2018 Common Property Update

24 September 2018, SSRAA Fall Chum Common Property Update: 

Summer Chum:  The SSRAA summer chum run is over.  These fish have timed out.

Fall Chum:  Except for a straggler here and there at Tree Point, D106, or the troll fishery in Behm Canal, the fall chum return is over.  As with the summer chum, the 3-year-old segment of the run was much larger than usual, and in general is the largest part of the return.  This is very unusual.  Our forecast was not strong, and this proved to be what happened.  Again as with the summers, the forecasts for the total return were within the usual error.  But this is misleading. The run forecast is the sum of forecasts for each individual returning year class, and these forecasts were far off the mark.  Considering 3’s and 4’s, in essence there were two very large errors summing to a number that was close to what happened…or, simply we were very lucky.  This is illustrated in the attached graphic where the 2015 brood is the 3’s and the 2014 brood the 4’s.

Considering it is the smallest release, the return to Burnett will likely have the highest survival from release to adult.  All of the terminal Burnett fish will be required for brood and the egg take is ongoing.  We will not know the terminal return number until all the brood have been handled.  This is also the case at Neets Bay.

Eggs are being taken at Burnett Inlet and Neets Bay Hatchery.  Both of these terminal areas will be closed until the required eggs are in incubators – or until further egg taking isn’t possible.  Brood returns are smaller than usual. It is going to prove difficult to reach the total fall chum egg take goal.

10 September 2018, SSRAA Fall Chum Common Property Update:    

Summer Chum:  The SSRAA summer chum run is over.  These fish have timed out.

Fall Chum:  Fall chum are being harvested at Tree Point/Nakat, in D106, and in the chum troll fishery at Neets Bay. As was the case with summer chum, the 3-year-old segment of the run is much larger than usual.  This is even more unusual than it is for summer chum, as there are generally few 3-year-old fall chum. Our forecast is not strong, but if the 3’s experienced the same survival as the summers, the run will be stronger than forecast – and that looks to be the case.  Regardless, this will not be a large return, just larger than anticipated.

Because of the large number of 3’s, the fish may be around a little longer than usual.  They should be in the fisheries at Tree Point, D106, and chum troll at Neets Bay for another two weeks, plus or minus a few days.  They will be in Neets Bay likely through the end of the month, though most of these fish will probably be required for broodstock.

Eggs will be taken at Burnett Inlet and Neets Bay.  Both of these terminal areas will likely be closed until the required eggs are in incubators.  At this point the brood has not ripened, been ready for egg collection, at either site; but that should begin to happen shortly.

 

2018:  10 September, SSRAA Coho Returns

The harvest of Klawock Lake Coho is tapering off as expected at this date.  The harvest of the Chickamin River stock, Neets Bay and other traditional SSRAA releases, is increasing. The timing was normal for Klawock fish (Klawock Lake stock), while the traditional SSRAA fall fish reached the terminal area early. The SSRAA coho are large this year, averaging about 9.5 pounds in the terminal area.  The run should continue through the end of September.

These fish are harvested by trollers throughout SE Alaska.  For the past several weeks a number of Neets Bay fish have shown in the D106 drift fishery.  At present they are a large portion of that harvest.  They are also available in the Tree Point drift fishery and in both the Nakat and Anita Bay SHA’s. Harvest numbers may increase through the next two weeks.  It is clear that after the poor return in 2017, survival of SSRAA releases is moving in the right direction.

Something else is unique about this return…fewer than normal numbers of fish are being intercepted in distant fisheries before reaching Neets Bay where both the terminal chum/coho troll fishery and cost recovery have harvested coho since late August.

We anticipate the abundance of SSRAA coho near the terminal release sites in southern SE will increase through the next two weeks.

2018 SSRAA Fall Chum Returns, 21 August

Fall Chum:  The SSRAA fall chum are a late-run fish with the original brood taken from several streams in Cholmondeley Sound.  Historically they were released at Nakat and Neets Bay.  They were recently added to the Burnett Inlet release and this year all three brood years, 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s, are returning to Burnett.  The fish are generally first harvested in stat week 29 or 30.  They are most often harvested by the drift fleet at Tree Point and in Clarence Strait.  They are also caught by seiners in the corridors to Neets Bay and in the Neets Bay SHA when that has been opened in the fall.  Trollers catch the fish in the chum troll fishery in front of Neets Bay.

Fall chum returns were not strong the past two years.  The last large return of these fish was in 2015.  There were few SSRAA fall chum harvested in any fishery in 2017.

