Greetings from the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association!
Here is a summary of the 1st 2021 Yukon River Salmon In-Season Management Teleconference held Tuesday, June 1st, 2020. Call lasted 81 minutes. 46 callers participated.
Background: Yukon River salmon management teleconferences are held annually every Tuesday in June, July, and August for managers and fishers throughout the Yukon River drainage to discuss fishing conditions and management strategies in real time as the salmon run is occurring. Funded by the Office of Subsistence Management and the Yukon River Panel.
Media present: None
Political Representatives participating: None
Communities participating: 12
Community level reports:
Coastal District 1-Lower Yukon
Hooper Bay: Lester Wilde- We haven’t started fishing. The ice just went out.
Alakanuk: Allen Hanson- The river is dropping. We had anticipated a lot of water and ice from way up river, but nothing major had happened here. I spoke with some fishermen here. As far as I know there are a couple of subsistence fishermen that have caught a couple of fish, and 1 chum. This morning there has been nothing caught. Due to the pandemic, the fishing gear that they need are dip nets because they know we are going to be restricted. I believe we have a subsistence closure starting tomorrow. As soon as we are done here, I am going to jump in the boat and see if I can get myself a salmon to cook tonight.
District 2-Coastal/Lower Yukon
Mt. Village: Nita Stevens – There has hardly been anyone fishing. She hasn’t heard of any kings or chums being caught yet.
Marshall: Norma Evan – Compared to last year, the water level is a few inches lower. Our ice left on the 14th. The set net was at Wilson Slough. I have not heard of anyone gillnet drifting yet. Less mosquitos, the water is lower than last fall, and I am not seeing logs passing. We did have a spring beach clean up before the ice went out and we did gather a lot of plastic and other things on the beach.
District 3-Coastal/Lower Yukon
Russian Mission: Basil Larsen- There has been very little fishing, other than the couple of guys that have a 4” net that are fishing for whitefish for dogs. There has been very little to no fishing on the main river. There are a lot of sticks on the beach, so once the water comes up those will float. We’ve had a couple of bears in the dump. Everyone is still eating birds, beaver, etc. There have been no logs, just twigs and things that caught up in your motor and notes.
District 4a-Upper Yukon
Districts 4b & c-Upper Yukon
Galena: Fred Huntington – The water levels are a little high, there is some drift, but not much. It has been so cold, there hasn’t been too much run off. I read that there was “x” caught in the bycatch already.
Districts 5a, b, c & d
Tanana: Stan Zuray – There are some people catching whitefish for their dogs and a little for people food. Not much happening as far as big logs coming down the river. The only thing that I hear is there are a lot of people asking what fishing is going to be like, restrictions, and who is going to fish camp this year. 2 of the 3 fish wheels that ran at Rapids last year are not going to run this year.
Ft. Yukon: Kara’lisa Trembly – No one is fishing there yet since the fish are not there yet.
Districts 6a, b & c
Nenana: Victor Lord & Tim McManus- Water is pretty low. There is some fishing at the wheel. People are catching burbot on sunken lines. Another comment about Fred and Stan’s comments: on that bycatch, that’s a pretty high number. And what Stan is saying about people not going to fish camp, I’ve seen that here in Nenana. The restrictions and commercial fishing reduces the number of people going to fish camp, and then they don’t come back. It is killing our culture, and we need to get to the bottom of this.
Fairbanks: Virgil Umpenhour – The only fishing I know of is a few grayling, most of that is catch and release. My grandson is spearing suckers. Otherwise that’s the only fishing going on. Water is still pretty low.
Teslin: Carl Sidney – Water rising, that bycatch of 18,000 is terrible. That’s 2 seasons in Canada. Something has to be done about that.
Whitehorse: Elizabeth MacDonald – I haven’t heard of anyone fishing. It feels like spring has come. Leaves are downtown, and today feels like the first day of summer. I was in Old Crow 3 weeks ago, and the weather hadn’t been out, but it is out now. Dawson felt like summer last week too. People are looking forward to summer. People were bear hunting last weekend.
Management Reports Agenda:
Holly Carroll – USFWS – Fred West and Deena Jallen with ADF&G have arrived in Emmonak, but there has already been test fishing going on out there. That started on May 27th. They were doing both morning and evening drifts for chum and Chinook. No salmon had been caught other than what had been reported on the call. Typically we have the king set net out, but we don’t have that out yet. We hope to have that out by the 3rd.
Tomorrow will be the first full day of counts. The Andreafski weir will run this year and crews will arrive June 8th to get that running.
I want to remind everyone that because the run is projected to be poor, we need to reduce any mortalities in our test fisheries. Because of that we don’t plan to run our middle mouth set net. At the other sites, we do try to release every King alive. If they are not, they are donated to local Elders nearby. We are going to do a baseline sampling for ICH, but we will only do that for fish that are caught during open periods. It will be a small sample, but it will get us going on that. We won’t be killing any additional fish to get that data.
To move into management actions – we issued a joint release on May 28th announcing a closure on June 2nd. As a reminder, normally you can use other gears to catch other species, but you cannot keep any salmon during those closures. You can use 4” gear, up to 60’. All other areas are on their full schedule, because the salmon technically aren’t there yet.
