Welcome to an inside look at gillnetting in southeast Alaska. This video was just posted today, so it's obvious that everyone else has fish on the brain over the past few weeks, too. Stay tuned for LIVE updates from the upcoming salmon season in southeast Alaska.
The best part of commercial fishing is the opportunity to work with incredible people. I was lucky enough to make a friend for life in Jay Fisher. In my earliest years of fishing, I remember Jay working on the F/V Bobetta and trading sets beside the F/V Coral Sea. Over the years, Jay and I became close friends and found ourselves working together on the F/V Kona Rose. I coined the title, “The Fish Whisperer” for Jay because of his level of focus in the skiff. My favorite years of southeast seining were working with Jay. So, I was overjoyed to learn that Jay would be running his own boat, the Jensen Reagan in 2011. The first year of being a captain for Jay was humbling and he found himself back as a crew the following year. The key is, Jay never gave up, and that lesson is most important now. Jay is currently fighting spinal meningitis and finds himself paralyzed from the neck down. Please keep him in your prayers and hope that we see him out on the water again. Good luck, buddy!
Chum salmon have played a huge part in this season’s west coast salmon tally. Commercial Purse seining and gill netting for salmon continues into the end of November in Puget Sound. The price is less than expected at around 80 cents. Typically the late season Puget Sound chum fetch a higher price than the Alaskan varieties. However, this season’s Puget Sound chum salmon is nearly 40 cents less than last season’s average price. Luckily, the run was upgraded this season to 550,000 fish. All in all, it should make for a good pay-day. The average crew share should be about 6000 dollars for about 8 actual days of fishing. Good luck to all the captains and crews in this year’s fishery! Here’s a few pics from my one day season last year in the sound on the F/V Quandary.
It looks like the South Sound chum salmon return is much bigger than forecasted.
A story by the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission reports that a tribal test fishery conducted near Kingston in October and November revealed the run is stronger, which is good news for all fishermen who pursue these late arriving fish.
The preseason forecast in southern Puget Sound was about 200,000 chum, but fisheries managers have updated the run size estimate to 550,000.
To view the story on the South Sound tribal chum salmon test fishery go to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commisssion website
via South Puget Sound chum salmon return is much larger than anticipated | Reel Time Fishing Northwest | The Seattle Times.
The severe declines in Chinook salmon over the years have prompted Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game to bring together numerous industry leaders to assess the status and livelihood of King Salmon in our local Alaskan waters. The northern regions of Alaska are suffering by the lack of kings, which are a valuable resource for subsistence fishermen in remote villages. Tune in live on the ADFG website to listen and interact with the event. Click here for live streaming. A recent episode of Yukon Men highlights the struggle for salmon on the Yukon River. Its embedded below. A report from Dutch Harbor News highlights the subject, as well.
State fishery managers are asking for input from Alaskans to help solve the case of disappearing king salmon.
A letter went out last week from Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell inviting stakeholders to a two-day symposium in Anchorage later this month titled ‘Understanding Abundance and Productivity Trends of Chinook salmon in Alaska.’ The stated goal is ‘to increase understanding and develop the most complete research plan possible.’
A draft analysis by a newly appointed fisheries research team represents initial efforts by the state to better understanding the causes for Chinook declines. The report, titled “Alaska Chinook Salmon Knowledge Gaps and Needs,” says that from 1994 through 2011, Chinook catches have decreased 7 percent for subsistence users, 40 percent for commercial fishermen and 12 percent for sport users.
via Fish Factor: Stakeholders invited to symposium on king salmon – The Dutch Harbor Fisherman.
Another season is in the books! That makes number 15! The biggest factor is the price. Its hard to believe that small total catches add up so quickly. Basically, the salmon run was small, but the trend in pricing makes the season worthwhile. Overall, we fished a total of 32 days. In July, the early chum totals were incredible. At nearly 80 cents a lb., chum salmon became 10 dollar bills rolling over the deck. Even a set for 100 fish, was worthwhile. Not glorious, but it added up in the long run. Many boats made a lucrative early season on chum. In August, the weather changed. The first couple weeks were full of amazing sunshine combined with a lack any real volume of pinks. “The coast” hit by the middle of the month and a massive volume of pinks were harvested in just a few two day openers. No real volume of pinks showed up in other areas. Overall, it was a fantastic season on the F/V Halcyon. The boat functioned perfectly. There were no serious breakdowns or malfunctions. Other than human error, that is. Its been insightful to see the boat evolve into a fishing machine over the past three seasons.
Sadly, This season claimed a few vessels. Luckily, No one was seriously injured in these incidents. Early in the season the tender vessel F/V Mary Kay took on water and sank near Dixon Entrance. (here) A seiner sank up north in Slocum Arm near Waterfall Bay. (here) Also, an old seiner, which is now a troller took on water while being towed in and sank. (here) Here’s a twitter embed of the F/V Endurance, which suffed a collision with a tender. Yes, it was the crew. And yes, they were sleeping…
Here are a couple of YouTube treasures to give you an impression of the summer. Until next year…
Oh yeah, Eat More Salmon!
This summer has been a mixed bag of salmon highs and lows. Copper River started the salmon season with a huge record breaking run of sockeye. Bristol Bay has met many expectations, but the lack of a price jump puts a damper on a successful season. However, King salmon returns are poor. In Kenai, the failiure of the natural king run was considered a disaster. Southeast Alaskan trollers have suffered from the lack of kings, as well. Prince William Sound is the next big show. A huge run of pink salmon is predicted for this year and many boats are still waiting. In southeast Alaska, harvests are expected to be low, but the value and abundance of chum salmon has added some real economic diversity to fishermen. The summer is salmon is almost over, but the real story will still unfold. Will the pinks show up? Read on for more details of the state of salmon this summer.
Salmon season is in full effect in southeast this year. With the lack of a serious pink run, chum salmon are the hot species this year. The southern chum run has been strong at Kendrick, while the northern chum scene has been invigorated by Amalga Harbor. It’s the first chance seiners have ever had to fish this area. Typically, it’s a DIPAC hatchery program operated by a bidding process for only a few boats. Seiners will have one last chance to battle for Chum this Thursday. It should be quite a show. Good Luck, guys!
This preseason, a NOAA rep stopped by the boat to address the possiblilty of Japanese tsunami debris in commercial fishing waters this season. Well, we found this rather strange buoy on a recent fishing trip near southeast end tip of Prince of Wales island. The real shock was the mussels growing on it. I’m unfamiliar with this species in this region. So, here is my shout out! Does anyone know what these mussels are? Or, does the buoy look familiar? Numerous boats have reported a number of starnge objects around southeast alaska. I have also noticed more particulate matter on the waters recently. Could these be particles of Styrofoam? This could possibly be a huge issue in Alaska. Make sure to listen to the Audio report for FishRadio.