The Yukon River fall chum and coho salmon runs are projecting to be the lowest on record (1974–2020), see Figures 1 and 2. The fall chum salmon run is projected to be 82,000 fish compared to a historical run size of 868,000 fish based on median timing. The coho salmon run size is projected to be 25,000-34,000 fish, based on median and late timing, compared to a historical average run index of 240,000 fish. The fall chum salmon run is past the third-quarter point, while coho salmon run is past the midpoint at the mainstem Yukon River sonar project operated near Pilot Station. According to the Fall Chum Salmon Management Plan, the inseason projection does not meet the threshold of 300,000 fish needed to allow subsistence, personal use or commercial fishing. A run of this size is unlikely to meet the drainagewide escapement goal of 300,000-600,000 fall chum salmon, tributary escapement goals and Canadian treaty objectives.
Christy Gleason, Acting Area Management Biologist
Bonnie Borba, Fall Season Research Biologist
Toll free fishing schedule and counts: (866) 479-7387
In Fairbanks fishing schedule hotline: 459-7387
Fall chum salmon typically take 39 days to migrate from the mouth of the Yukon River to the U.S./Canada border, using an estimated travel rate of 35 miles per day. The first group of fall season chum salmon entered the river on July 16 and is expected to be approaching the U.S./Canada border currently. The second group of fish are expected to approach Fort Yukon on August 27 and the U.S./Canada border around September 6. The third group of fish are expected to approach Tanana/Huslia on August 27 and the U.S./Canada border around September 15. A fourth group entered the river August 21 and are expected to be approaching Anvik by August 27, Galena on September 2, Tanana/Huslia on September 7, Nenana by September 14, Fort Yukon by September 17, and the U.S./Canada border around September 27. Monitored Yukon River and tributary water levels and water temperature are currently near average which should not adversely affect the migration of fall chum and coho salmon.
Coho salmon typically enter the Yukon River in mid-August with the bulk of the run occurring between August 13 and 25 in the Lower Yukon Test Fishery (LYTF). Coho salmon have been weak and/or late to enter the river so far this year. Currently, the run size is tracking to be extremely low, and are well below average at all assessment projects (Figure 2).
All projects that handle fish (LYTF; Mt. Village Drift Test Fishery; Pilot Station and Eagle sonars) are making efforts to reduce salmon mortality and distribute test fish catches to community members. Any salmon healthy enough will be released alive from the test nets. Injured salmon and mortalities will be distributed to community members by Tribal councils or on a first come first-served basis from a public dock.
Lower Yukon Test Fishery / ADF&G, Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association
Fall season operations began on July 16 using 6-inch mesh drift gillnets to target fall chum and coho salmon. As of August 24, the fall chum salmon cumulative catch per unit effort (CPUE) was 113.91 which is below the average of 1,367.13 for this date. The coho salmon cumulative CPUE was 10.14 which is below the average of
297.20 for this date. The third-quarter point of the coho salmon run, on average, occurs on August 25 at this project.
Mountain Village Drift Test Fishery / Asacarsarmiut Tribal Council
Fall season operations began on July 18, and as of August 24, the fall chum salmon cumulative CPUE was 345.29 which is below the average of 1,684.39 for that date. The coho salmon cumulative CPUE was 42.00 which is below the average of 598.91 for this date. The third-quarter point of the coho salmon run, on average, occurs on August 29 at this project.
Sonar Project near Pilot Station / ADF&G
The sonar project operated near Pilot Station transitioned to fall season counts on July 19. As of August 24, the cumulative passage estimate is 112,834 chum salmon. This is well below the median cumulative passage of 644,106 chum salmon for this date. The estimated fall chum salmon component of this count is approximately 67,000 fish after the application of genetic stock proportions. On average, the run is past the third-quarter point by this time of year. The cumulative passage estimate of coho salmon is 13,834 fish as of August 24, which compares to the median cumulative passage of 89,554 coho salmon for this date. The third-quarter point for coho salmon is typically on August 27 at this project.
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