Common Property: Fall Coho

17
Sep

2015 Harvest of SSRAA and POWHA Coho: 17 September 2015

We continue to be reluctant to update the fall coho return for several reasons, but primarily because the numbers are not changing very quickly. The return pattern still doesn’t match historic information about these fish. The return didn’t look strong a week ago, and that seems even more certain today. There have been three consecutive years of what we interpret as good returns, it looks like survival went a bit the other way this year.

Everyone is aware of the warmer than usual ocean conditions…and the much poorer than anticipated pink salmon return to southern SE. Pink and coho salmon returning in a given year experience the same ocean conditions, and to some degree, the same freshwater situation. Historically in a year when pinks do well coho often do well, and the converse is true.

At this point we can account for about 130,000 coho returning from SSRAA releases. In 2014, when the dust settled, we could account for almost 700,000 adult coho produced by SSRAA releases. Since this is a late run stock, and the terminal fisheries will increase through the next two or three weeks, it is reasonable to expect more than 200,000 adult coho will return, but this will be far short of last year and considerably short of the past 3 years.

We may have given an incorrect impression in the last report. We talked about SSRAA fish comprising almost all the harvest in D106 in the harvest last week. There are still good numbers of “wild fish” in the harvest through mid September. From this point forward we would expect most of the coho harvested in D106 to be SSRAA fish…and in some years this has been close to all the fish harvested in District 106 drift fisheries.

Generally we don’t speculate about a run being late since generally that is a rationalization for a run that is not very good…before it’s clear to everyone that the run isn’t very good. We note again that the summer coho coming back to Neck Creek had a pulse of fish that occurred later than usual for that stock. Likewise local sockeye returns were probably late this year…while the current fall chum return to Neets is on the historic time frame – not late. It’s possible there could be a late pulse of fish in the next several weeks, but it will not make up for the difference between this return and the returns of the three preceding years.

In summary, there are more fish harvested than the attached data indicates, but it’s probably not a large difference except for stat weeks 36 forward. These fish are late run fish and the current pattern of return does not agree with that long-time constant trait. There is a chance there will be a pulse of these fish through the next three weeks; if it happens and how large, that’s impossible to say at this point.

The fish weigh about 9 pounds in the terminal area and size is increasing.

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2015 Harvest of SSRAA Coho: 11 September 2015

This is the sixth coho update. We have been reluctant to update the fall coho return for several reasons, primarily because the numbers are not changing very quickly. The return pattern also doesn’t match with the historic information about these fish. Right now the return does not look very good. At the same time, we are seeing exactly what we would anticipate (coho harvest) during fall chum broodstock management in Neets Bay…exactly what we would anticipate for a run larger than the current information from the ADF&G tag lab would suggest. It’s hard to post an assessment of the return when the information in hand is confusing…and it is confusing.

There is one understandable reason for that. Fewer than the normal number of tags are being found in port sampling. This relates more to the total coho harvest than the percentage of tags in the harvest. Because there are fewer heads than usual, and resources available to the crews are less than usual, they are waiting to ship heads to the tag lab until enough heads are on hand to make the process efficient. More than the normal percentage of tags are unread at this time…at least it appears that this is the case. So, some of the harvest information is likely lagging at least two or three weeks; lagging from being complete.

There is something else. The SSRAA fall coho are a late-run fish. The return usually builds through the entire season until about the third week of September. At that point it remains strong in the terminal area until local processors no longer want to buy the fish. Currently the harvest was stronger 4 or 5 weeks ago than it is today. This does not happen with these fish. There was an estimated harvest of 9,000 coho this past week in the D106 drift fishery. These are generally almost all Neets Bay fish. This was a decent increase from the estimated harvest of 4,000 coho last week. Numbers are increasing, not decreasing, in one of the corridors the fish generally us to return to Neets Bay.

Generally we don’t speculate about a run being late since generally that is a rationalization for a run that is not very good…before it’s clear the run isn’t very good. We note that the summer coho coming back to Neck Creek had a pulse of fish that occurred later than usual for that stock. Likewise local sockeye returns were probably late this year…while the current fall chum return to Neets is on the historic time frame – not late.

In summary, there are more fish harvested than the attached data indicates, but it’s probably not a large difference except for stat weeks 35 and 36. These fish are late run fish and the current pattern of return does not agree with that long-time constant trait. There is a good chance there will be a pulse of these fish through the next three weeks; how large, that’s impossible to say at this point.

The fish are about 8 pounds in the terminal area and size is increasing.


2015 Harvest of SSRAA and POWHA Coho: 26 August 2015

This is the fifth coho update. For several reasons it is still early in the assessment of this return. First, the SSRAA fall coho are a late run fish. That being said, a number of sockeye and summer coho returns have been later than usual this summer which adds to early uncertainty. Secone, for some reason it is taking longer for coded wire tag information to be resolved through the tag lab. These people work hard with the resources in hand, so it is not for lack of effort. Whatever the reason, the tag information is not being as quickly read and resolved, and subsequently updating catch numbers is going slower. OK, so what can we say.