SSRAA fall chum are generally about 2 pounds lighter than SSRAA summer chum.  It is uncommon to see many 3-year-old fall chum.  The 2018 summer run was a genuine anomaly in that the 3’s predominated.  That is even more unlikely with the fall chum, though at the moment that is the case.  Our 2018 forecast (below) was for a minimal return, but if the 3’s perform like they did with the summer run…the run will not be what was forecast.  At the same time, there are far fewer fall chum released and the run will reflect the release size.  This is particularly true at Neets Bay where fewer than usual number of fall chum were released in 2016.

SSRAA Fall Chum Returns (Fish) Through Stat Week 33 (8/19/2018):

Site Current Harvest Run Forecast % of Forecast
Burnett 14,771 N/A N/A
Nakat Inlet    6,483 56,890 11.3%
Neets Bay    2,913 59,400   4,9%

2018:  19 August, SSRAA Coho Returns

Decent numbers of both Klawock Lake and Neets Bay coho have been harvested by SE trollers.  The timing is normal for Klawock fish (Klawock Lake stock), but a little early for the traditional SSRAA fall fish (Chickamin stock). Harvest of the Klawock fish will decrease through the next several weeks while harvest of the traditional SSRAA fall coho will increase through September.

A number of Neets Bay fish have already shown in the D106 drift fishery…again, this is early for these fish.  It is clear that SSRAA’s fall coho return is stronger than last year’s return.  It is still early to more specifically characterize this return considering 2017 may have been our all-time worst return.  This comparison does not mean the 2018 run is larger than usual; but, at the least, it is much closer to normal.

13 August 2018, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update: 

Summer Chum:  The SSRAA summer chum run is nearly over.  There are still some fish in several fisheries, primarily Neets, Kendrick and Anita Bay releases.  Of these, the Anita return is generally the latest set of fish.  All of the return groups are well into or at the bottom of the back shoulder of the run.  D106, D107, D108, Anita, and the Neets Bay troll fishery generally have the last decent numbers of SSRAA summer chum. At this point there are a dwindling number of these fish remaining in those fisheries.

Run timing:  best guess, the summer run is over at Nakat while there are still a handful of Kendrick 3-year-olds in some of the south-end fisheries.  The run is well past the peak at Neets, Anita, and Burnett.  Because of the predominance of 3-year-olds, the run will continue longer than usual, but from this point it will be scratchy at best.

2018 SSRAA Summer Chum Returns through Stat Week 31 (8/4/2018):

2018 Harvest 2018 Forecast % of Forecast Harvested
Nakat    130,461    260,300 50.2%
Kendrick    449,871    632,500 71.1%
Anita Bay    291,621    459,000 63.5%
Neets Bay (w/cost rec.)    795,864 1,354.630 58.8%
Total Summer Chum           1,667,817 2,706,430 61.6%
Burnett Inlet      70,663 N/A N/A

Note: Anita and Neets returns are generally at least a week to 10 days later than Nakat and Kendrick.

 

Fall Chum:  There are some fall chum in the harvest.  These are the front runners, we are not well into the run and won’t be for at least a week to 10 days, maybe longer.  Thermal tags have been recovered from all 3 releases:  Nakat, Burnett, and Neets Bay.  It looks as if the fall run will also be predominantly 3’s which is even more unusual for fall chum; there are few 3’s in a normal fall chum return.

2018 End of July SSRAA Chinook Accounting:

Though chinook numbers were still a little evasive, we summarized the chinook returns last week.  The numbers have come more into focus through the week and have been captured in the table below.  The information was taken directly from coded wire tag recoveries and the associated expansions.  The only exception in the table is that all fish used for broodstock and cost recovery (at Whitman Lake, Neets Bay, Port St. Nick, and Crystal Lake) were considered SSRAA fish.  The numbers will change, at least slightly, over time.  We will reproduce this table after the mid-August period of chinook retention.

4 August 2018, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update: 

Summer Chum:  While still ongoing, summer chum harvest (drift, seine, and troll) from all of the releases is less than we anticipated.  Some number of these fish will be harvested for another week to 10 days, longer for Anita Bay and Neets Bay releases.  As you can see in the table below, the Kendrick return is currently closest to what was forecast.  Early in the fishery we wouldn’t have come to that conclusion, but a decent number of Kendrick 3-year-olds are still being caught in several south-end fisheries.  The Anita and Neets Bay returns will grow in the next few weeks, perhaps both coming closer to forecast than Kendrick.

