PO Box 2898 Palmer, AK 99645
Tel: 907-272-3141 Toll free: 877-999-8566
Fax: 907-272-3142 E-mail: email@example.com
Greetings from the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association!
Here is a summary of the 4th 2021 Yukon River Salmon In-Season Management Teleconference held Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021. Call lasted 140 minutes. 83 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: 24
COMMUNITY LEVEL REPORTS
Coastal District 1-Lower Yukon
Scammon Bay: Clifford Kaganak- weather has warmed up, that’s a good feeling. Hoping that with the weather, we can see some fish coming up your way. People have been setting nets for whitefish and using herring nets for halibut bait. My friend was on the coast on Friday and had set a herring net for halibut fishing and he and his friends saw fish jumping and they noticed a King jumping. There were also chum jumping. He said they jumped for maybe 5 minutes. There were also sights of Beluga whales, and also yesterday June 21 we got a report from Hooper and they saw salmon jumping out of the water approximately 5-7 miles out of the river. Here in Scammon we haven’t seen or heard of anyone else catching salmon.
Nunam Iqua: Joe Afcan- There haven’t been too many fish caught in the river. We took a boat ride out toward the Black River on Fathers Day. The tide was coming in and we saw salmon at the mouth of the Black River. I couldn’t say how many there were, but they were for sure salmon. Those that were able to get salmon were happy for it, no matter how few it was.
Kotlik: Marvin Okitkun- Community members here are going up north to Point Romanoff where it is open 24/7. Some days they catch one or 2 kings. Other days they catch 7 or 8. With a handful of chums. My oldest boy got one king, my cousin got one king and one chum. Other than that, I know of no other nets. We had a 5 foot tide with no debris. That usually indicates salmon are coming in. And the winds shifted to the south. Also have a report form Boy Duncan who lives in St. Marys. He came down last Friday and they had seen fish all the way from fish village to middle mouth, ADFG camp and all the way to Kotlik. One of my cousins saw fish all the way from ADFG camp to Kotlik. The test fish numbers from ADFG during that timeline, they didn’t catch much. I am questioning what ADFG is doing in the middle mouth with their test fishery. I am willing to help them with a spot to fish where they could actually catch something.
Alakanuk: Allen Hansen- There is not very much subsistence activity due to restrictions. Not many people have nets. Spoke to some people going Halibut fishing a few days ago – 20-30 miles west of Flat Island. Got some cod. Someone from Nunam Iqua caught a crab. My cousin set a crab pot out from Flat Island. He has not checked them yet due to the weather. Cape Romanoff, some people went out to check and they are not back yet. This morning I was working on my neighbor’s outboard motor and a local stopped by with salmon for Elders. I need to wait 5 more years. He had a few fish from ADFG in Emmonak. The Elders are grateful. People are pretty discouraged but they understand that they have to get the fish to the border. I know there are salmon swimming by. Tides have been fluctuating. Hoping that as they pass by Fish and Game can allow us some subsistence fishing.
Emmonak: Billy Charlies – Allen did a good job. Similar here. Water is higher than normal. There is a really good indicator that fish might be coming in. I went to a fish camp at the middle mouth side. There were 4, one was occupied with no fish. The other 2 were unoccupied. We are keeping our fingers crossed that there might be fish in the water.
District 2-Coastal/Lower Yukon
Mt. Village: Nita Stevens- 9 fisherman – no one is fishing. There is drift in the river and it is dropping slowly.
St. Mary’s: Erik Weingarth- No real fishing going on in this area. No one is even using 4” mesh. It’s been hot. 70-80 degrees. Ran up to Andrefski the other day and didn’t see any fish. I had some fisherman call me concerned about an Elder getting fish impounded. I am not sure what happened, but they were not caught on the Yukon. Concerned about food for the winter. Food security is becoming a real concern. Impounding fish from a drying rack seems pretty extreme.
Marshall: Norma Evan- I spoke to 13 households. There has been no fishing in Y2. I have not heard of anyone setting netting. This week has been good weather. A few days in the 70s. The willow trees are still shedding. The ladies and the families were anticipating and wondering if there was going to be berry picking and fish cutting at the same time.
