At the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Dillingham on Sunday, a bell rang out for 97 lives lost fishing in Bristol Bay. The event is a memorial and a sendoff, with prayers and good wishes for men and women getting ready to start fishing sometime this week.

But this year’s event wasn’t just about remembering lives lost. It was also about keeping fishermen safe this season.

Fishermen can stop by the EMT office at the Dillingham boat yard from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday for CPR and first aid refreshers, blood pressure checks, and free Narcan kits. Free Narcan kits are also available through Project Hope.

Blessingofthefleet.mp3

Postcard from the Boatyard

Dillingham's boatyard is buzzing with fishing crews as the first opener of the Bristol Bay salmon season fast approaches. Jack Darrell caught up with new and returning fishermen as they loaded up their boats and has this audio postcard.

24succulents.WAV

The Numbers

The baywide catch on Sunday was just under 121,596 fish, bringing the total season catch to 229,322.

Nushagak 

At the Nushagak River sonar, fish counts calmed down over the weekend. Just over 4,042 sockeye passed on Sunday for a total of nearly 92,389 fish up the river so far.

739 Chinook passed the Nushagak River sonar, for a total of 9,723 so far this season.

About 4,578 chum salmon passed the sonar yesterday, for a total of 42,748 thus far.

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

For chinook salmon, the escapement goal range in the Nushagak River is 55,000 to 120,000.

Wood River

A smaller run of about 11,568 sockeye passed the Wood River counting tower on Sunday, bringing the total escapement to nearly 153,684, with another 708 fish passing the tower as of 6 a.m. this morning.

The escapement goal range for the Wood River this year is 700,000 to 3 million fish, and the forecast is for around 7.8 million sockeye.

The Igushik tower crew is just getting set up and counts are expected to start tomorrow.

Togiak

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

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

Naknek-Kvichak 

Naknek and Kvichak fishing fleets caught no fish yesterday, their season total remaining at about 1,605 fish. So far, drifters in the Naknek and Kvichak Rivers have caught 44.4% of the season’s total catch. Setnetters on the Kichak have caught 44.6% of the season’s catch and setnetters on the Naknek have caught 11%.

The Naknek tower crew counted 96 spawners yesterday, bringing their total to 366 fish so far.

Counts from the Kvichak tower crew have begun, with 114 fish counted yesterday and a total of 186.

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, and the Alagnak River has a minimum escapement goal of 210,000.

Egegik 

Things in Egegik are certainly picking up, with a catch of 97,020 fish yesterday, bringing the cumulative catch to 181,103, with an average drift delivery of 495 fish. So far, Egegik drifters have caught 88.2% of the season’s total catch, and setnetters have caught 11.8%.

522 spawners made it past the counting towers in Egegik yesterday, bringing the season’s total escapement to 4,872 fish so far.

The Egegik 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

Ugashik brought in 24,576 fish yesterday. The season’s cumulative catch is 46,614, with an average drift delivery of 270 fish. So far, Ugashik drifters have caught 94.3% of the season’s total catch, and setnetters have caught 5.7%.

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.

Ugashik escapement counts are scheduled to begin on June 27th.

Vessel Registrations

As of 9 a.m. this morning, in Egegik, there are 257 permits on 187 boats. That will remain at 257 permits on 190 boats by Wednesday, and the number of DBoats will drop from 70 to 67.

The Ugashik District has 113 permits on 77 boats, which will decrease to 111 permits on 75 boats in the next 2 days. DBoats will stay at 36.

In the Naknek-Kvichak District, there are now 83 permits on 73 boats. That will bump up to 89 permits on 77 boats by Wednesday. DBoats will increase from 10 to 12 in 2 days.

In the Nushagak, there are 135 permits on 107 boats. In the next 2 days, that will increase quite a bit to 234 permits on 169 boats. DBoats will move up from 28 to 65.

The Togiak District has 13 permits on 13 boats, which should stay the same in the next two days.

In total bay-wide, there are 601 active permits on 457 boats and 144 DBoats.

Chignik River weir

At the Chignik River weir, 16,464 sockeye swam through the weir on Sunday, for a season total of 109,629 so far.

An estimated 15,784 fish were part of the early run, and roughly 680 fish were part of the late run.

Area M

Over there in Area M, fleets harvested 175,968 sockeye on Sunday for a season total of 980,334 sockeye.

220 chinook were caught in Area M yesterday, bringing the total season harvest to 1,185 so far.

31,519 pinks were harvested on Sunday, making the current season total 239,247.

No Coho were caught the other day, their season harvest is at 135.

And 36,200 36,238 chum were brought in yesterday, bringing their total to 283,520.

The majority of commercial harvests this season have been caught on the South Peninsula by South Unimak and Shumagin Islands fleets, with more sockeye harvests coming in from the Nelson Lagoon, Port Moller, and now the Dolgoi island area.

And now on to the Port Moller Test Fishery:

Yesterday the test fishery posted their 3rd stock composition estimate of the season.

The largest percentage of the fish sampled were swimming towards the Wood River – an estimated 28 percent were headed there.

About 14 percent of the sampled sockeye were swimming towards the Egegik River.

An estimated 13 percent of the samplings were on their way to the Nushagak River, and another 13 percent to the Kvichak River.

About 11 percent were heading towards the Ugashik River.

The estimate for the Naknek river is 11 percent, about 5 percent for the North Peninsula, and 2 percent for the Kuskokwim River. Another 2 percent are headed to the Igushik River, and less than 1% are on their way to both the Togiak and Alagnak Rivers.

North Peninsula 5.3%

Ugashik 11.3%

Egegik 14.3%

Naknek 10.8%

Alagnak 0.4%

Kvichak 13.2%

Nushagak 13.3%

Wood 28.3%

Igushik 1.5%

Togiak 0.1%

Kuskokwim 1.6%

For catch indices, test fishery crews report winds picking up out of the northwest, and numbers evening out across stations. For Port Moller catches on Sunday, no fish were caught at Stations 2 and 24.

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

Station 4 caught 5 fish in the small net and 1 fish in the big net. That catch index is 14.

Station 6 caught 22 fish in the small net and 7 fish in the big net. That catch index is 62.

Station 8 caught 2 fish in the small net and 16 fish in the big net. That catch index is 39.

Station 10 caught 28 fish in the small net and 5 fish in the big net. That catch index is 55.

Station 12 caught 6 fish in the small net and 8 fish in the big net. That catch index is 23.

Station 14 caught 14 fish in the small net and 7 fish in the big net. That catch index is 45.

Station 16 caught 20 fish in the small net and 1 fish in the big net. That catch index is 42.

Station 18 caught 11 fish in the small net and 5 fish in the big net. That catch index is 34.

Station 20 caught 0 fish in the small net and 27 fish in the big net. That catch index is 54.

Station 22 caught 5 fish in the small net and 2 fish in the big net. That catch index is 14.

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.
Ryan Berkoski just finished his freshman year at New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. This summer, Ryan is working as an announcer at KDLG running Open Line, thanks to generous funding from BBEDC.
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.