As we mentioned in the previous report…the 3’s are extremely predominant in this return.  In 2018 only a small fraction of the forecast 4’s are in the harvest.  Nakat is the only return that vaguely approximates the historic relationship between age groups; but Nakat is also going to be the furthest below forecast of any of the sites.  Whatever caused the excellent survival of the 2015 brood year didn’t happen for the Nakat fish…at least at the 3-year-old stage.

Run timing:  best guess, the summer run is almost over at Nakat while there are still Kendrick 3-year-olds in some of the south-end fisheries.  The run is peaking at Neets, Anita, and perhaps at Burnett.  Because of the predominance of 3-year-olds, the run will continue longer than usual with a stronger than usual back shoulder.

2018 SSRAA Summer Chum Returns through Stat Week 31 (8/4/2018):

2018 Harvest 2018 Forecast % of Forecast Harvested
Nakat    121,659    260,300 46.7%
Kendrick    416,780    632,500 65.9%
Anita Bay    223,978    459,000 48.8%
Neets Bay (w/cost rec.)    673,885 1,354.630 49.7%
Total Summer Chum           1,436,272 2,706,430 53.1%
Burnett Inlet      63,367 N/A N/A

Note: Anita and Neets returns are generally at least a week to 10 days later than Nakat and Kendrick.

Fall Chum:  There are now fall chum in the harvest.  These are just the front runners, we are not well into the run at this date and won’t be for at least several weeks.  Thermal tags have been recovered from all 3 releases:  Nakat, Burnett, and Neets Bay.  It looks as if the run will also be predominantly 3’s which is even more unusual for fall chum; there are few 3’s in a normal fall chum return.  This will have an impact on the 2018 return as, while there are 3’s returning to Nakat and Burnett,  because of a broodstock shortage in 2015 Neets has no 3’s coming back in 2018.  There have been about 6,500 of these fish in common property harvest to date, most from the Burnett release.

29 July 2018, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update: 

While still ongoing, summer chum harvest (drift, seine, and troll) from all of the releases has been less than we anticipated.  These fish will be harvested for several more weeks.  We are past the peak of the return at Nakat and Kendrick and are now coming into the peak return at Neets, Burnett, and Anita.  The fish are large, currently averaging today close to 10 pounds in all of these returns.

As we mentioned in the previous report…the 3’s are the predominant brood year in this return.  Historically, across a period of the past 21 years, SSRAA’s most accurate forecast has been is the 4’s within a year from the 3’s in the previous year.  In 2018 only a small fraction of the forecast 4’s are in the harvest.  In all of the returns but Nakat, the number of 3’s is larger than the 4’s and 5’s combined…quite a bit larger.  This has changed the nature of the 2018 returns in that they will likely peak later, consist of brighter fish for a later time, and there will be slightly more males than females…all characteristics of 3-year olds.  We have followed these returns since 1998 and cannot recall this being the case. At best 3’s make up about 35% of the return…more usually 15% to 20%.  This is the case of both a very good return of 3’s and a poor return of 4’s and 5’s.  And, these fish are larger than they have been for some time even though they are predominantly 3’s.

Run timing:  best guess, the run is on the back side of the peak at Nakat and Kendrick.  The run is entering the peak at Neets and perhaps Burnett.  The run is just now approaching the peak at Anita.  Because of the predominance of 3-year-olds, the run will continue longer than usual with a stronger than usual back shoulder.

Observations:  the fish are still averaging about 10 pounds in the current harvest – which at this point is larger than usual.  The run at Neets is still more than 50% male.  Three-year-olds are far and away the dominant year class everywhere but at Nakat.

2018 SSRAA Summer Chum Returns through Stat Week 29 (7/21/2018):

2018 Harvest 2018 Forecast % of Forecast Harvested
Nakat    111,058    260,300 42.7%
Kendrick    283,789    632,500 59.9%
Anita Bay    174,699    459,000 38.1%
Neets Bay (w/cost rec.)    611,722 1,354.630 45.2%
Total Summer Chum          1,181,268 2,706,430 43.6%

Note: Anita and Neets returns are generally at least a week to 10 days later than Nakat and Kendrick.

Many of you reading this may not know that the Department stopped sampling chum salmon catches some years ago.  SSRAA currently samples Ketchikan and Wrangell processors daily, seven days a week, and collects thermal tags (otoliths) as well as size and male/female ratio information.  SSRAA also processes the otoliths and reads the tags.  The information is provided to ADF&G managers in real time…within the week harvest occurs.

2018 End of July SSRAA Chinook Harvest Update:

SSRAA chinook release groups returning in 2018 include:  Neets Bay;  Whitman Lake (Herring Cove); Anita Bay;  Crystal Lake (Blind Slough);  City Creek;  Deer Mtn. Hatchery (Ketchikan Creek);  Carroll Inlet;  Port St. Nick; and, Coffman Cove.

