The Saltery River Drainage, one of Kodiak’s most popular sport fisheries, reopened to sockeye harvesting on Tuesday following a 10-day closure.
Water levels rose 7 centimeters on Aug. 5 after a period of rainfall, allowing 5,865 sockeye to pass through the weir and meeting the Department of Fish and Game’s goal for sockeye escaping harvest to spawn upriver.
As of Wednesday, 22,453 sockeye had passed through the weir, which fell within the department’s escapement goal.
The escapement goal for sockeye salmon into Saltery Lake is 15,000 to 30,000 fish. Typically, 99% of the run has occurred by August 10.
The reopening, announced in a press statement released on Monday, restores the harvest limit to five fish per day, said Area Management Biologist Tyler Polum.
The press release said that the sockeye run was “exceptionally late” this season, and escapement goals will still be achieved with harvest in the sport fishery.
“Sockeye salmon numbers have improved substantially in the Saltery River drainage and the lower end of the escapement goal for the drainage has been achieved,” Polum said in the press release.
In an interview with the Kodiak Daily Mirror, Polum said the department counted over 10,000 fish in four or five days.
The Saltery River was closed to sockeye sport fishing on Aug. 1 when the department believed the escapement goal would not be met after only 6,275 sockeye salmon had passed the Saltery Creek weir by July 29.
With rainfall in Kodiak below average so far this year, the river’s water levels were low and the fish were not swimming upriver in high numbers.
According to Assistant Area Biologist Lucas Strumpf, the water level rose from 17 centimeters on Aug. 4 to 24 centimeters on Aug. 5.
“Of all the escapement from the past year, this year was low for the majority of the year until August 5,” Strumpf said, adding that Wednesday’s escapement of 1,225 fish was in the top five or six daily escapement days this season.