District 3-Coastal/Lower Yukon
Russian Mission: Basil Larsen- Water is coming up slowly. A lot of drift about a foot above the water line. I went to Mountain this week. There was 1 fish camp with people in it, no fish, it looked like they were rebuilding the cabin. But that was the first time I’ve been that far and have seen nothering. When I came back up this way there were about 4 people in the water fishing for fish for their dogs. Just getting a few each day. No one has 4” nets here. The tribal council is trying to buy everyone 4” nets for food security. There was one family that moved to Ekwok on the Nushakak River so they could get fish for the winter. Everyone is concerned about the low numbers, but we’d all like to taste good food.
District 4a-Upper Yukon
Anvik: Ken Chase- The water here on the river is stable. The subsistence needs are hard to tell. I haven’t talked to many people but there is no fishing going on. I don’t think any subsistence resources are being used right now. Once a year I tell people on the call that I work for Fish and Game? In their resource department. I travel up and down the river and contact people about what is going on in their area.
Huslia: Zoe – Covering for Lisa, interviewed 4 households, 3 reported no fishing due to closure, and because they had no 4 “ net. Caught some fish (?) Water still high, and people waiting to do more fishing.
Hughes: Janet Bifelt – same as Huslia. People don’t have the right gear. People did fish before for pike and white fish. Nothing going on now. We are hoping to see some kind of fish some point this summer.
Allakaket: Pollock Simon – No activity here. There are some nets in the sloughs for pike and white fish. It’s been hot. Rained last night? Nothing going on here. Hopefully we will get some Salmon soon.
Districts 4b & c-Upper Yukon
Galena: Howard – 62 degree water temp. Water is high. Drift is increasing. Seagulls are about 200 yards of shore feeding on something out there.
Fred Huntington – All last week there were a lot of patrols looking for hungry fisherman setting their nets but I don’t think they caught anyone. Another thing I’d like to report is that there is a spam shortage at the store.
Districts 5a, b, c & d
Tanana/Rapids: Stan Zuray – slightly high water with small drift but more net spots could fish ok today. Only 4 camps open in Rapids. Other people are just waiting to see if closures will continue. One camp has already decided to close and head home. The only report of King salmon catches is down river one fisher caught 4 before the closure after a week of nothing. Seems like the closure was timely. People have fewer dogs now so fishing daily wont be as required. I don’t know how many ick samples I will be getting with less fishing. I am here and ready if anyone catches any incidental Kings.
Rampart: Charlie Wright- I am traveling right now, but I do have a little to report. Before the closure we fished 6” net and caught a few shellfish. One family caught 8 Kings. We pulled out because of drift. It is closed now. Before I left we were fishing with 4” catching in small numbers. After closure below Steves there was a family that caught a couple of Kings. I think the drift has calmed down now. People are getting really concerned, hoping and praying that a pulse comes through the river. Looking forward to putting something away for winter.
(Humpies = broad whitefish)
Beaver: Von (Unknown) – Nobody is fishing and we are really concerned that they are closing fishing 2 weeks before we even catch a fish.
Fort Yukon: Kara’lisa Trembley (read by Catherine Moncrieff) – No one is fishing yet. People are preparing and will most likely start in July.
Eagle: Ruby- Not much to report, high water. Not a whole lot of drift now. High temps – 80 degrees for last week. Lots of mosquitos. Not much going on in terms of fishing. Not many people have 4” nets.
Andy Bassich – Comments were not audible.
Districts 6a, b & c
Nenana: Victor Lord – We put a net in on Friday night. The river came up quite a bit and there was drift, we put it in anyway, it worked out well. No fish, and we took the net out because now it is 4” nets. There are fish in the river I am sure because the cotton started falling Saturday. It was nice to be on the river.
Fairbanks: Dorothy Shockley- Just listening in.
Virgil Umphenhour- I don’t have a heck of a lot except the south peninsula area M has caught 491,000 chum salmon since the 10th of June and have only reported 100,000 kings but I don’t think they are reporting the king salom.
Old Crow: Stan Sr.- Not much to report. Water level is average. On the porcupine we are in a different environment, most of the lakes are melted and the water is heading into the river system. Temps are cooler than usual. Couple of people have nets in for freshwater fish and are catching a few white fish. Very few that they are catching. I’ve only seen 2 nets. I traveled 120 miles on the river yesterday. Everything looks normal. Just waiting for the salmon for the ecosystem or for fishing, either way.
Whitehorse: Elizabeth MacDonald – I was in Dawson last week. The weather was nice there, not here. Everywhere we went the water was high, which I think is normal for this time of year. No salmon yet.
