Hunting & Fishing

Stories related to subsistence/commercial/sport hunting, fishing, gathering activities.

Katie Basile / KYUK

As record high temperatures swept Alaska, many people said that the heat was killing them. For Kuskokwim salmon, it was actually true. Never before seen temperatures in the Kuskokwim River likely sent salmon into cardiac arrest.

Yukon summer chum salmon with a radiotag.

For many people living along the lower Yukon river, commercial fishing is their primary income. After the Yukon summer chum salmon arrived late and weak this year, the fishing season that just started is about to come to an end.

Warmer ocean and river water has increased the number of the parasites ichthyophonus and henneguya in Kuskokwim salmon  during the 2019 fishing season.
Avery Hoffman / ONC

Subsistence families along the Kuskokwim River are cutting open fish to find white balls or white streaks deforming the meat. The marks are formed from the parasites ichthyophonus and henneguya, also known as tapioca disease. Subsistence users are familiar with these parasites, but Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Aaron Tiernan says his office has never received as many reports of the diseases as they have this season. He attributes the extreme growth to warm water in the Bering Sea and Kuskokwim River.

Longer Subsistence Openings On Yukon

Jul 2, 2019

With more king salmon swimming up the Yukon River, managers are increasing the fishing opportunities. With kings still entering the Yukon, biologists now say that the run seems stronger than last summer's, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has scheduled more subsistence salmon fishing in District 3.

It felt like they took forever to get there, but the Yukon River’s summer chum salmon arrived in enough numbers for the processor in Emmonak to gear up for its first commercial opening of the summer. 

Yukon Chum Have Arrived

Jul 2, 2019

Good news for the Yukon River: a slug of chum salmon swam up the Yukon last week, and it looks as if there will be enough fish to meet the lower-end escapement goal of 500,000 fish. If enough chums keep swimming into the river, managers say that there may be a commercial harvest.

The Bethel fish bin is back. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has placed the green bin in its usual spot next to Corina’s Case Lot Groceries next to Brown’s Slough. 

Chum salmon

On the Kuksokwim River, king salmon are arriving in slightly higher numbers than previous years at this point in the season. Red salmon are coming in strong like they have in recent summers. Meanwhile, biologists are asking, "Where are the chum?" Chum salmon are arriving in much lower numbers than previous years in rivers across Western Alaska. KYUK asked the researcher who tracks these numbers on the Kuskokwim what’s going on.

A subsistence fisherman harvests a king salmon from the lower Kuskokwim River during a gillnet opening on June 12, 2018.
Katie Basile / KYUK

The entire Kuskokwim River is opening on Wednesday, June 26 at 4 p.m. to subsistence fishing. The opening will remain in effect until further notice, and is intended to give subsistence fishermen ample opportunity to harvest reds and chums.

Yukon Chum Numbers In Basement

Jun 25, 2019

Halfway through the season, a commercial summer chum salmon fishery on the Yukon River now appears unlikely. The summer chum return is both late and weak, and well below predicted. The Pilot Station sonar indicates that 65,177 chums have swum up the Yukon as of June 25. The median data for this date is 550,890 fish, which is a difference of almost a half million fish. Data indicates the return at this point in the season is lower than the very weak returns in 2000 and 2001.