Commercial salmon harvests in Prince William Sound have reached in excess of 1.4 million fish, with fishermen in the Coghill District alone delivering 514,893 chums, 32,509 sockeyes and 329 kings.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials put the latest overall harvest estimate for Prince William Sound at 935,685 chums, 478,568 sockeyes, 7,726 kings, 21 humpies and 10 silvers.
The Coghill district had been behind the forecast, but this period is looking pretty substantial,” said Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologist for ADF&G in Cordova. Still Botz said he doesn’t know yet if that will be enough to bring the catch up to what it was projected for that period.
The sockeye run to the Main Bay hatchery is better than anticipated and that chums being harvested are averaging close to nine pounds, he said.
Veteran harvester Bill Webber, who was fishing in the southeastern corner of the Coghill District, said that the chum harvest has been doing very well for the past week and a half.
“We were supposed to close up at 8 a.m. today and last night the department opened it again and we close at 8 p.m.,” he said in a cell phone interview from his boat on Tuesday, June 24. “We’re happy to be fishing.”
While the Copper River District has to date opened for three 12-hour fishing periods, the Coghill and Eshamy districts opened to commercial fishing for 36-hour periods beginning June 18 and June 21.
ADF&G notes that Copper River water levels are extremely high for this time in June. In the southwestern district of Prince William Sound the Armin F. Koernig hatchery terminal harvest area and special harvest area opened to purse seine fishing for 36 hours on June 14 and again on June 18, then for 24 hours on June 21. A total of 450,000 chums are forecast to return to the AFK hatchery. The historical run timing for these chums is from June 1 through July 27. In the Montague District, an area in the Port Chalmers subdistrict opened for purse seiners for 36 hours on June 14 and again on June 18 and June 21. The historical run timing for these chums is also from June 1 through July 27.
In Alaska’s westward region, the harvest reached an estimated 1.5 million fish, including 752,000 sockeyes, 509,000 chums, and 262,000 humpies, while Kodiak had 96,000 chums, 67,000 reds and 4,000 pinks.
The Alaska Peninsula’s estimated harvest was 1.4 million fish, including 685,000 reds, 413,000 chums, 258,000 pinks and 5,000 Chinooks.
The total estimated statewide commercial salmon harvest through June 26 was 6.1 million fish, including 3.5 million sockeyes, 2.3 million chums, 263,000 humpies and 57,000 Chinooks.