Teslin: Carl Sidney – Nothing much to report other than tons and tons of water. Lots of debris and the weekend is supposed to get hot.
Yukon River Organization Updates
Brooke Wright – Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Chairwoman: Our Executive council met on the 21st. We go over local reports, knowledge and run assessments. We discussed the closures and that there were not many reports of fishing and small reports of 4” fishing. Drift and lack of legal geal were barriers for fishing. The king run appears to be very poor or late. Another concern that the Executive council talked about was the low Chum numbers. Only 17,500 chum have been counted and typically by this time there are 400,000. The recommendation by the executive council has determined number 1 for low return numbers. Hopefully large numbers enter the river soon. The priorities and goals are to prioritize future generations by letting fish pass. Hoping to harvest Fall chum to make up for the low King fishing numbers.
Elizabeth MacDonald – Yukon Salmon Sub-Committee Director:– We are an advisory body. We make recommendations to the government. We aren’t allowed to share the recommendations until after they are accepted or not. But I think it is safe to say that we are recommending a very conservative approach.
Management Reports Agenda:
(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)
Deena Jallen – ADF&G Yukon River Summer Season Manager –
Thank you Brooke for relaying that information. We agree with that based on what we are seeing and doing. We are going to publish our update this afternoon.
Fred West- ADF&G Yukon River Area Research Biologist
So far what we are seeing is that the chinook that we are seeing is part of the trickle or possibly a weak first pulse. Catches from this morning may indicate a second pulse has entered the river, but we won’t know until it hits the sonar.
LYFT is not operatioal.In the South Mouth at Big Eddy, set gillnet operations for Chinook salmon and drift gillnet operations for summer chum and Chinook salmon are being operated the same as they were in past years.
Chinook salmon drift gillnet sites at Big Eddy and Middle Mouth were operational on May 22 and June 5, respectively. The Big Eddy cumulative Chinook salmon CPUE in the 8.25-inch drift gillnet is 32.45, which is below the historic average of 215.09. The Middle Mouth cumulative Chinook salmon CPUE in the 8.25-inch drift gillnet is 20.32, and the combined Chinook drift CPUE is 33.61. LYTF data indicates Chinook salmon have been entering the lower river mostly in the South Mouth, with just a few fish starting to enter the Middle Mouth. Summer chum salmon drift gillnet sites at Big Eddy and Middle Mouth were operational on May 25 and June 5,
respectively. The cumulative CPUE is 51.54, which is below the historical median of 2,376.05. While a few summer chum salmon are continuing to be caught in LYTF, no large groups have been detected.
The Pilot Station sonar began with a partial count on May 31 and full operations on June 1. Sonar and test fishing operations have been proceeding as planned. Water levels are slowly increasing with minimal debris. Chinook salmon passage is estimated to be 42,278 ± 5,425 fish (90% Confidence Interval), which is below the historical cumulative average of 73,213 fish. Summer chum salmon passage is estimated to be 17,521 ± 4,766 fish (90% Confidence Interval), which is well below the historical cumulative median of 405,191 fish based on normal run timing years, and 210,980 fish based on late run timing years.
The East Fork Andreafsky River weir began counting on June 18. Cumulative passage is 0 Chinook salmon, which is the average for this date; and 13 summer chum salmon, which is slightly below the median of 16 fish for this date.
Anvik River Sonar Project / ADF&G: The sonar began counting on June 15. Cumulative passage is 819 summer chum salmon, which is below the median cumulative passage of 1,860 for this date.
Henshaw Creek Weir / TCC: Crew is on site and setting up weir but experiencing issues with high water that may delay installation.
ADF&G and USFWS projects that will begin operations later this season when fish arrive in the area: Eagle Sonar, Salcha and Chena River Tower /Sonar (ADF&G); Teedriinjik (Chandalar) Sonar (USFWS).
Due to staffing and COVID mitigation concerns, USFWS will not operate Gisasa Weir this year.
*Notes from the 2021 Yukon River Salmon Summer Fishery Announcement #11 Summer Update # 3, Yukon Area Salmon Fishery were used for the Summary Notes.
Deena Jallen – ADF&G Yukon River Summer Season Manager –
We’ve been reaching out to our colleagues, and chum isn’t showing up really anywhere. It supports what we are seeing. At this time we don’t have the numbers to support fishing on Chum salmon yet. It is encouraging to hear from people that they are seeing fish jumping on the coast. We keep getting a lot of calls in the office about when we are going to open, and we just don’t know at this point but we will get that word out every way we know how.
