Sockeye salmon run to Bristol Bay rivers Credit: medium.com
Some of the biggest salmon catches of the 2021 season have crossed the docks so far, notably at Bristol Bay where the sockeye run has set a record, topping 65 million fish!
The previous Bristol Bay record was 62.9 million reds returning in 2018. State records for the region date back to 1893.
The sockeye surge has produced a Bay catch of more than 38 million sockeye salmon so far, bringing the Alaska total to over 47 million statewide, beating preseason expectations.
Bristol Bay sockeye catches represent 82% of the statewide sockeye and 56% of all salmon harvested across Alaska.
The Alaska Peninsula is a distant second with a catch of over 5.5 million reds so far and Kodiak has topped the one million sockeye mark.
It is those hard to predict pink salmon that are supposed to push Alaska’s total salmon harvest this year to 190 million fish, up 61 percent over last year’s total take. The forecast calls for a statewide haul of 124.2 million pinks this summer.
So far pink landings are nearing 23 million, with most coming from Prince William Sound. The humpy harvest there was at 17 million this week.
Chum salmon are in short supply in all regions– a statewide catch so far of less than five million chums is less than half the usual number at this point. A total harvest of 15.3 million chums is projected for this fishing season.
Coho salmon will begin arriving in good numbers in a couple of weeks. A catch of 3.8 million cohos is expected statewide.
Some of the most sluggish salmon catches are coming from Southeast Alaska, where just over three million fish have crossed the docks. Nearly two million were pinks and under one million were chums.
The total take for the Southeast region is projected at 40.2 million salmon, of which 28 million are pinks.
At Cook Inlet, the salmon catch remains bleak at under one million fish for all species at both the Upper and Lower Inlet districts combined.
Chignik got a first commercial salmon opener this week. And way out at Norton Sound a first ever, experimental seine fishery for pink salmon opened this week.
Our salmon numbers come from the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game and from McKinley Research compiled for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.