The Alaska Division of Fish and Game reports that counts in Karluk and Ayakulik have been going through the roof in comparison with recent years, but at least in the case of the latter location, fish counts are getting back to what they were more than a decade ago.
In Ayakulik the 2014 weir count for sockeye as of Friday totaled 90,843 compared to 9,9525 for 2013 and 14,558 in 2012. The count was more than double that of 2005, which saw 44,444 pass through.
“It’s the beginning of the fishery and it’s a good start to the fishery,” said James Jackson, commercial salmon and herring area management biologist with the Alaska Division of Fish and Game.
‘The spring was really mild and fish are showing up early. On top of that, it looks like a really strong run. Ayakulik is just getting back to what it once was doing in the past,” Jackson added.
Jackson reported that “Ayakulik was doing poor for pretty much the past 12 years. So it’s just getting back to the production it was at in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. If you compare Ayakulik numbers now to almost anything right now it’s actually doing pretty well,” he said.
Karluk’s huge numbers may be a bit deceptive, although a big improvement from the past few years. For 2014, 92,857 sockeye were spotted, just under the 2013 count of 94,265. This compares with 3,169 in 2012, the jump in the last two years might seem significant, but that owes more to topography of the bay.
“Karluk has a big lagoon in front of it, and fish will hold in that lagoon. You’ll see those pass numbers go really big, really fast,” Jackson said.
“Karluk was not doing well compared to from 2008 through 2011…. But you have to take into account that if you look all the way back to 2005 you see 111,000 that pass through there,” he added.
While fish counts look good thus far, Jackson clarified it’s still very early in the season.
“We had a lot of good early escapement, unfortunate that we had to open the season due to a northeast blow, but it’s a good start to the season. We’ll know more next week,” Jackson said.
Contact Peter J. Mladineo at firstname.lastname@example.org