Kodiak fishermen are seeing some good catches of sockeye and chum salmon but only about a third of the 300-plus fleet is out on the water so far.
“Right now we’re tracking to be a little above last year. But we won’t know for sure until we get to August.”
Geoff Spalinger is a salmon manager at the Department of Fish and Game office in Kodiak. The fishing pace will pick up as pink salmon start to arrive over the next few weeks.
Pinks run in on and off year strength cycles and this year is supposed to be strong. Last summer was one of Kodiak’s worst salmon seasons on record for Kodiak, producing just six million fish – only three million were pinks. Kodiak was one of three Alaska regions declared a fishery disaster by the state, but no relief funds were provided by the Trump administration.
So far this summer Kodiak fishermen have taken more than 700,000 sockeyes out of a projected 2.5 million. The early pink salmon take is at 200,000 out of whopping catch forecast of 28 million, nine times higher than last year. Spalinger says that has fishermen and managers a bit skittish.
“I think people are hesitant to say it’s going to be that big. Right now it’s hard to tell.”
Kodiak pinks so far are weighing 3.6 pounds on average, down about a pound from last summer although Spalinger says there’s a good mix of sizes – and a good mix of skepticism about reaching the big catch forecast.
“People are pretty cautious right now about the fishery in general for pinks. It certainly looks better than last year but if we’re going to reach that large forecast it would be nice to see the catches really pick up.”
Kodiak fishermen will again be pitching n, this year with $60,000 for so called “test fisheries” to help cover management costs due to budget cuts.
“For example, aerial surveys – it will allow us to do a normal amount of surveys where we can manage the pink and chum salmon fisheries and also let us keep the weirs in longer.”
Right now, the mood is cautious optimism as Kodiak awaits the arrival of those hard to predict pinks.
“We just have our fingers crossed.”
The next few weeks will tell the tale.
Salmon Price intel: As predicted, salmon prices are higher this year. Icicle Seafoods at Larsen Bay/Kodiak as posted a sockeye price of $1.33/lb, plus 7 cents for bled/iced fish. Chums are posted at 52 cents, plus 3 cents for iced/bled. Pinks are posted at last year’s price of 22 cents, but that is expected to increase to at least 28 cents, plus 3 cents for bled/iced fish. Copper River Seafoods posted a sockeye price of $1.35/lb at Bristol Bay in late June. No other price postings available yet.