Just when I thought salmon season was over as the last of the seine nets were being stowed and skiffs and holding barges were being trucked to the various
storage yards, I got a call from my son who said “Dad, let’s go fishing, the silvers are thick at the mouth of the Buskin River.” The lack of rain
has caused the silvers to pool up outside of the mouth of the Buskin River.
The red, chum, king and pink runs are finished for the year, but as sometimes happens the silver salmon run builds strength late into summer and early
fall. They are still bright silver and fun to catch, either on a gill net or especially on trolling gear. Unlike red salmon which average around 5.5
lbs and pinks which average 3.5 lbs, silvers average around 8 pounds and put up a strong fight.
Each geographic area around the State of Alaska has different salmon runs by specie. The timing also varies by area. One of the earliest runs, is the world
famous Copper River sockeye (red) and king fishery that starts in early May. Another world famous fishery is the Bristol Bay sockeye fishery, which
is the largest salmon run in the state. This year the Alaska Department of Fish and Game released a summary indicating that an estimated 58 million red
salmon returned to Bristol Bay. The 2015 return is the second largest year in the past twenty years and the third largest red salmon return of
all time. The actual harvest, or number of red salmon caught, was 37.6 million fish which makes this year the fourth largest harvest year since the
For Alaskan’s, salmon season is more than another fishery, it is a way of life. It establishes and often defines cultural identities in many rural areas.
It is one of the few fisheries that focuses specifically on family. Many young fishermen got their start at a very young age working at a
beach setnet site or on the back deck of a salmon seiner. The Salmon Project is a
wonderful site to learn more about salmon and the people who fish salmon. The 2nd Annual Salmon Life Social, organized by Kodiak community
volunteers, was held this past weekend and more than 300 people attended to celebrate the end of the long salmon season.
So now that the nets are cleaned, stacked and stowed for the winter in Kodiak, the next fishery that the commercial fishermen are targeting is Pacific
cod and Pollock. These are federal fisheries (salmon is managed by the State of Alaska). Pacific cod fishing usually continues into October, depending
on weather and the number of fishermen actually go out to fish. Pollock season runs through mid-October. Meanwhile, many longline fishermen
are finishing up the last of their halibut and black cod trips.
Once mid-September arrives, the weather patterns change rapidly and often. Temperatures are already dropping and the days are shorter. Fishermen
must pay even closer attention to the weather forecast to avoid the sweeping lows that come across from the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Bering
For Kodiak, this was a good salmon year. Red salmon came in strong, the pink salmon numbers were better than projected and now we are seeing a late run
of silvers that could go on for another month. This means we have more opportunities to catch those last silvers for the freezer or smoker before winter
really sets in. As you can see, our life revolves around fishing – salmon, cod, halibut. Check out our website and see what is new or being featured
this month. See you soon.
All the best