Fewer summer chum, kings in Yukon than predicted

The Yukon River at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Pilot Station sonar station. The distance between the two sonar-counting stations on either bank is 3,280 feet wide. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

The Yukon River at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Pilot Station sonar station. The distance between the two sonar-counting stations on either bank is 3,280 feet wide. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

Fewer summer chum and king salmon swam up the Yukon River than expected this season, although high water and debris made it tough to catch and count the salmon swimming by.

At first, many hoped that the king run was late and that restrictions would be lifted, but with more than 90 percent of the kings past the lower Yukon, data indicates that only around 165,000 king salmon made it past Pilot Station, much less than the low-end projection of 175,000.

The summer chum numbers also are below the pre-season forecast of 2.5 million; the in-season forecast is now around 1.7 million fish. The data also indicates that the Yukon River king run includes fewer older fish than predicted.

With most of the king run now through the lower Yukon, managers have opened up the South Coastal District to 24-hour, 7-day-a-week subsistence fishing with 7.5-inch or smaller mesh gillnets. This region includes Hooper Bay and Scammon Bay.

In District 1, subsistence fishing is open nine hours each day with 7.5-inch or smaller mesh gillnets from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. until further notice.

In District 2, subsistence fishing is open for a series of 18-hour openings for 7.5-inch or smaller mesh gillnets. The first opening began Monday at 2 p.m. and ended at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 10. The second subsistence opening is scheduled to begin Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. and close Friday at 8 a.m.

Commercial fishing for chums continues in the lower Yukon River with daily gillnet openings in District 1, including Black River. The gear in the commercial openings is limited to 6-inch or smaller mesh. The daily nine-hour openings run from 6 p.m. until 3 a.m. the following day.

In District 2, commercial fishing is open for 12-hour periods with 6-inch or smaller mesh gillnets. These periods run from noon to midnight and are scheduled for Tuesday, July 10; Wednesday, July 11; Friday, July 13; Saturday, July 14; Sunday, July 15; and Tuesday, July 17.

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