Silver Salmon are spawning all across Kodiak. Its looking like a pretty normal year for the cohos, except they’re coming in especially big and strong.
Silver salmon are currently filling Kodiak’s waters, but according to James Jackson, a commercial salmon area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the run didn’t begin on time.
“They showed up a little later, but when they came in they sure came in hot and heavy.”
Weirs in Upper Station and Karluk started seeing silvers around late August. So far commercial fishermen have caught about 328,000 cohos, which is pretty average. One thing that isn’t typical though is the size of the fish.
“So the last five years the average weight is about, in the commercial fisheries, a little under seven pounds. And the current average weight that we have for silvers right now is almost seven and a half pounds.”
Jackson says that’s a big increase when you take into account it’s the average for hundreds of thousands of salmon. He says the reason silvers are probably bigger this year is because there’s a lot of food for them around Kodiak. During surveys, Jackson says he’s seen a lot of fish silvers eat.
“They’re probably just out there feeding before they’re coming into spawn and they’re just getting really big.”
Even though there’s plenty of coho, Jackson doesn’t know how much longer commercial fishermen will be catching them. The length of the region’s silver salmon commercial fishery depends on things like the weather and market factors.
“We’ll obviously have some more commercial fishing openings for silvers. But whether fisherman want to keep going after them or its worthwhile for them to keep going after them is a different story.”
Kodiak silvers spawn later in the season compared to other runs around the state, so seafood processors don’t need them as much. Jackson says, fishermen try to do everything they can with the salmon available, but a lot of silvers aren’t harvested.