Alaska salmon catch is more than half way to projection

Alaska's wild salmon season has passed the halfway mark.

by | July 20, 2022

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Pace of fishery is 30% faster than last season

Alaska’s statewide salmon harvest continues to pull ahead of last year’s pace.

It’s being fueled by a surge of pink salmon at Prince William Sound, combined with the long tail of Bristol Bay’s record-breaking sockeye run.

That’s the takeaway from the free weekly salmon updates by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute compiled by Sam Friedman at McKinley Research Group.

The statewide harvest across all salmon reached 90,719 fish by July 20, which is well over 30% higher than the same time in 2021 (2020 for pinks).

That makes it more than halfway to the 2022 season projection of 160.5 million salmon, (down 30% from 2021).

Nearly 90% of Alaska’s projected 74 million sockeye harvest has been hauled in.

In contrast to strong sockeye runs in Bristol Bay and some other regions, chum (keta) and Chinook salmon harvests are down year-to-date, 25% and 32% respectively.

The statewide chum catch by July 20 had topped 4.6 million fish on a forecast of 15.4 million; for Chinook, the catch was 152,000 out of a projected 310,000 kings.

Pink salmon harvests are now well above the 2020 benchmark because of strong Prince William Sound harvests. The statewide pink catch was approaching 17.6 million on a projection of 67.2 million humpies.

Alaska salmon permit regions

Regional glances

Bristol Bay, AK Peninsula, PWS going strong; not so great elsewhere

Catches at Bristol Bay peaked two weeks ago, but fishing has stayed strong with a whopping 14.3 million reds still crossing the docks and counting. The total Bay sockeye catch by July 20 was nearing 57.4 million fish.

“Based on run timing, there are likely a few more weeks of moderate harvests remaining in Bristol Bay which may lead to a shortage of refrigerated shipping containers toward the end of the season,” the update said.

At the neighboring Alaska Peninsula, sockeye catches had topped 7.3 million. exceeding expectations.

Kodiak’s take of  sockeyes was called ‘average’ on a catch of just over one million reds. Kodiak catches of chums and pinks were both below 300,000 which local AK Dept. of Fish and Game managers called “below average.”  

In what appears to be a statewide trend, at Kodiak only 135 seiners and 84 set netters have made salmon landings so far, well below last year’s participation of 168 seiners and 130 set gillnetters. And 2021 was well below average when only 51% of Kodiak’s 587 permit holders made landings.  

In fact, each of the ADF&G weekly salmon summaries this season has mentioned less participation by fishermen in every Alaska region.

At Prince William Sound, seiners were pulling in the pinks with catches nearing 16 million. Prince William Sound also is leading all other regions for chum catches at nearly 3 million so far, along with a nice take of over 1.3 million sockeye salmon.

It’s been slow going again at Upper and Lower Cook Inlet where total salmon catches were barely above one million fish, nearly all sockeyes.

Southeast slumps

At Southeast Alaska, just over1.3 million salmon had crossed the docks so far. ADF&G reported low effort in nearly all regions, except for a burst of good chum activity at Lynn Canal.

Fish tickets for Southeast trollers show record low participation for the summer Chinook season that started on July 1. The target quota is 110,200 kings.

Eric Jordan of Sitka trolls for salmon aboard his FV I Gotta

The Southeast troll salmon managers at ADF&G always provide the newsiest weekly write-ups. A sample below:

“Preliminary fish ticket data reported through July 14 indicate a total of 527 trollers have landed 45,000 Chinook, with another 12,000 Chinook salmon reported to be onboard vessels but not yet landed. Harvest reported on fish tickets for other species include 86,100 coho and 14,800 chum salmon. Average prices are $5.80/lb for Chinook, $1.87/lb for coho and $1.20/lb for chum salmon. Current average weights are 11.1 lb for Chinook, 4.8 lb for coho, and 8.4 lb for chum salmon. Chinook salmon average weight is up from 2021 by 0.2 lb but below the 5-year average by 0.1 lb, while coho salmon average weight is up from 2021 by 0.1 lb but below the 5-year average by 0.3 lb. Chum salmon average weight is up from 2021 by 2.0 lb but below the 5-year average weight by 0.4 lb. The current regional power troll coho salmon catch rates for this week (statistical week 29) is 31 fish/boat/day, with the highest catch rates in the Central Outside area, at 34 fish/boat/day.”

Meanwhile, at the AYK

Salmon fishing bans on the Yukon, no buyers at Kusko

The below chart sums up the salmon catches at the Arctic/Yukon/Kuskokwim regions. Some fishing will occur at Norton Sound and Kotzebue, where catches are expected to be low.

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.


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