Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 10, 2018

Jul 10, 2018

Another record falls for the Nushagak district: Total run blew past last year's record of 20.27 million on Monday. What's more, Wood River escapement could top last year's record by more than 2 million. 

Tenders drift off Dillingham's dock Monday night under gnarly-looking skies that poured rain for days across the region.
Credit Austin Fast / KDLG

Escapement is still way low on the Kvichak River, so fishermen will stay in the Naknek River Special Harvest Area at least through Wednesday evening and sport fishermen are joining the conservation effort. Along the Kvichak River and Lake Iliamna drainage, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has reduced the bag and possession from five sockeye to two.

The bottom escapement goal for the Kvichak River is 2 million. By this date in July, escapement is typically well over 1 million, but escapement to the Kvichak is currently sitting at 750,000 sockeye with 300,000 in-river. 

Over on the west side, Wood River escapement has shattered last year's record high of 4.27 million, standing at 5.1 million as of Tuesday morning. Area management biologist Tim Sands expects the Wood's escapement to hit 6 million by season's end. He speculates that warm winters a few years back may have given these fish the edge they needed to survive in the ocean. 

“Any little thing that can make them more competitive or survive at a better rate is all it needs," Sands said. "That, of course, doesn't explain why other systems aren't doing so well. I don't know why we're fortunate and everyone else isn't as fortunate as we are. That's where my theory kind of breaks down.”

We'll take a trip to the Wood River counting tower to see how the crew up there handles counting million-sockeye days.

In this episode of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report, KDLG's Izzy Ross delves into an employment issue that has loomed large in Bristol Bay for the past few years. An increase in demand for H-2B visas nationwide has left seafood processors struggling to find enough workers. She met U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and processor representatives in King Salmon to find out more. 

"I’ve always heard you don’t have the population to staff these up," Acosta said. "Flying in, I have a different view of whether or not you have the population – it is literally impossible."

We also bring on a climatologist who explains the ratty weather we've seen since Saturday came from remnants of a tropical cyclone from the Sea of Japan. We'll at least get a couple days' reprieve, but there's more gnarly seas coming on another weather system this coming weekend. Stay safe out there.

Catch this program nightly at 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on AM 670, and online at KDLG.org. (With early broadcasts Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.)

Letters from home to your friends and family in the Bay this summer? Email us at avery@kdlg.org, or call 907-842-5281.

Have feedback, suggestions of something you'd like to hear? Reach Avery Lill / Izzy Ross / Austin Fast / or Mitch Borden (in Naknek).

Keeping count of sockeye escapement at the Alagnak River tower.
Credit Molly Dischner

Isaac Reynolds (left) and Andrew Reynolds are on the three-person crew keeping count of sockeye escapement round the clock at the Wood River tower near Aleknagik.
Credit Austin Fast / KDLG
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game cabin where escapement counters spend their summer near the Wood River boasts an incredible view of Lake Aleknagik.
Credit Austin Fast / KDLG