About 700,000 adult coho returned last year from SSRAA releases. It is likely this run will not be as large; but, looking at the information we have, this will be a decent return (look at graphics for some sense of run size). Run timing is going to be hard to assess, at least in real time. We can say the fish are not back to D 106 or Neets Bay in good numbers as yet. This is not expected in late August; it’s more likely to occur in mid-September. But, it has happened in mid-August. That will not be the case in 2015.

Fish size: it isn’t possible to comment on the size of SSRAA fall coho until we start seeing them in the terminal areas, primarily Neets Bay where we get a good chance to determine the average weight of the fish.

At this time the drift fleet has harvested almost as many SSRAA coho as the trollers, but this will quickly change toward troll as time passes. The summer coho run primarily goes to the drift fleet and that run is over.

We are also tracking the return of fish to the POWHA hatchery in Klawock. These fish are earlier than SSRAA’s and are now make up a good portion of current harvest in southern SE outside waters. While the greatest numbers of these fish are harvested by troll, a large number have been harvested recently by seiners in District 3 and 4 openings.

We have added the NSRAA coho return to the graphics with POWHA and SSRAA. These are the three large coho programs in SE. The purpose it to illustrate the total coho return, not so much to compare returns. For instance, SSRAA releases the most coho smolt so you would expect those returns to be larger. The dip in SSRAA and NSRAA returns likely relates to different stocks coming into play. The POWHA fish are earlier than the other two program’s fish. In addition, it appears the POWHA fish have survived well.

When viewing the graphics we need to emphasize that it is always the case that coho data does not resolve itself as quickly as thermal tags in SSRAA chum or coded wire tags in chinook. Because of the volume of tags recovered, coho tags take longer to process, read, and expand to represent harvest. There is some frustration as the numbers increase and then “settle” through two or three weeks – perhaps even longer in 2015 – after the harvest with continual changes in tag expansion estimates. Don’t take the numbers too seriously until we are three weeks beyond a statistical week. The numbers in the graphics will generally increase a good deal within a few weeks after the first harvest in a given stat week is shown.


2015 Harvest of SSRAA and POWHA Coho: 13 August 2015 This is the fourth coho update. It is still early to talk much about SSRAA’s fall coho as the peak of that return is through the month of September. At this time the return is falling pretty much in line, though a little less, with the past several years…but numbers do not mean a lot this early in the return. Most of the fall coho harvest to date has been by the troll fleet, while the drift fleet was the primary harvester of summer coho. At this time the drift fleet has harvested more SSRAA coho than the trollers, but this will quickly change as the harvest shifts to fall coho. The summer coho run is on its final legs. We are also tracking the return of fish to the POWHA hatchery in Klawock. These fish are earlier than SSRAA’s and are now make up a good portion of current harvest in southern SE outside waters. While the greatest numbers of these fish are harvested by troll, a large number have been harvested recently by seiners in District 3 and 4 openings. We have added the NSRAA coho return to the graphics with POWHA and SSRAA. These are the three large coho programs in SE. The purpose it to illustrate the total coho return, not so much to compare returns. For instance, SSRAA releases the most coho smolt so you would expect those returns to be larger. The dip in SSRAA and NSRAA returns likely relates to different stocks coming into play. The POWHA fish are earlier than the other two program’s fish. In addition, it appears the POWHA fish have survived well. When viewing the graphics we need to emphasize that it is always the case that coho data does not resolve itself as quickly as thermal tags in SSRAA chum or coded wire tags in chinook. Because of the volume of tags recovered, coho tags take longer to process, read, and expand to represent harvest. There is some frustration as the numbers increase and then “settle” through two or three weeks after the harvest with continual changes in tag expansion estimates. Don’t take the numbers too seriously until we are three weeks beyond a statistical week. The numbers in the graphics will generally increase a good deal within a few weeks after the first harvest in a given stat week is shown.

 


 

2015 Harvest of SSRAA and POWHA Coho: First Report, 5 August 2015 This is the third coho update. It is still very early to talk much about SSRAA’s fall coho as the peak of that return is more than a month away. At this time the return is falling pretty much in line with the past several years…but, at this time that’s not something to take to the bank. Most of the fall coho harvest to date has been by the troll fleet, while the drift fleet was the primary harvester of summer coho. The summer coho run is on its final legs. While the primary harvester of SSRAA fall coho is the troll fleet, as time passes these fish are harvested in the corridors the fish use to get back to their terminal areas, most of this is by the drift fleet. We are also tracking the return of fish to the POWHA hatchery in Klawock. These fish are earlier than SSRAA’s and are now found in good numbers in the troll fishery. Since they primarily return through “outside” waters, they are harvested almost exclusively by troll and local sport fisheries. We have added the NSRAA coho return to the graphics with POWHA and SSRAA. These are the three large coho programs in SE. The purpose it to illustrate the total coho return, not so much to compare returns. For instance, SSRAA releases the most coho smolt so you would expect those returns to be larger. We report independently on the Snow Pass summer coho on the web page. Those fish are included in some of the graphics under this heading. On the “harvest by gear type” graphics, these summer coho comprise almost all the drift harvest at this date. Fall fish enter the drift harvest in District 106 fisheries, but this takes place much later in the season, primarily in September. It is always the case that coho data does not resolve itself as quickly as thermal tags in SSRAA chum or coded wire tags in chinook. Because of the volume of tags recovered, coho tags take longer to process, read, and expand to represent harvest. There is some frustration as the numbers “settle” through two or three weeks after the harvest with continual changes in tag expansion estimates. Don’t take the numbers too seriously until we are two or three weeks beyond a statistical week, when the numbers settle. The numbers in the graphics will generally increase a good deal within a few weeks after the first harvest in a given stat week is shown.

