The Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers are having opposite experiences with king salmon this season.
The Kuskokwim kings arrived late, in a small trickle, and state biologists now say that the run may meet escapement goals. Less than 60,000 kings are estimated to have passed the Bethel sonar station. To meet the lowest end of drainage-wide escapement, 65,000 kings would need to reach their spawning grounds.
Meanwhile, the Yukon River kings arrived early in the largest run observed in more than a decade. More than a quarter-million kings have passed the lower river sonar site at Pilot Station. The run is expected to meet escapement goals and provide a larger subsistence harvest than last year.
Some Yukon tributaries have already met escapement for king salmon, but high water is disrupting accurate counting on others.
The summer chum run on the Yukon is also experiencing a banner year. More than 3 million summer chum have passed the lower river sonar station, far above historical numbers, and escapement goals for these fish are being met along the river. Starting today, July 18, chum salmon arriving in the Yukon River will be considered fall chum.