2018 Snow Pass/Klawock Coho Update

2018 Final Update:  8 October, SSRAA Coho Returns

Though there are still a few coho returning (for broodstock) at Whitman Lake and Neets Bay, the 2018 common property coho season is over.  Coho coded wire tag expansions will continue to be adjusted for at least another month, but current numbers will be close to the final numbers.

The attached graphics are current.

One important generalization we can make: the 2018 return of southern SE coho, including SSRAA fish, improved over what occurred in 2017.  The marine situation (predators, food, water temperature, etc.) faced by the fish returning in 2018 was more positive than what the 2017 fish faced.   Better ocean conditions were reflected in both the size of the return and the size of individual fish.  At the same time, it is important to put things in context, the 2018 return was a “normal” return – it was not exceptional.

The troll fleet caught the largest part of the total return.  Looking at historical data, trollers caught more of the return than was the case before the Klawock Hatchery became a SSRAA program.

2018:  30 September, SSRAA Coho Returns

The 2018 common property coho season is over.  Except for some clean up harvest during broodstock collection at Neets Bay (coho mixed with fall chum) and Whitman Lake (excess fish from raceways), the 2018 SSRAA coho return is now history.

The attached graphics are current, but noting some harvest information from the tag lab is not complete and total returns cannot be assessed until the last terminal fish are counted – it may be several weeks before we can account for the total return.

One important generalization we can make now is that the 2108 coho return of southern SE coho, including SSRAA fish, improved over what we saw in 2017.  Speaking of SSRAA fish, 2017 was one of the poorest coho survival rates we have ever experienced.  The marine situation between the 2017 and 2018 returns became more positive for the fish.  Hopefully that will continue.

2018:  24 September, SSRAA Coho Returns

Very few Klawock Lake Coho are still in the harvest.  What’s left of the return is in or near the river; a good number of these fish has been harvested for cost recovery at the hatchery and the appropriate number have been passed through the weir into the lake.

The harvest of the Chickamin River stock, released at Neets Bay and other traditional SSRAA sites, is winding down with the late portion of the return in or near terminal areas. The Chickamin coho are large this year, averaging about 10 pounds in the terminal areas.  The run/harvest in or near the terminal areas of Anita Bay, Whitman Lake (Herring Cove), and Neets Bay should continue through the end of September, while there are few Nakat Inlet fish left to be harvested.

While there is still some troll harvest, for the past several weeks a good numbers of Neets Bay/Whitman Lake/Anita Bay fish have been taken in drift fisheries: D106, Tree Point/Nakat, and D108/Anita Bay. These fish are a large portion of the current harvest in those fisheries.  After the poor return in 2017, survival of SSRAA coho releases is moving in the right direction.

We anticipate the SSRAA fish will in the near terminal and terminal areas (SHA’s) through the end of September – and perhaps into early October should harvest opportunity be available.

2018:  17 September, SSRAA Coho Returns

Few Klawock Lake Coho are still in the harvest.  A large portion of the return is in or near the river; some have been harvested for cost recovery at the hatchery and a good number have been passed through the weir into the lake.

The harvest of the Chickamin River stock, at Neets Bay and other traditional SSRAA releases, is at its peak in or near terminal areas. The SSRAA coho are large this year, averaging about 9.5 pounds in the terminal area.  The run/harvest in or near the terminal areas of Nakat Inlet, Anita Bay, Whitman Lake (Herring Cove), and Neets Bay should continue through the end of September.

While these fish are still being harvested by trollers, for the past several weeks a number of Neets Bay fish have also shown in drift fisheries: D106, Tree Point/Nakat, and D108/Anita Bay. They are a large portion of the harvest in those fisheries.  It is clear that after the poor return in 2017, survival of SSRAA coho releases is moving in the right direction.

We anticipate the SSRAA fish remaining abundant in the near terminal and terminal release sites through the end of September – and perhaps into early October should harvest opportunity be available.

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.

2018:  13 August, SSRAA Coho Returns

Because of the lag between harvest and coded wire tag processing and tag expansions, it is still too early to assess the current coho season…except that the return of SSRAA’s stock of fall coho is stronger than last year.  Considering 2017 may have been our all-time worst coho survival, this does not mean the run is exceptionally large; at the least, it is much closer to normal.  Things are going in the right direction.  In another couple of weeks we will know how far they have gone in that direction.

Klawock coho are showing in harvest when and where you would expect them.  The numbers may be a little down from last year; but, as with the SSRAA falls, it is too early to draw a meaningful conclusion.  These fish are found in the southern outside troll quadrant in decent numbers.  They are also harvested in D103 and D104 seine.

We will miss a week’s data/harvest because of the coho closure; if all is well harvest should build quickly after the 15th.

2018:  6 August, SSRAA Coho Returns

Stocks:  SSRAA releases a number of different coho groups including: summer (Snow Pass) coho at both Neck Lake (Whale Pass) and Whitman Lake Hatchery; Klawock River Coho at Klawock Lake and the Klawock River estuary; Crystal Creek Coho from Crystal Lake Hatchery; and, SSRAA fall (Chickamin Stock) coho from Nakat, Anita, Whitman Lake Hatchery, and Neets Bay.  The releases vary in size from the largest at Klawock and Neets Bay to relatively small broodstock releases at Whitman Lake. These coho stocks are different .

It is still too early in the season for the attached graphics to have much meaning, the numbers are growing quickly.  It looks as if the return is better than what we experienced in 2017…which was dismal.  Things have gone in the right direction.  Klawock coho are starting to show in harvest when and where you would expect them; likewise for the larger releases of SSRAA fall coho.

The coho closure will happen shortly, and if all is well harvest should build quickly after the closure.

As is always the case with coho coded wire tag recovery/processing; generally the most recent week is dramatically underrepresented in the data.

We will update this information weekly as the information is available.


16 July 2018:  Snow Pass (summer) Coho Update:

After the poor return of these fish last summer we were only guardedly optimistic about the 2018 run; and, it has started slowly (6,700 coho harvested through stat 28).  The coho/boat harvest in D106 (70 fish/boat) is only about half of what it was at this date last year.  In addition, effort in D106 is also only about half of what it was last year.  D106 is a large area where the drift fishery can target sockeye, chums returning to Burnett Inlet and Neets Bay, and/or “Snow Pass” coho returning to Whale Pass.  And, effort is likely down because opportunity (time D106 is open) is down. Individual boats fish differently related to which of these returns they are targeting.  With so little participation, coho catch/boat, is not as meaningful without knowing how many boats are targeting these fish.  Whatever the case, the return generally lasts until mid-August and related to a recent extended period of high pressure, the return is probably later than usual.

We just completed our first cost recovery harvest from the raceway on Neck Creek – about 2,100 fish were removed.

Anecdotal information:  sport fishing in Whale Pass is good with a lot of participants.