Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 4, 2018

Jul 4, 2018

Happy Independence Day, Bristol Bay! The Wood River posted another huge escapement on Tuesday, but not all is well in area fisheries. On the Alaska Peninsula, villages near the Chignik River are asking for help from the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the Governor as they struggle with apparent run failure.

Fishermen in Queen Slough launch fireworks in the wee hours of July 4, 2018.
Credit Bruce Ilutsik

Another 636,474 sockeye made it up the Wood River to spawn yesterday. That escapement is the river's second largest on record. It is only smaller than Monday’s 1.1 million escapement.

What does the data coming from the Port Moller Test Fishery in combination with the catch and escapement numbers in the Nushagak District tell us about shape of this year’s run?

“It seems like the west side is coming in at least at forecast, 20 million or better,” said Scott Raborn of the Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute. “Odds are it’s going to be maybe better than 25 million. The Wood River seems to be exceptionally strong this year. They have an unprecedented amount of fishing power in the district and they still can’t plug the river. There are still plenty of sockeye escaping into the wood. I would think that it’s peaked, but Port Moller indicates that there’s still plenty of fish on the way…there’s still a lot of fish bound for the Nushagak District over the next several days. I’d say through [July] 9 at least.”

On the other hand, Egegik seems to be coming in low. Total run to the district now sits at 1.4 million sockeye out of a forecasted 9.1 million.

“Most of the run was forecasted to be age 2.2 and 2.3 fish, and we just haven’t seen a lot of 2.2 fish in the age composition from Port Moller this year. It may be a missing component in Egegik, causing the run to be less than forecasted.”

Also coming in low this year, the run to the Chignik River. KDLG’s Mitch Borden travelled to the village of Chignik Bay last week to speak with fishermen, who are struggling with apparent run failure.  Area villages are asking for help from the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the Governor.

Boats sit idle in the Chignik Bay harbor.
Credit Mitch Borden/KDLG

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).