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Holly Carroll – US Fish & Wildlife Service Yukon River Area Manager- I don’t have a lot to add. I do think that if the first pulse is passing Pilot right now, it is very bad. Our cumulative passage of 33,000 fish is a really bad King run. I think most people understand that and understand why we can’t go fishing. Thank you for your involvement and for your questions. Keep calling and keep staying involved.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Oliver Baker – Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Biologist-A brief update, fish have not started to arrive. In preparation mode. In terms of conditions, we had good reports from others earlier.
Jesse Trerice – Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada- As you heard from Elizabeth the recommendations from YSSC have been submitted. The Canadian Management strategy is expected to be finalized in late June in preparation for the run to arrive.
Questions and Discussions:
Mickey – Sounds like there is going to be no fishing for Chinook this year in Y4A. I just wanted to double check to see if there were any scheduled openings or thoughts of openings. I am in Fairbanks now, and if they are going to have an opening I will go home.
Deena – ADFG – No openings scheduled. Waiting to see the midpoint of the run at Pilot before we can decide. Then there will be some time for fish to get upriver to 4A. No summer chum to support fishing with alternative gear. If we do get openings it won’t be for a while.
Ken – Fred mentioned the 800 escapement? The Kings were usually done with dead carcuses on the river. Why can’t the sonar count Kings with the Chum.
Fred – They have a hard time catching enough kings (on the Anvik River) to make an assessment.
Ken – The other question I have on the chums is that the Anvik river was classified as…. Is that closure going to affect the closure? (Was not able to hear the question clearly)
Deena – The Anvik is a tributary of district 4, so it is closed for salmon right now? It is also closed right now for chum. Counts going up river are really low. Median accumulated to this date is 1800. If your district is closed, it also is closed on tributaries that drain into your district?
Ken- Chum run usually peaks around the 4th of July. Now that we don’t have commercials, what is the plan for the summer chum use, if we get say, 150,000 chum up there.
Deena- We will have to look into that later. We start with looking at summer chum at Pilot to make the overall drainage wide goal. Right now not enough chum to support any openings.
Ken – how do I get on the email list?
Deena – Call the emmonak office
Holly – Can I follow up? Ken, you brought up a good question, I wanted to remind everyone that there is still a summer chum goal on the anik river and that is 350-700,000 and if we don’t think we are going to meet that goal, we will have to close fishing for that as well.
Billy- Emmonak- I reported that there was a concentration of salmon coming in the middle mouth. Concern about test fisheries. Not showing up in their nets. My question is – in your analysis, with a contributing factor such as middle mouth, do you have a missing factor?
Fred – The question on how we use middle mouth compared to the other sites. In the past we’ve had a set net in the middle mouth. But for conservation we are not doing that, we are doing drifts, and we are doing drifts in big eddy. So far when we catch the Kings it is matching with passage in Pilot. It may not give abundance, but when we catch a king, they are seeing them in Pilot a few days later.
Joe – Last week there was mention about enforcement and Virgil’s report kind of really surprised me because that’s almost 500k chum salmon. And why is fish and game and USFWS not enforcing salmon interception around False Pass. The main question is if they are working in partnership on the river, why aren’t they in partnership beyond the 3 miles up to 200 miles? I am always disgusted that the people on the river have to sacrifice when the people in the ocean are intercepting the fish that are bound for the Yukon River and other rivers. I really want to see YRDFA hire local people and get them involved in political seats.
Deena- Those 300,000 chum salmon are not Yukon Salmon. It is not interception if those stocks are local.
Joe- a lot of people going to the meetings were reporting. There are other factors, not just Yukon River salmon but other tributaries.
Martin – This teleconference has always been about subsistence. Our fish racks are dry, empty. I’m really mad. I want my fish. I need my fish.
Serena- YRDFA does hire local people. We have 10 surveyors from communities. We would love to hire more people, but of course that takes money. I will look up Area M. I Need to speak with Virgil, we’ve been playing phone tag. I am setting up meetings with our US Delegation. I may fly out to Emmonk next week to meet with Sullivan’s staff.
Christopher Beans “Tato” – St. Mary’s – They started talking about genetics but didn’t give a percentage that was going to Canada.
