Bristol Bay Fisheries Report, July 4, 2015

Jul 4, 2015

Total run 10.6 million through 7/3, and PMTF now suggesting a total run size of approx. 30 million, a 44 percent downgrade.

Happy 4th of July, from the Bristol Bay Fisheries Report. Pictured above is Nakeen Homepack, a small processor in between Naknek and King Salmon.
Credit Hannah Colton

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Coming up today, as the total run pushes past 10 million sockeye, Port Moller Test Fishery says the it's  likely coming in smaller (a lot smaller) than predicted. ADF&G's Travis Ellison is seeing a bump of fish to the Kvichak River, and author/painter/veteran Bristol Bay fisherman Dick Smith joins us for a conversation about the old days in the fishery, and his new book Bristol Bay Boy

PMTF Interpretation #6 for catches through July 3, 2015:

The migration this year has been very odd. By now, the run will have to be (1) several days late to come in at the pre-season forecast and/or (2) be very compressed (Figure 1). The first possibility would mean our estimates of TT are 3-4 days longer than we thought, and/or there is considerable strength left at Port Moller. The second could occur if fish are milling outside the districts causing a pooling effect. The rate of compression would be determined by how long it takes to “drain the pool”, which would be anyone’s guess.

However, at this point we must consider the possibility of a smaller run. Catches picked up over the last two days at Station 10 and are likely headed for the Naknek-Kvichak district (Table 1). Increased representation of Kvichak fish in the June 30-July 1 stock composition estimates from Port Moller is a signal the other stocks are winding down. A Replacement Index of 52 (not shown) at Station 12 yesterday indicates the run has shifted across the test fishing transect, which we have noted to be a common occurrence this year. What this has done to the fish per index (FPI) remains uncertain, which confounds the estimation of travel times (TTs) between Port Moller and the districts. Nevertheless, TT seems to be about 10 days, and based on this assumption we offer our first in-season forecasts (Figure 2). All district C+Es are estimated to be below the pre-season forecasts, which if true will cause the total inshore run to be about 30 million (44% lower than the expected 53 million).

Lagging these district forecasts backward in time based on their estimated TT distributions lets us see what the stock compositions should have looked like at Port Moller and how they compare to what was observed (Figure 3). For the most part, observed and expected stock compositions seem to agree. Given a 10-11 day travel time added to the June 30-July 1 indexes, this congruency in stock composition estimates offers some assurance that our forecasts are correct through about July 12. How our forecasts perform after this depends on how well our projections of Port Moller catches hold up. Another surge of fish would give reason to hope for a sizeable tale to the run distribution.

For now, we estimate that Port Moller peaked on June 25 making it about 2.5 days early. If so, the relationship between inshore run timing and that for the test fishery would suggest the run is about one day early (Figure 4). However, because TTs are likely longer than usual, the inshore mean day of return is estimated to be one day late (July 6). Note: our forecasts show the peak day of C+E will occur on July 8 (Figure 2).

We will update our run forecast in a few days, and hopefully say something you do not already know.