The Yukon River king salmon run appears to be coming in much weaker than forecast. State management biologist Holly Carroll says that both the king and summer chum runs are running late, and king numbers are very low.
“It’s looking weak enough that there may not be any harvestable surplus for any king harvest this year on the Yukon,” Carroll said.
Carroll says that all kings caught incidentally during fishing openings for chum will have to be returned to the river alive. She says that the severe harvest restriction reflects very poor numbers being recorded by the state’s Pilot Station sonar counter at the river’s mouth.
“Our counts at Pilot are half of what they should be,” Carroll said. “We are seeing a run size that are so weak that we might not meet escapement goals. We might be seeing a run size much like we saw in 2012 or 2013 when we didn’t meet goals.”
Carroll says that the future of the Yukon River king run is at stake, and that hopefully the summer and fall chum runs will be strong enough to meet subsistence needs.