Gillnetters wrap up Friday, and Togiak herring closes for season

May 17, 2017

A total of 17,513 tons of herring reported harvested in Togiak between the two gear groups this season. (ADF&G added 500 tons of "deadloss" to the seiners total.)

Crew for Frank Woods and the F/V Wave Rider taking a quick break during the Togiak herring gillnet fishery.
Credit Frank Woods

KDLG: The 2017 Togiak herring commercial fishery has officially come to an end. The Department of Fish and Game closed it down Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. 

It seems the last of the gillnetters finished up Friday, according to area management biologist Tim Sands.

“The catch was pretty low on Friday, and then the weather was coming up … it wasn’t worth the fishermen’s time, and it wasn’t worth the processors’ time," he said. "I didn’t have catch reports from folks after Saturday morning, so I checked with them yesterday [Monday] assuming things were done, and they confirmed that.”

The final tally for the Togiak herring gillnetters was 1428 tons landed, well below their 6900 ton quota.

Including 500 tons of deadloss, the purse seine fleet took 99.3 percent of their quota of 16,585 tons.

The season started a little earlier than expected, but only by a few days. The four processors initially said the quality was good and they fished the seiners steady for a week till they reached their quota. More gillnetters participated this year and had ample time to fish.

Perhaps on account of cooler water temperatures, the fish around moved differently and seemed slower to start their spawn this spring.

“It was a strange season for me in the way the fish came in and didn’t come into district," said Sands. "You know the weather was really poor. I talked to a couple spotter pilots throughout the fishery and they never saw fish showing in the biomass numbers that we’ve seen recently …. it was just a strange season.”

A few of the fishermen trickling in have said the weather was worse this year than last. Not all of the buyers say they were pleased with the amount or quality of their catch.

Again this year, Togiak herring filets processed in Naknek will be featured at dozens of Seattle area restaurants and grocery stores at Northwest Herring Week June 19-25.