The biggest salmon story this week is the early plug of pinks at the Southern Alaska Peninsula.
By yesterday, 7.7 million pink salmon were taken there out of a statewide catch of just over 7.9 million humpies. Previously, a catch of 2.5 million pinks at the South Peninsula in 2016 was the record for June. Fish and Game said that this month’s catch could near 10 million pinks.
Typically, pink salmon return to the South Pen region in July and managers believe they are not homing in on local streams. “We don’t know where these pinks are going,” area managers told SeafoodNews.com.
No tagging studies have been done on the pinks passing through but they could be headed north to Norton Sound where record numbers have shown up for the past two years.
Sockeye catches are ticking up at Bristol Bay where the total catch was approaching four million. Copper River drifters were nearing 900-thousand reds, but harvests so far at Kodiak, Cook Inlet and elsewhere were pretty bleak. There were no fishing openers set for Chignik.
The statewide sockeye harvest so far has topped 5.8 million reds.
Chum catches were over 3 million, with nearly all coming from Prince William Sound so far.
Chums are projected to set an Alaska record this year with a catch of 29 million, nine million fish more than last year and topping the 25 million record in 2017.
Overall, the Alaska salmon harvest this year is pegged at 213 million fish, compared to just 116 million salmon in 2018.
You can track Alaska’s daily salmon catches by region and species with Fish and Game’s so called Blue Sheet.
Along with the daily blue sheet, there are also in-season summaries that graph the weekly progression of commercial salmon harvests and compare it with the five year averages.