Above average run of kings forecast for Copper River

Early state forecasts for the Copper River – Prince William Sound region commercial fisheries are bright for Chinook salmon in the Copper River, sockeyes in Coghill Lake and pinks in Prince William Sound, but still 14% below the 10-year average for the overall red salmon run into the Copper River.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game regional forecast released last Friday cautioned, as usual, that such forecasts are inherently uncertain and used primarily for gauging the general magnitude of anticipated runs and setting early season harvest management strategies. Department plans for 2023 are to continue to manage the Copper River – Prince William Sound area commercial salmon fisheries in season based primarily on the strength of salmon abundance indices, including sonar counts, weir passage, aerial escapement surveys and fishery performance data, the forecast report said.

For Chinooks the forecast range is predicted to be 38,000 to 74,000 fish, or 15% above the 10-year average of 46,000 kings.

For the Copper River wild and Gulkana hatchery reds, the anticipated run is for 1.7 million fish in a forecast range of 1,047,000 to 2,343,000 reds, or 14% below the 10-year average run of 1,961,000 fish.  That includes a forecast range of 1,017,000 to 2,275,000 for wild sockeyes, or 9% below the 10-year average of 1,806,000 reds. For Gulkana hatchery sockeyes, the forecast is for a range of 30,000 to 68,000 fish, or 68% below the 10-year average of 155,000 fish, the ADF&G predicted.

State biologists had good news for harvesters at Coghill Lake, with a forecast range of 357,000 to 549,000 wild sockeyes, which would be 165% above the 10-year average.

The wild salmon forecast for Prince William Sound came in at 10,420,000 to 30,040,000 pinks, or 26% above the 10-year average of 16,100,000 in this odd year run, but the forecast for wild chum salmon for Prince William Sound was 154,000 to 625,000 fish, or 17% below the 10-year average of 470,000 fish.