Kodiak’s commercial salmon season opened over the weekend. James Jackson, the Kodiak Commercial Salmon and Herring Area Management Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says that on Friday the fish started moving at Karluk.
“We had one day of 44,000 followed by several twentys and, basically, in four days, we got about 100,000 fish past the weir,” said Jackson. “That got us caught up on escapement, and so the commercial fishery opened on [Jun 9]. That’s a very traditional opening time.”
Jackson says the harvest was not as strong as ADF&G had anticipated, about half to three quarters of the usual amount.
“So, because of that, the areas that are opened and closed on the west side of Kodiak based on early run sockeye are going to shut down for a day or two, and then they’re going to open again on the 14th. And those time frames, that 9th opener and that 14th opener, are very traditional openers for Kodiak,” said Jackson.
He says it is going to be a while for other river systems on the island.
“The Ayakulik, we’ve got pretty good escapement right now, just not enough to justify a commercial opening yet, but it is doing pretty good,” said Jackson. “The same thing goes in Alatak. Alatak, we don’t have enough fish to justify an opening yet, but we are doing okay with escapement. At upper station I think it is the second highest escapement to date in the last ten years, but just still not enough to justify an opening yet. Dog Salmon, there’s a lot of fish holding in the flats, and we’re just waiting for those fish to move as well.”
Jackson says that the small sockeye runs of the Buskin and Litnik on the north end of the island will have to pick up really fast or ADF&G will have to impose both sport and subsistence restrictions.
He adds that the sockeye are smaller than usual this year, something seen across the state. Until last Wednesday, very few fish were counted in local weirs. Jackson has said earlier indicators show that all the major runs will be later this year.