Bristol Bay Harvest Climbs Toward 28.5 Million Sockeye Forecast

By Margaret Bauman

Under overcast skies, with temperatures hovering in the high 40s, and the constant chance of rain, commercial fish harvesters aboard some 1,400 vessels, caught 17.5 million salmon in Bristol Bay through July 6.

The forecast from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is for a harvest of some 28.5 million reds, out of a run estimated at 38.5 million fish.

“It’s been a steady slow grind,” said Tim Sands, the state area management biologist for the Nushagak district, speaking from his office in Dillingham. “It’s been a windy year, pretty windy most days,” with temperatures in the 40s and low 50s, he said.

Rainy and cool weather also has been no stranger to the Dillingham or to Naknek areas. “It’s been a dreary summer,” echoed Paul Salomone, area management biologist at Naknek for the Egegik and Ugashik districts.

On the bright side, there have been a lot of three ocean fish, typically big and healthy, averaging 6 pounds plus, Salomone said.

The total run through July 6 – 23,507,672 fish, included an estimated 360,000 fish inriver. The cumulative escapement for all of Bristol Bay measured 5,618,225, state biologists said.

For the east side of the bay, through July 6, the Ugashik district had a total run of 2,466,623 fish, with an estimated 150,000 inriver. The cumulative catch stood at 1,751,573 fish, plus 565,050 reds in escapement.

For Egegik district, the total run was 5,023,642 fish, with a cumulative harvest of 4,405,326 fish and cumulative escapement of 608,316 fish.

The Naknek-Kvichak has seen a total run of 10,118,227 fish, with cumulative harvest of 7,078,025 reds and 2,840,202 reds in escapement.

On the west side of the bay, the total run on the Nushgak district was 5,663,958 fish, including a cumulative harvest of 4,078,045 reds and another 1,585,913 reds in escapement. At Togiak district, the cumulative harvest stood at 216,478 reds, with another 18,744 fish included in the cumulative escapement and a total run of 235,222 fish.

State biologists said the average number of sockeye salmon per drift delivery added up to 644 fish for the Ugashik district, 398 fish in the Egegik district, 682 fish in the Naknek-Kvichak district, 336 fish in the Nushgak district and 333 fish in the Togiak district.

Vessel registration as of July 7 added up to 187 boats in the Ugashik district, 191 boats in the Egegik district, 555 boats in the Naknek-Kvichak district, 342 boats in the Nushgak district and 54 boats in the Togiak district, for a total registration of 1,329 boats. Those numbers were expected to climb two days later to 225 boats in the Ugashik district, 192 boats in the Egegik district, 602 boats in the Naknek-Kvichak district, and 343 boats in the Nushagak district, while the Togiak district remained steady at 54 boats, for a total of 1,416 vessels.