 


 

2015 Harvest of SSRAA and POWHA Coho: First Report, 24 July 2015 This is the second coho update. It is very early to talk much about SSRAA’s fall coho as the peak of that return is more than a month away. Regardless, they are starting to show up. Most of the harvest to date has been by the troll fleet. As time passes harvest in the corridors the fish use to get back to their terminal areas will increase, most of this is by the drift fleet. We are also tracking the return of fish to the POWHA hatchery in Klawock. These fish are earlier than SSRAA’s and they are starting to show in troll harvest. Since they primarily return through “outside” waters, they are harvested almost exclusively by troll and local sport fisheries. We have added the NSRAA coho return to the graphics with POWHA and SSRAA. These are the three large coho programs in SE. The purpose it to illustrate the total coho return, not so much to compare returns. For instance, SSRAA releases the most coho smolt so you would expect those returns to be larger. We report independently on the Snow Pass summer coho on the web page. Those fish are also included in some of the graphics under this heading. On the “harvest by gear type” graphics, these summer coho comprise almost all the drift harvest at this date. Fall fish enter the drift harvest in District 106 fisheries, but this takes place much later in the season, primarily in September. It is always the case that coho data does not resolve itself as quickly as thermal tags in SSRAA chum or coded wire tags in chinook. Because of the volume of tags recovered, coho tags take longer to process, read, and expand to represent harvest. There is some frustration as the numbers “settle” through two or three weeks after the harvest with continual changes in tag expansion estimates. Don’t take the numbers too seriously until we are two or three weeks beyond a statistical week, when the numbers settle. The numbers in the graphics will generally increase a good deal within a few weeks after the first harvest in a given stat week is shown.

 


 

2015 Harvest of SSRAA and POWHA Coho: First Report, 17 July 2015 The Chickamin River stock of fall coho is used at most of SSRAA’s sites, Neets Bay, Nakat Inlet, Anita Bay, and Whitman Lake. The summer coho released in Whale Pass and at Burnett Inlet Hatchery are from Reflection Lake. The fall coho released at Crystal Lake Hatchery are from Crystal Creek. These stocks are considerably different from one another. The Chickamin fish are late run with the majority of the fish harvested in September – sometimes into October in the terminal areas. The fish are larger than average fall coho, often averaging well over 10 pounds in the terminal fisheries. The summer coho at Neck Lake and Burnett Inlet are early run fish, entering the fishery in mid June with some fish harvested into mid-August. The summer fish are smaller, averaging from 5 to 7.5 pounds. The Crystal Lake release is relatively small. The run is an earlier than the Chickamin fish and the fish are smaller. The SSRAA fall coho started showing up in the coded wire tag database in stat week 27 two weeks later than the previous two years. This is not a real difference as very few fish show up this early in the season, stat 25 or 27. The largest numbers of fish are released from Neets Bay (about 4.5 million smolt for the 2015 return). Because the release is so large, the Neets Bay fish tend to predominate in the annual return. This should change a little in 2015 as the first returns from larger releases (now 600,000 smolt each) at Nakat and Anita Bay occur. It is too early in the fishery to project the size of the return, but we can say it looks like there will be a substantial return…just not how substantial. We report independently on the Snow Pass summer coho on the web page. Those fish are also included in some of the graphics under this heading. On the “harvest by gear type” graphics, these summer coho comprise almost all the drift harvest at this date. Fall fish enter the drift harvest in District 106 fisheries, but this takes place much later in the season, primarily in September. We will also include the Prince of Whales Hatchery coho harvest data in the graphics, though not in this first reporting. Those fish are being caught now, approximately 12,000 through stat week 28. These are earlier fish than SSRAA’s fall coho and the return should quickly build through the next several weeks. It is always the case that coho data does not resolve itself as quickly as thermal tags in SSRAA chum or coded wire tags in chinook. Because of the volume of tags recovered, coho tags take longer to process, read, and expand to represent harvest. There is some frustration as the numbers “settle” through two or three weeks after the harvest with continual changes in tag expansion estimates. Don’t take the numbers too seriously until we are two or three weeks beyond a statistical week, when the numbers settle.