2016 Chum Troll Fishery

18
Sep

The Last Dog is Dead: Neets Bay Chum Troll, 20 September 2016:
There are trollers working the Behm from Clover Pass out to Chin Point, but at this point they are all fishing coho. There are very few fall chum available outside the Neets Bay SHA and the troll fleet that is still present (8 boats this morning) are targeting coho returning to Neets Bay.
This will be the last chum troll report in 2016. We don’t yet have a precise total harvest of chum, but ballpark it was about 120,000 chums caught by troll in and adjacent to the Neets Bay SHA.
The fishery is still being tendered by a local processor.


Neets Bay Chum Troll, 12 September 2016:
Trolling for fall chum and coho in front of Neets Bay restarted about two weeks ago.
There are currently 9 boats (plus or minus a boat) working the fishery – several targeting coho more than chums. Per boat catch this past week has been similar to what was caught during the summer chum fishery…with the exception that coho are also being caught in the fishery. The chum average about 8 pounds at the moment with coho averaging 9 plus or minus. The general daily catch the past few days has been between 100 and 200 chum and up to 20 plus coho. Catch varies quite a bit between different boats. Total harvest for the several boats fishing during this period is about 7,500 chums.
The fishery is being tendered by a local processor who will stay until the fishery is over.
The inner SHA, area inside of Bug Island, is closed to common property fishing and likely will remain closed through the fall return. We are collecting fall chum broodstock and are well short of this year’s cost recovery revenue goal.


Neets Bay Chum Troll, 6 September 2016:
Trolling for fall chum and coho in front of Neets Bay restarted about 10 days ago.
There are currently 10 boats working the fishery. Per boat catch this past week has been similar to what was caught during the summer chum fishery…with the exception that coho are also being caught in the fishery. The chum are averaging about 8 pounds at the moment with coho averaging 9 plus or minus. We’ll provide more specific numbers next week.
The fishery is being tendered by a local processor who will stay until the fishery is over.
The inner SHA, area inside of Bug Island, is closed to common property fishing and likely will remain closed through the fall return. We are just beginning to collect fall chum broodstock and are well short of this year’s cost recovery revenue goal.


Neets Bay Chum Troll, 5 August 2016:


Chum trolling started before 1 July this year.
There was very little troll activity in and around Neets Bay this past week. For those several still fishing, Monday – Wednesday may have been the best harvest period this summer. There are still summer chum entering Neets Bay, but there was very little competition along Football Beach; little gear in the water and trollers could follow schools as opposed to following a the drag pattern mandated by a larger group. Fishing was not that good yesterday, Thursday 4 August, which is likely due to small pulses entering the bay and passing through the fishery…and the space between them.
The outer portion of Neets Bay, from Bug Island out to Chin Point, will be open to chum trolling and retention during the coho closure. While it’s likely this fishery won’t be “hot” at this date, it is an opportunity, there are some fish. There was one tender in the Bay today and another may be available during this period.
The inner SHA, the waters inside of Bug Island, is closed to common property fishing and likely will remain closed through the summer return. Though broodstock is well in hand, we have harvested only a little more than half the poundage required for revenue from cost recovery…well short of the target. It may turn out that the forecast for the number of summer chum returning to Neets Bay was accurate this year, but guessing the average weight of a summer chum was not. These fish usually average close to 10 pounds for the total run. The current daily average is slightly less than 7 pounds. This difference results in a large error in estimating the overall weight of cost recovery harvest, and in large part is the reason for the current short fall. It isn’t possible to accurately forecast the weight of the fish, so the long-term average weight is used.


Neets Bay Chum Troll, 25 July 2016:

Chum trolling started before 1 July this year.

Harvest has been consistently between 100 and 200 fish a day, except for a few boats that have done better.  To date about 100,000 chums have been harvested. There are only a handful of boats still in the fishery.  The general impression was that this season was not as good as 2015…this isn’t correct.  The price is 10 to 15 cents a pound better and the harvest per troller day has been better.  The other side of the coin, participation in 2016 was less despite a better price and more fish per troller day.

