2021 Yukon River Summer Season Summary

The following is a summary of the 2021 Yukon River Chinook and summer chum salmon fisheries. All data reported here are considered preliminary. For management purposes, the Yukon River is divided into several fishing districts and subdistricts (Figure 1).

Last edited 10/29/2021
Contact Information

Deena Jallen, Area Management Biologist

(907) 459-7309

Toll free fishing schedule and counts: (866) 479-7387

In Fairbanks fishing schedule hotline: 459-7387

In 2020, the Emmonak office was not opened due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, staff returned to Emmonak, and operations of the Lower Yukon Test Fishery (LYTF) were conducted by ADF&G technicians and Yukon Delta Fishery Development Association (YDFDA) crew. Operations were altered this year to reduce Chinook salmon mortalities and the Middle Mouth cabin was not opened this year to reduce possible COVID-19 exposures amongst the crew. Management and research staff travelled to Emmonak from the Anchorage and Fairbanks offices and followed local travel and health mandates.

The “summer season” refers to management of Chinook and summer chum salmon runs (early May through July 15 in District 1). After July 15, Chinook salmon are nearly done entering the river and fall chum start to replace summer chum as the dominant species. On July 16, management transitions to the “fall season” and assessment and management become focused on fall chum and coho salmon entering the mouth of the Yukon River. However, summer season management continued beyond this date in upper river districts as Chinook and summer chum salmon migration progressed upstream. Data presented in this summary applies to “summer season” species only. While summer season assessment and escapement projects have wrapped up by the date of this announcement, subsistence harvest estimation is only now beginning; final total run sizes cannot be estimated until harvest estimates are complete.

The summer season management team consisted of Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) area management and research biologists, subsistence resource specialists, and the Federal subsistence fishery management staff from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The team met preseason to form the management strategy based on public input. Inseason, they met daily to consider and discuss daily updates of the summer chum and Chinook salmon assessment and escapement data, and plan management actions accordingly.

To more effectively reach fishermen, daily test fish counts and news releases were posted on a Facebook page called “Yukon River Fishing-ADFG”. A toll-free fishery hotline was updated regularly and magnets with the hotline number were widely distributed. Updates were also provided via Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association (YRDFA) weekly public teleconferences, the ADF&G News Release and assessment data list-serves, radio broadcasts, and the ADF&G web page.

2021 Preseason Outlook

Chinook salmon

The 2021 drainage-wide outlook was for a run size of 102,000 to 189,000 fish. This outlook was smaller than the 2020 outlook, and potentially as small as the runs from 2012 and 2013. Despite very restricted fishing in those years, the Canadian Chinook salmon escapement objective was not met. Because of the poor projected run size, a cautious management approach was taken and the season began with salmon fishing closed.

Summer chum salmon

It was expected that the 2021 summer chum salmon run would be below average. The 2021 preseason outlook was for approximately 1.2 million summer chum salmon. A run of this size was anticipated to provide for escapements, an average subsistence harvest, and a surplus for commercial harvest. Based on the preseason outlook, it was expected that a commercially harvestable surplus of up to 0.5 million summer chum salmon would be available.

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