Nushagak River king run tapers slightly after early surge

Jun 27, 2016

The Nushagak River chinook return got off to a good start this year, but has tailed off a bit. Run seems likely to hit 95,000 escapement goal by July 4.

The Clouse kids of Dillingham display a Nushagak king caught in a subsistence harvest during the runs surprisingly healthy start.
Credit courtesy Shannon Clouse

KDLG: The 2016 Nushagak River king run took off in a fury, with 87,000 counted past the Portage Creek sonar through June 26. That's well above the bottom end of the in-river escapement goal, and edging very close to the 95,000 target. The biggest days to-date were June 17 and 18, when 17,000 and 21,000 kings were counted respectively. The run has tapered slightly since, but apparently not on account of the district's commercial sockeye fleet, which has landed less than 10,000 so far.

Saturday marked the end of the first week most area lodges brought clients in for Nushagak king fishing, and now there's some concern that the first week will end up as the most productive of the year.

Fish and Game's area sport fish biologist for Bristol Bay Jason Dye says while passage has slowed, he's confident there are still plenty of kings heading home.

A couple big days in big June have marked a solid sport fishing season for king salmon on the Nushagak river.

“There were some peak days around the 17 and 18 and I suspect that there’s probably more fish to come," he said Monday. "That’s based on historical information. Also, we’ve had calmer, warmer weather, which typically doesn’t move fish upriver. We need a good blow and a storm to move fish upriver. That being said, it’s possible that the peak is past at this point, but I’m still hopeful there are more fish to come.”

There's one concern this summer's anglers need not worry over: Dye says the possibility of any emergency order restrictions on the sport effort is remote. Just 8,000 more kings need to pass the sonar to hit the department’s escapement goal of 95,000.

“This is probably the first time I’ve been able to say that in a long time this early in the year. There’s always a possibility of something. But at this point in terms of restrictive emergency orders, there’s almost no chance. (It’s) as close to a guarantee as you can get, we should hit that (escapement goal).”

Total king count on the Nushagak was 87,036 as of Sunday. Commercial king catch in the Nushagak District is at 7,000.