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Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 8, 2024

A gull flies over a boat in Bristol Bay
Corinne Smith
/
KDLG
A gull flies over a boat in Bristol Bay.

Fleets on Sunday brought in 1.5 million fish, with numbers continuing to come in across the districts. Area M numbers increased across all species. The latest stock composition from Port Moller is in, showing that almost a third of the fish are on their way to the Kvichak river, while escapement numbers there have been climbing over the weekend.

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.

Fisherman who died in Kvichak Bay remembered as outgoing and committed friend

Corwin Wheeler, 21, a fisherman in Bristol Bay's sockeye salmon gillnet fishery, became tangled in gear and went overboard. He died July 5, 2024.

Fisherman who died in Kvichak Bay remembered as committed friend

Read the full story.

Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association Update

After last year’s low price, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association is doubling down on marketing efforts to help promote Bristol Bay sockeye. KDLG’s Jessie Sheldon spoke with director Lilani Dunn about this year’s initiatives.

BBRSDA Update

Messages to the fleet

We have five messages to the fleet tonight.

Wishing a happy birthday to Capitan Troy and Good luck to all the guys on the Linda K. Hope your knee deep in them right now. — From Hunter

To my favorite brother, Gilbert Delkittie. Happy birthday, enjoy your day! — From your favorite sister, Joanne, Leon, and the tribe

To Captain Mike “Fish Head” Fourtner and hard-working crew of the F/V Twin Tuition: We’re hoping everyone’s glad to be back on the bay after missing last year. For a few crazy weeks it’s great to escape from other distractions!  Be smart, be safe, be appreciative of the people, time, and place. — From Geoff C. on the Deborah Ann – Charleston SC 

A shout out to Eli, Nora, Tim, Garvey and Finn for good fishing from your family and friends on Yukon Road!

To Capt. Sean Guffy, F/V Waterman: Celine Dion is suffering with Stiff Person disease, an Ben and J-lo may be having marital problems. If you don't come home now, you'll never forgive yourself. — From The Committee 

The Numbers

The baywide catch on Sunday was 1,503,608 fish, bringing the total season catch to 15,435,172. Cumulative escapement is at 9,217,662 so far. The total run as of Sunday, July 7 was estimated at 26,552,834 sockeye.

Nushagak 

In the Nushagak District, fleets hauled in 563,626 fish on Sunday, for a total of 7,835,494 fish, with an average drift delivery of 695 sockeye. The total run this season in the Nushagak District is now 12,914,062.

The drift fleet has caught 77.6% of that total harvest, while Nushagak set netters have harvested 19.8%, and set netters in the Igushik have harvested about 2.6%.

Nushagak River

The Nushagak River sonar counted 57,384 sockeye on Sunday, for a total of 1,372,314 sockeye up the Nushagak so far.

3,265 Chinook passed the Nushagak River sonar, for a total of 33,757 so far this season. That’s more than halfway to the minimum of the escapement goal range of 55,000 to 120,000 chinook in the Nushagak.

12,942 chum salmon passed the sonar yesterday, for a total of 214,000 214,247.

The Nushagak River is still within its sockeye escapement goal range of 370,000 to 1.4 million fish. The river is estimated to see a 3.5 million sockeye run this season.

Wood River 

At the Wood River counting tower on Sunday, 210,090 sockeye passed, bringing the total escapement to 3,500,982, with another 54,594 fish passing the tower as of 6 a.m. this morning.

The Wood River has surpassed its escapement goal range of 700,000 to 3 million fish, and the forecast is for around 7.8 million sockeye.

Igushik

The Igushik tower crew counted 17,250 fish yesterday, for a total of 205,272 so far, with an additional 4,554 fish counted as of 6 a.m. this morning.

Togiak

Fishing crews in Togiak caught 7,414 fish on Sunday, for a total catch of 49,007 so far, with an average drift delivery of 197 sockeye.

The Togiak tower crew counted 5,172 fish on Sunday, for a total so far of 10,974, with another 1,566 fish counted as of 6 a.m. this morning.

The total 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 318,466 fish yesterday. The season total stands at 2,871,468 fish, with an average drift delivery of 387 sockeye. So far, drifters in the Naknek and Kvichak Rivers have caught 69.2% of the season’s total catch. Setnetters on the Kvichak have caught 20.6% of the season’s catch and setnetters on the Naknek have caught 10.2%.

The Naknek tower crew counted 73,014 spawners yesterday, making their total 489,930 fish.

Kvichak escapement counts are continuing to pick up, the tower crew counted 618,696 fish yesterday, bringing their total to 1,622,658. Another 1.3 million fish are estimated to be in-river, between the commercial fishing district and the counting tower.

The total season run for Naknek/Kvichak is 7,143,352 so far.

285,222 fish were counted swimming in the Alagnak River yesterday, making their total 859,296.

