Salmon mural in Dillingham by Arpayo Moore


The pace of Alaska’s salmon catches has picked up after a slow start in June.

By Wednesday, the statewide harvest was approaching 32 million fish, of which nearly 25 million were sockeyes. That’s up by 124 percent from last year’s sockeye take at this time.

Over 18.5 million of the reds were from Bristol Bay, more than twice the pace of last year’s catch. Fishermen at the Nushagak region again pulled in a harvest this week topping one million sockeyes for the third time this season.

The Alaska Peninsula was the second highest producing region for both sockeyes and pink salmon.

Pinks, which run in distinct two year cycles with odd years being stronger, are seeing catches down by 56% so far compared to the average of the previous three odd-numbered years.

The statewide tally has just topped 4 million pinks although the timing for peak harvests is still several weeks away.

Likewise for chums, which have a harvest nearing 2.7 million. That’s 32% higher than at the same time last summer, but well below the five year average.

Prince William Sound is in the lead for chum catches at nearly 2 million.

Meanwhile, catches are going slow for king salmon, and most cohos will arrive in mid-August.

Alaska salmon managers are projecting the 2021 statewide salmon catch to top 190 million fish, a 61% increase over last year’s take of about 118 million salmon. The boost is due to an expected increase of pink salmon catches of more than 124 million humpies, nearly 50% higher than last year.

Our salmon data comes from the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game’s daily Blue Sheet and the weekly report compiled by McKinley Research Group for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.