20,030,171: final tally on Nushagak District banner year

Dec 6, 2017

With final tally from fish tickets, Bristol Bay's westside district officially reached a milestone most never thought possible.

Helping curb Wood River over-escapement. July, 2017.
Credit KDLG

After Bristol Bay’s sockeye season winds down, the Department of Fish and Game works on inputting all the data from fish tickets, both the electronic and paper kind. Westside area management biologist Tim Sands says this gives a more accurate tally, which coincidentally just pushed his district to a new milestone.

“The numbers that we’ve been working have been the in-season daily hales that the processors give us, and they’re just not as, I mean, they’re good, they’re close, but they’re not as accurate as the final fish ticket numbers," said Sands. "And we discovered yesterday that the total run to the Nushagak District is actually over 20 million.”

The Nushagak District had an incredibly surprising year, shattering several catch and escapement records. At the end of the season, the total run stood at about 19.5 million, which was still 135 percent bigger than the preseason forecast of 8.3 million fish.

Never had Nushagak boats hauled in the volume of sockeye like they did in 2017, and several sank on account of it.

The total run now stands at 20,030,171 sockeye, an all-time record high. The fleet also had its biggest combined harvest, the Wood River saw its highest escapement, and the Nushagak had the highest count since 1980’s strike year.

"And, our biggest day, the 3rd of July, we previously estimated about 1.2 million ... 1,543,809, was what we caught on July 3rd. [Biggest day for the Nushagak] ever by far," said Sands.

ADF&G believes an even bigger run is headed back to the Nushagak District next year, predicting a 21.8 million sockeye return.

dave@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281