Chinook returning from these releases were harvested in the winter troll fishery, spring troll fishery, and summer troll, drift and gill net fisheries.  SSRAA produced chinook were also caught in southern SE sport fisheries.  Because of significant treaty and conservation related constraints on all 2018 chinook harvest opportunity in SE Alaska, a greater than normal portion of the harvest took place in the Special Harvest Areas (SHA’s) primarily at Neets and Anita Bay, including cost recovery at Neets Bay and Whitman Lake.  Because of these constraints, in 2018 most of the chinook were caught by the net fleets.

There are still stragglers being taken in cost recovery at Neets Bay and sorted from broodstock at Whitman Lake and Crystal Lake.  We are also missing some sport harvest information. Though almost all the chinook have been harvested, the data is not easily coming together.  Today we can account for 29,740 chinook salmon.  This number will grow by at least several thousand fish, probably more, when all the information is in hand.

We will provide specific harvest information for all release groups distributed over gear types when all the information is available and has “settled”.

23 July 2018, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update: 

Summer chum harvest (drift, seine, and troll) from all of the releases has been less than we anticipated for this date; considerably less at Nakat where we have experienced the best survival of releases in recent years.  This has been slightly confused by the lack of opportunity in time on the south end where only some areas were open mid-week for the seine fleet and fishing was limited to two days at Tree Point.  Regardless, returns are less than anticipated – considerably at Nakat.  The male/female ratio is still generally predominantly male and the fish are still large, averaging close to 10 pounds in Neets Bay now.  These indicators suggest the return will continue for several weeks…though we are likely past the peak at Nakat and Kendrick and have not reached the peak at Neets, Burnett, and Anita Bay.

There is another factor that continues to confuse normal run tracking…with the exception of the Nakat return, the 3-year-olds are considerably stronger than we anticipated while the 4’s and 5’s are not nearly as strong as anticipated.  The 3’s are the predominant age class in the return to Anita, Neets, Kendrick, and Burnett.  We have followed these returns since 1998 and cannot recall this being the case. At best 3’s make up about 35% of the return…more usually 15% to 20%.  This is the case of both a decent return of 3’s and a poor return of 4’s and 5’s.

We have mentioned in the past that both 3’s and 5’s tend to be slightly more male than female, while the 4’s are slightly more female that male.  The run will likely reach its peak with a slight male predominance, which is also very unusual.  Of course all of this remains conjecture until we can look at things in retrospect.

Observations:  the fish are larger than usual at about 10 pounds now.  The run at Neets is about 55% male in cost recovery harvest.  Three-year-olds are the dominant year class everywhere but Nakat.

2018 SSRAA Summer Chum Returns through Stat Week 29 (7/21/2018):

2018 Harvest 2018 Forecast % of Forecast Harvested
Nakat      86,701    260,300 33.3%
Kendrick    283,789    632,500 44.8%
Anita Bay      63,480    459,000  13.8%
Neets Bay (w/cost rec.)    576504 1,354.630 42.6%
Total Summer Chum          1,010,474 3,006,430 33.6%

Note: Anita and Neets returns are generally at least a week to 10 days later than Nakat and Kendrick.

Many of you reading this may not know that the Department stopped sampling chum salmon catches some years ago.  SSRAA currently samples Ketchikan and Wrangell processors daily, seven days a week, and collects thermal tags (otoliths) as well as size and male/female ratio information.  SSRAA also processes the otoliths and reads the tags.  The information is provided to ADF&G managers in real time…within the week harvest occurs.

16 July 2018, SSRAA Chum Common Property Update: 

The more “outside” returns to Kendrick and Nakat should just be moving into the peak week of the return, and continue at some level into early August.  The more “inside” runs, Neets and Anita, should peak at about the 25th of July or a few days later and remain strong into early August.  There will also be both 3 and 4-year-olds coming back to Burnett Inlet this year, but we don’t have enough historic information to forecast this return.  Our intent is to use what returns to Burnett as broodstock.  Note, with the current extended period of high pressure (good weather), it looks as if the return is a few days late – which isn’t unusual.

Summer chum harvest (drift, seine, and troll) from all of the releases has been less than we would have anticipated at this date.  This has been slightly confused by the lack of opportunity in time on the south end where there was no mid-week opening for the seine fleet.  This had a greater impact on Kendrick, Neets, and Anita than on the Nakat fish.