Specifically on this date:

In 2015 trollers had fished 914 boat days with a harvest of 120,000 fish. Average harvest through this period was 131 chums a day.

In 2016 trollers have fished 673 boat days with a harvest of 100,000 fish. Average harvest through this period was 149 chums a day.

There are still two processors tendering the fishery, but it is doubtful this will continue if the participation continues to drop.

We still anticipate the terminal run will continue for another 10 days to two weeks.  In the past some trollers have continued fishing, with some success, from this point through the fall run in September.  Catching is certainly less during the period between the runs…though we have seen fall fish as early as mid-August in the past.

We will update this report weekly.


Neets Bay Chum Troll, 17 July 2016:
Chum trolling started before 1 July this year.
Current catch is averaging about 160 fish a day, maybe a few more. To date about 60,000 chums have been harvested. Though the number of boats has been constant through the catch rate has increased through this period. There are two processors tendering the fishery. Tenders deliver to the plants every other day. Tender loads have consistently increased through this week.
We still anticipate a run much the size of what was experienced in 2015. While this was good return, the fish were not as “catchable” for trollers as we would have anticipated for that abundance. They seem more “catchable” this year and the price is better…subsequently, there is a little more effort than last year, but nothing close to the 150 to 200 boat counts of several years ago…closer to 35 or 40 boats fishing.
The weather continues to be moderate – which has historically been associated with good “catchability”… and then, there will be new theories after this season. The peak of the run for the troll fishery is probably the next two weeks.
We will update this report weekly.


Neets Bay Chum Troll, 9 July 2016:
Chum trolling started before 1 July this year. We estimate about 80 troller days through the 3rd with 15 or 16 trollers participating, some dropping in and out. The boat count was probably 8 to 10 a day. Harvest through that period was 79,159 pounds…maybe 1,000 pounds a troller/day. We began to daily track effort and harvest on the 5th. Participation has grown to a boat count of 33 this morning, 9 July. The average weight is about 10 pounds (9.97 on the last QC we have). Fish size will probably be slightly less this year than last year. The total harvest will be slightly more than 217,739 fish through the 8th – we are missing one small tender load. At 10 pounds, that is 21,739 fish for this period.
Current catch prior through the 8th varies between about 120 and 170 fish a day for most of the trollers. This is an estimate derived from talking to individuals and looking at the total harvest, it certainly differs from one boat to another. Trollers are currently confined to the outer SHA, Bug Island to Chin Point, and the three mile strip of the Behm that is open early in the season. The larger Behm troll area will open in a few days…please check ADF&G regulations for openings.
At this point in the season we anticipate a run much the size of what was experienced in 2015. While this was good return, the fish were not as “catchable” for trollers as we would have anticipated for that abundance. The conditions of “catchability” will vary with everyone you ask, but generally moderate weather means the fish are not in a hurry and are more vulnerable to troll. The weather is moderate right now…and then, there will be new theories after this season. The peak of the run is about 10 days to two weeks away and there can be a good abundance available to trollers into August.
We will update this report weekly.


Neets Bay Chum Troll, 4 July 2016:
The chum troll season started early in 2016 with 15 or 16 boats participating off and on through the past week or 10 days. As noted elsewhere, the chum have appeared earlier than usual this year. Likewise the SSRAA Board left the outer portion of the SHA open to only trollers for most of the spring. This has been a better opportunity which some trollers have accessed.
To date there only one processor is tendering the fishery, but several others will likely join soon. About 106,000 pounds (10,000 fish) have been harvested through yesterday, 3 July. The current rate of catching is a little more than 1,000 pounds a boat/day.
As is always the case with chum trolling, the 2016 return looks strong, but the real question is whether the fish will be catchable. Whatever the case going forward, the Neets Bay chum troll fishery has had an early, relatively successful, start in 2016.
We will track daily harvest and participation and report weekly on this page.