Kuskokwim Seeing Some Of Highest Red And Chum Runs On Record

Aug 4, 2017

Fresh cut red salmon hangs by the Kuskokwim River in Sleetmute.
Credit Anna Rose MacArthur / KYUK

The state estimates that about 15 percent of the silver salmon run has passed Bethel, with many more silvers to come. Other salmon runs are seeing some of their highest numbers ever recorded.

Before now, the Kuskokwim River has not been known for a strong red salmon run, but that’s what is happening this summer. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game presented the information to the Kuskokwim Salmon Management Working Group on Wednesday.

The red salmon run is one of the largest ever recorded. Some tributaries, like the Telaquana River, are having their highest run on record. State biologist Jordan Head says that the Kwethluk River is too.

“And if you look at that weir’s graph, you can see that it’s almost off the page,” said Head.

As biologists review the numbers, the silvers salmon are also beginning to come in strong.

Kalskag elder Bob Aloysius said that the past two weeks of almost continuous rain on the Kuskokwim will move the fish upriver.

“It means when the wind and the rain are here, it’s time to go silver salmon fishing, so be prepared,” he advised.

All that rain has washed into the river system, but the state says not to worry. Eight of the nine Kuskokwim weirs are holding. The Kogrukluk washed out at the end of July.

Red salmon continue to pass through the weirs, along with the occasional king and chum. Kings are currently meeting the state’s escapement goals.

The chum salmon run ranks above the historical average and is one of the highest ever recorded in the Kwethluk River.