Bristol Bay Run Nears 20 Million Sockeye

Bristol Bay fishermen had their biggest haul of the season July 8, with about 1.7 million sockeye harvested, including 1 million from the Naknek-Kvichak district.

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Fish are unloaded in Naknek, June 28, 2015. Credit Hannah Colton/KDLG
Fish are unloaded in Naknek, June 28, 2015.
Credit Hannah Colton/KDLG

On Wednesday fishermen in Bristol Bay hauled in their biggest catch to date – landing about 1.7 million sockeye, including 1 million harvested out of the Naknek-Kvichak district. The total run to Bristol Bay now stands at about 20 million sockeye, which is still well below the forecast … but Port Moller’s test fishery says catches the last two days are near the highest of the season.

Eastside fishermen had strong catches Wednesday.

The million fish out of Naknek-Kvichak Wednesday brought the season total there to 3.3 million fish. The Naknek hit the lower end of its escapement goal yesterday, with 60,000 fish counted yesterday bringing the total to about 887,000, within the 800,000 to 2 million sockeye range. The Kvichak goal was adjusted to 2.35 million fish earlier this week, and yesterday’s count of 755,000 reds brought the season total to 2.3 million, nearing the goal.

In Ugashik, 374,000 sockeye caught Wednesday; season total for the district is 2 million, and that river is also nearing it’s escapement goal – 500,000 are needed; yesterday’s count brought the season total to 457,000. Yesterday’s Egegik catch was 308,000 fish; season total is 3.9 million, and the lower end of the escapement goal has already been met.

Westside catches and counts were a little slower yesterday.

The Togiak catch Wednesday was about 10,000 sockeye, bringing the season total to  57,000. This is typically the peak of the season there, but ADFG enacted restrictions there to limit fishing due to low counts and low catches so far.  No fish were counted at the Togiak tower yesterday.

In the Nushagak District, 94,000 reds caught yesterday, bringing the season total to about three million. The Nushagak, Wood and Igushik rivers have all met the lower end of their escapement goals.

More fish could be on the way.

The Port Moller Test Fishery posted its second best day of the season yesterday, with a replacement index of 80. The only day better was June 26, with an index of 82. Tuesday’s index was 76.  The Port Moller catches typically indicate how many fish are on their way back to Bristol Bay, and are several days out from the five Bristol Bay fishing districts.

Nushagak District Area Manager Tim Sands said he doesn’t know how many of the Port Moller fish are headed to his district, in part because genetics results aren’t in yet.

“I’m not the expert  on Port Moller, but it’s a surprise to me to see such a big bump. And of course, two days of missing data as well, so we don’t know what’s there.”

Sands said he hopes some are headed to his district.

“I’m optimistic that some of those fish will be heading to the Nushagak District, how much we don’t know, but it’s certainly better than a complete drop off out there.”