Fred – ADFG- We called the first pulse at the sonar, so we are having the crew send in their genetics in the next day or two and then we will report out what the percentage is. We are just getting the first set of samples now.
Christopher- Thank Virgil for his information. Area M should close for the entire June until our numbers increase. So everyone can get their share.
John Lamont – I have a few points to make. I think ADFG should not keep saying that the ocean is not in their jurisdiction. The YRSA does state the life cycle of the salmon and that does include the ocean. The departments should be talking amongst themself. Come to find that the Pilot Station sonar is not monitoring 24/7. I may be wrong, but the state needs to put more money into it so we have accrue numbers. (All comments were not fully captured)
Dorothy – I am also frustrated. We are just not doing what needs to be done in regards to the fisheries. Managing fisheries is not the answer. We need to reach out and do more about what is happening in the ocean. Yukon River Panel. That is what we have to target. Research on how we can do something about the ocean and what is happening to our fish in the ocean. Whatever this is, is not working and hasn’t been working. There has to be something that subsistence people can do.
Holly – Just want to clarify Dorothy’s comments. I understand that whatever system is in place, it can be hard to understand. So even though you have heard what the numbers are, are you suggesting that each family take 5 fish? Is that your management suggestion?
Billy- Concerned about the enforcement. Listening to people going fishing and seeing all the indications that fish are going up river. I think we need to be consistent with enforcement. When we forgo fishing, we need to make sure that they are getting to the spawning grounds. We need all of our resources and enforcement is one of them.
John Lamont- Is the counter at Pilot Station counting 24/7?
Carl Fistler – Standard operations at the project is that we have 3 periods that we sample 3 hrs a day. In the past we have sampled 24 hrs a day to compare and they turn out the same. Most of our sampling error is in our apportionment. The only way to have no error is to sample every fish.
Cynthia – Pilot Station – First time I listen in on this conference. This year is the saddest thing to see. We have NO fish on our racks. Usually by now we are drying them and some are put away. If there is fish on the river, it would be nice if they would have at least a couple of openings so people can get their fish because July, the weather, once it gets hot, the flies come. They spoil our drying fish. I know everyone is frustrated but we cannot do anything about it with the closure we are having for subsistence. It would be nice to put some fish away, rather than none.
Deena- appreciate your comments. We know this year is hard for fishermen, and it is going to be hard. We need to get to midpoint and then if we can have at least some harvest, we are hoping. Unfortunately with the summer chum coming in so late, it doesn’t coincide with when people are used to seeing them. Waiting for more counts to see if we can hopefully fish. We want people to get some fish, but we just need to make sure that they get to the spawning grounds first.
Cynthia – Our Elders say, if we fight over what is not ours, then the fish will disappear. They used to say if there is thunder, it wakes up the fish. Every spring summer, thunder would make me happy because it brings in the fish.
Deena-Thank you Cynthia for your comments. We completely understand that there is hardship this year. We are waiting for the midpoint of the run and then determine whether to open it up.
Joe – (Comments were not able to be captured)
Deena- One of the costs that you have to keep in mind is to get closer to the ….(Comments were not captured).
Joe – What is the problem? Are you not catching?
Deena- Sometimes the fish move around in Middle mouth, sometimes the project lines up really well. Other times not. The crew has been around for a really long time so they know what they are doing . They are from Emmonak and Alakanuk.
Bill – If, big if, the fish show up, esp kings, give them on the river at least a chance to catch some fish before the end of the season.
Deena- yes, that is our plan, get to the midpoint and then estimate what is available for harvest.
Clifford- What is the magic number we are waiting for us to go fishing?
Deena-I don’t have that number. Our assessment crew is out. What we are looking at is the…. We need to see more fish than that. Last year we had good numbers in Pilot and it didn’t show in Eagle.
Clifford – We wait, we wait and for the number to come up. And this small number of Chinooks that swim up to canada and for some reason they die. The fish that die could have been in our freezer, fishrack, and those are some of the concerns of the coastal communities. They are getting itchy. They say when it starts getting green…(was not able to capture all the comments).
*YRDFA would like to apologize for not being able to capture all the comments during this teleconference due to a shortage of staff.
ADF&G HOTLINE: 1-866-479-7387 & Fairbanks 907-459-7387
Fairbanks Office 907-459-7274, Emmonak Office 907-949-1320