While it certainly appears that the returns are less than anticipated, the male/female ratio is still predominantly male and the fish are still large, averaging close to 12 pounds in Neets Bay now.  These indicators suggest we are still early in the return.

There is another factor that may confuse normal run tracking…at this moment the 3-year-olds are stronger than we anticipated while the 4’s and 5’s are not as strong as anticipated.  We have mentioned in the past that both 3’s and 5’s tend to be slightly more male than female, while the 4’s are slightly more female that male.  If the 3’s prove to be strong, and that is not certain until more time has passed, the run will reach its peak with a slight male predominance.  Of course all of this is just conjecture until we can look at things in retrospect.

Observations:  the fish are generally slightly larger than usual at 11 to 12 pounds now, the 3’s may be stronger than usual (though uncertain), and males still predominate in the return.

2018 SSRAA Summer Chum Returns through Stat Week 28 (7/15/2018):

2018 Harvest 201 Forecast % of Forecast Harvested
Nakat      73,195    260,300 28.1%
Kendrick    101,339    632,500 16.0%
Anita Bay      28,868    459,000   6.3%
Neets Bay (w/cost rec.)    183,704 1,354.630 13.5%
Total Summer Chum    387,106 3,006,430 12.9%

Note: Anita and Neets returns are generally at least a week to 10 days later than Nakat and Kendrick.

Many of you reading this may not know that the Department stopped sampling chum salmon catches some years ago.  SSRAA currently samples Ketchikan and Wrangell processors daily, seven days a week, and collects thermal tags (otoliths) as well as size and male/female ratio information.  SSRAA also processes the otoliths and reads the tags.  The information is provided to ADF&G managers in real time…within the week harvest occurs.

SSRAA Harvest (Common Property and Cost Recovery) Update, 10 July 2018

It is too early in harvest for the normal detailed updates to be meaningful.  It is possible to make general comments about the ongoing fisheries.

Summer Chum:  Returns to all of SSRAA’s release sites are in the early stages.  As usual, summer chum will return to Nakat and Kendrick earlier than Neets, Burnett, and finally the Anita Bay.  They simply have further to go to get to the more “inside” sites.  As I write it appears the returns to Nakat and Neets are in the ballpark of what was anticipated.  The Kendrick return, on the other hand, is unusual in that at this point the 3’s are the predominant year class.  This doesn’t mean this group is strong: more likely the 4-year-olds – that usually predominate -are not returning in anticipate numbers.  It is too early to say anything about the returns to Anita Bay or Burnett except that some of these fish are already being caught.

Cost recovery at Neets Bay is slightly ahead of last year.  Both this year and last year the fishery only started in earnest on about this date.  Today less than 10% of the Neets cost recovery goal has been harvested.

Chum troll at Neets:  there is greater effort this year, at this date, than we have seen for several years.  The boat count yesterday was 58. Harvest, both per boat and total, has lagged recent years.  And, there is more disparity between the individual boat harvest numbers…a bigger range in daily per boat harvest.

There has been some confusion about what is open and what is closed for troll at Neets Bay.  The Bay (SHA) is now open from Bug Island outward to Chin Point – and into whatever area of the Behm that is currently open to troll.  This area (Bug to Chin Point) will likely remain open after 31 July as on August 1 the SHA shrinks from the Chin Point Line to the Bug Island line…the area outside Bug is not in the SSRAA SHA after 1 August every year.

Chinook:  we have not carefully tabulated chinook numbers and probably won’t do that until after the July chinook fishery is closed.  Anita, Whitman Lake, Neets Bay, and Crystal Lake releases all produced noticeable adult harvest this spring.  There are also some Deer Mountain fish in the harvest (Carroll Inlet and Ketchikan Creek), though only one year class was available at Carroll.  Because of time and area constraints on the troll fishery, most of this harvest took place in terminal areas as opposed to spring troll corridor fisheries.  Neets and Anita SHA’s were the primary producers for net fisheries while Mountain Point will probably prove the best producer for troll harvest of SSRAA fish.

 

Snow Pass Coho:  SSRAA summer coho, released at Neck Lake and Whitman Lake Hatchery, are starting to show in the D106 drift harvest and sport harvest in Whale Pass and the Mountain Point area.  About 2,000 coho were harvested in D106 during stat week 27. The survival of almost all coho (wild and enhanced) returning to southern SE in 2017, summer and fall fish, was poor to very poor.  At this point the summer coho return this year seems similar.  Historically these fish have not moved during extended periods of good weather (high pressure).  This is certainly the case at the moment.  We are hopeful that this will pick up, at least somewhat, with some weather.

Going Forward:  We will begin providing the more usual detailed updates next week.