Another good harvest Thursday, and Port Moller wraps up its test fishing Friday. Become a sustaining member of KDLG today!
Transcript from KDLG News broadcast: The Bristol Bay fleet had another good day of catches Thursday, landing 1.8 million sockeye. The cumulative catch is 14.3 million, and the total run is 22 million.
Naknek-Kvichak fishermen landed 700,000 Thursday, and the Kvichak River saw another half million fish counted as escapement. Egegik caught 560,000, and Ugashik 444,000.
The catch in Nushagak continues to drop off, with just 84,000 sockeye counted as harvest Thursday.
Fishermen in the west side are heading elsewhere. The fleet has dwindled to 217 permits on 188 boats. In 48 hours, the number of permits in Egegik will climb from 350 to 353; in Ugashik from 301 to 330, and Naknek-Kvichak from 670 to 785.
Among those heading east is Michael Neese on the F/V Pandemonium, who spoke with KDLG News Thursday at the Dillingham Harbor.
"It's not that tough to make the decision to move when you catch 20 fish in an opener," he said. "We think there's going to be some fish show up over there [east side], it's going to be hard to catch 'em, but it's going to be a lot better than what we're doing here."
Neese is among several fishermen, including a whole lot of set netters, who have told KDLG News about slow catches in the Nushagak District so far.
"The whole season, it's just been one big scratch over here. I mean, a big delivery over here was five, six, maybe ten thousand pounds ... normally you get some big days and you can knock down twenty thousand in two openers. That's not happening this year, and it doesn't look like it's going to happen."
The Port Moller Test Fishery also had a good day of catches Thursday, reporting a daily replacement index of 85, the second highest of the season, and on top of two previous days of strong catches. Dr. Scott Raborn offered a glimpse of his coming written interpretation by phone Friday morning.
"It looks like Ugashik is going to break the forecast, probably between 4-7 million. Egegik will probably come in under forecast, probably 6-7 million. Nushagak will probably be somewhere in that range as well. The Kvichak? That's anybody's guess."
The big postings at Port Moller the last several days, according to Raborn, are likely mostly Kvichak fish. He said the boat reported catching 100 fish in a 30 minute set at Station 10 Friday morning, the highest single catch at any station all season. But predictions at this point in the year are difficult.
"The problem with interpreting Port Moller indices late in the season is that the fish-per-index and travel time can be very different than it was before June 30, or around then. What it translates into inshore can throw the estimate back and forth five to ten million."
Today is the last day that the F/V Pandalus will be fishing at Port Moller. Raborn says he will try to issue a written interpretation Friday or Saturday, but predicting the strength of the back end of the run will be hard to do.
"One thing Port Moller is good at is detecting no fish. When you have water hauls the last three days of the test fishery, it almost guarantees that there is very little tail left. We've seen big numbers towards the end of the test fishing season before in the past; sometimes they pan out, sometimes they don't. They always represent a tail, it's just how fat that tail is remains to be seen."
UPDATE: The daily replacement index from Port Moller's Friday fishing was 53.