A 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 

Egegik fleets brought in 317,608 fish yesterday, making the cumulative catch 2,942,987, with an average drift delivery of 964 sockeye. So far, Egegik drifters have caught 76.5% of the season’s total catch, and setnetters have caught 23.5%.

102,816 spawners were counted passing the towers in Egegik yesterday, making the season’s total escapement 883,266 fish. Another 150,000 fish are estimated to be in-river, bringing the total season run so far for Egegik to 3,976,253.

The Egegik district’s run this season is forecasted to be about 5.5 million sockeye salmon and is now within its escapement goal range of 800,000 to 2 million fish.

Ugashik

Ugashik crews hauled in 296,494 fish yesterday, their season’s catch is 1,736,216. So far, Ugashik drifters have caught 89.3% of the season’s total catch, and setnetters have caught 10.7%.

78,660 fish were counted passing the Ugashik counting tower on Sunday, bringing their total to 272,970. Another 450,000 fish were estimated in-river, bringing the total run for the season to 2,459,186.

The district’s 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 

As of 9 a.m. this morning, in Egegik, there are 217 permits on 157 boats. That should move up to 218 permits on 158 vessels in the next 2 days. D boats will stay at 60.

The Ugashik District has 232 permits on 158 boats, which will increase to 256 permits on 174 boats by Wednesday. DBoats will move up from 74 to 82.

In the Naknek-Kvichak District, there are now 583 permits on 429 boats. That will fly up to 724 permits on 532 boats by Wednesday. DBoats will bump up from 155 to 192.

In the Nushagak, there are 445 permits on 330 boats. By Wednesday, that will decrease to 438 permits on 325 vessels. DBoats will move down from 115 to 113.

The Togiak District has 19 permits on 19 boats, which will stay the same in the next 2 days.

In total bay-wide, there are 1,496 active permits on 1,093 boats and 404 DBoats.

Chignik River weir

At the Chignik River weir, 11,015 sockeye swam through the weir on Sunday, for a season total of 349,222 so far.

7,112 fish were part of the early run, and 3,903 fish were part of the late run.

Area M

Over in Area M, fleets harvested 71,367 sockeye on Sunday for a season total of 1,656,572.

1,139 chinook were caught in Area M yesterday, bringing the total season harvest to 2,923 so far.

12,886 chum were caught yesterday. Their season harvest is 439,290.

1,018 coho were caught on Sunday. Their season total is 1,185.

And 5,359 pinks were caught, the pink’s season total is 282,626.

Most commercial harvests in Area M this season have been caught by South Unimak and Shumagin Islands fleets, with harvest also coming in from Cold Bay, the Dolgoi Island area and from Morzhovoi Bay to South Unimak on the South Peninsula. And, on the North Peninsula, from Port Moller to Outer Point Heiden and from Nelson Lagoon.

Port Moller Test Fishery

On Saturday, crews released their latest stock composition for July 4 through July 5.

The largest percentage of the fish sampled were swimming towards the Kvichak River — an estimated 29% were headed there.

About 18% of the sampled sockeye were swimming towards the Wood River.

An estimated 13% of the samplings were on their way to the Nushagak River, and another 12% to the Naknek River.

About 12% were heading towards the Egegik River and the estimate for the Alagnak river is 6%.

Another 5% of the fish sampled are on their way to the North Peninsula, and 2% are headed to the Ugashik river.

One percent are on their way to the Kuskokwim river, with less than 1% on their way to both the Igushik and Togiak rivers.

North Peninsula 5.1%

Ugashik 2.3%

Egegik 11.9%

Naknek 12.0%

Alagnak 6.1%

Kvichak 29.3%

Nushagak 13.0%

Wood 17.6%

Igushik 0.7%

Togiak 0.8%

Kuskokwim 1.3%

Yesterday, Port Moller crews were able to catch fish at all stations, although numbers were quite low.

The catch index at the stations is the number of fish that would be caught in both the small mesh and the big mesh if the station were fished for a full hour. The small mesh is 4 ½ inches, and the large mesh is 5 ⅛ inches.

Station 2 had a catch index of 2.

Station 4 had a catch index of 2.

Station 6 had a catch index of 9.

Station 8 had a catch index of 64.

Station 10 had a catch index of 46.

Station 12 had a catch index of 2.

Station 14 had a catch index of 12.

Station 16 had a catch index of 2.

Station 18 had a catch index of 33.

Station 20 had a catch index of 14.

Station 22 had a catch index of 2.

Station 24 had a catch index of 12.

Overall, yesterday’s mean catch index was 17, one of the lowest averages yet in the season.

Across stations yesterday, 54 fish were caught in the small mesh, and 49 fish were caught in the big mesh. So far this season, 64% of the test fishery catches were in the small mesh, and 36% of the catches were in the big mesh.

The mean length of fish yesterday in the small mesh was 495mm, and the mean length of fish caught in the big mesh was 526mm. That’s bigger than the season average so far, which is 488 mm fish in the small mesh, and 511 mm fish in the big mesh.

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

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.
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.