Our outlook for Chinook is very small, which is what is causing these closures. We don’t know if there is any harvestable surplus. The whole front end of the run is closed until the midpoint, which is typically June 24th. At that time we will have a good indication of harvestable surplus, and may be able to offer some Chinook fishing.
The best way to know what closures are is to call the 800 number and to look at Yukon River Fishing on Facebook. CALL IS BEST.
Lisa Stuby – as of May 10th sport fishing has been closed completely throughout the Yukon River.
Contact info for ADFG YR Summer Season Manager; call 907/267-2324
(Jeff Estensen with ADFG will give a fall report as the fall season will begin on July 15 /16 in the Y-1 lower river district)
Hotline – also on Facebook. 1-866-479-7387 / 459-7387 (Fairbanks)
Jesse Trerice- Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans Canada-
Given the forecast, the Panel recommendation – Canada could have very low to zero harvest share. Any Chinook accidentally caught in the chum fishery will be released. Key priority ensure sufficient numbers of Chinook reach their spawning grounds to sustain their populations.
Oliver Barker – We are some time away from salmon into Canada. We are preparing for our projects and assessing the runs. Not a lot of water level and conditions to report yet. The breakup of major rivers is complete. Water levels are about average, a bit of a surprise since we’ve had record snow falls, but the cool weather through May makes the snow melt slowly. Air temperatures have been about average for this time of year.
Questions and discussion:
Tim – I have some fisherman (8) that would like 4” mesh if possible.
Holly – In the past the fish commission if they have extra funds, they have helped people get gear that they need.
Stephanie – The fish commission does not have funds to purchase nets for folks. I know at our meeting PJ Simon heard and was taking notes that there was a need. I have not done any follow up on that. The net exchange that happened a couple of years ago – that was disaster relief money and it is no longer available.
Victor – As the fish come up, people can fish with 7.5” net until they get the call? And then people that are fishing for the tricklers are going to get an earlier cut off?
Holly – we are closing all fishing on the trickle and the first pulse. Right now if you are not in the lower river, you can fish. But once these Kings get into your area, you will be closed. 4” gear is considered non-salmon gear. We are warning people that there are a lot of people using 4” gear to target salmon, we will have to regulate that as well.
Norma – We were expecting CARES act funds at the tribal office here in Marshall. It is up to the community on how to spend that money. Ask the person that is helping with funding. The year that Fish and Game came out before the fishing happened, that year they closed subsistence fishing and commercial fishing in Bethel. I think those areas that the fish pass before us, in the ocean, should be closed as well. What if the fish are in front of Quinhagak right now, are they fishing?
Holly – I heard the management coordinator say that the Kuskokwim fishing will close on June 1. Fall might be a different case, but I do think that is the plan, although I don’t have any specifics in front of me. Toll Free Fishing number 1-866-479-4387
Allen Hanson – My understanding is Y1 and Coastal will close June 2 @ 8pm, but we can use 4” and dip net.
Holly – yes, but a max of 60’. Dip nets are legal, but only for non-salmon. If you catch salmon in your 4” net, you can keep it.
Allen – and what Fred said about the bycatch, we should get some dates about when they were caught and maybe we can act and close the deep sea fishery so these salmon can make it to the river.
Holly – that bycatch we can get those numbers, but that is all stocks, it isn’t all Yukon fish. Because of our poor returns, their fishery is still open, but their bycatch numbers have been lowered. There is a process for public comment during the North Pacific Fishery Council. I encourage you to go online and sign up for their information.
Victor – It literally takes an act of congress to make a change out there.
Sebastian – the update that was sent out a couple of days ago says we will close the first pulse, but you just said through the midpoint. Those are two different things.
Holly – our plan is closed through mid-point, but we have only taken action on the first pulse. That gives us flexibility in management throughout the run.
Virgil – People talking about bycatch – 4 years ago, area M June fishery bycatch 44,000 king salmon in 18 days. People are going after the wrong culprit. We need to be taking this up with the politicians. We need genetic stock composition of the area M June fishery. The other thing is the competition for the hatchery fish being dumped into the ocean every year. Until we do those things, our King Salmon population will not improve very much.
Kara’lisa Tremblay – My question is that a lot of people are saying that we won’t be able to fish up here, and that it will be closed.
Stephanie – I just wanted to make sure that everyone had the right information. The current bycatch for the Bering Sea and it is 9,473 to date.
Victor – that is still a lot more than what we’ve got. I just wanted to say a little thought and prayer – I didn’t realize how much I missed Andrew Firmin until this first teleconference. I just wanted to say a thought and prayer to his family.
Norma – I wanted to refer to your traditional knowledge – late july last year the grass was taller than I was. The elders said that was an indication of a lot of snow, and we did have a lot of snow last year.
Holly – I just wanted to remind folks that the Emmonak office is going to be open Monday – Friday and on Saturday. People can call them to talk to them about what is going on. You can also call myself, Keith Ivy, and Gerald Mashamn. Today I had a fisherman from District 5, and he talked about some traditional knowledge. He said that when you see a yellow butterfly, the first fish has been caught at the mouth, and I was able to tell him that we had caught a fish down there.
Wrapped up @ 2:21pm.