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Thread: New Late Run Kenai River chinook numbers

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    Default New Late Run Kenai River chinook numbers

    The ADF&G released a memo as RC7 at the Board of Fish meeting in Anchorage that revised the late run Kenai River chinook salmon escapement estimates for 2010 and 2011.

    After subtracting estimates of harvest and mortality above the sonar (7026 in 2010; 6240 in 2011), the corresponding estimates of escapement are 26600 in 2010 (CI 13,100 -49,100) and 29,800 in 2011 (CI 16,100 - 51,900). Although the point estimates are within the escapement goal in both cases, considering the uncertainty in the predicted TS based estimates, there is a probability of 12% (2010) and 4% (2011) that the TS-based estimate would have led to an escapement estimate less than the goal (17,800) in those years.


    Before we jump on ADF&G the release of these new estimates took some courage on ADF&G part and they should be given due respect for doing so. They could have waited until after the Board meeting as this RC throws a major monkey wrench into KRSA ACR request based on conservation concerns. These new numbers cannot make that position defensible from ADF&G viewpoint. In fact, the local biologist for Sport Fish Division has stated that there is no conservation concern.

    Now having said that the inseason management decisions based on faulty numbers needs to be examined. An emergency orders were issued that impacted all user groups and created conflict in the community. Therefore, at this point I think ADF&G should ask the legislature for money for an totally independent review of the whole Kenai River chinook salmon sonar counting project - from the site to sonar to the netting program to catch sampling and creel census. That review should be done by a panel of experts in various fields and it should be done before next season.

    There is too much of an economic impact associated with the uncertainty in the present counting system. While I think ADF&G is trying to do the right thing with this memo they are missing the larger picture which is having a credible counting system. So far they are not moving fast enough in that direction. A new sonar counter at a bad counting site will not solve this problem.

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    Are there better counting systems out there Nerka? Would moving it help?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgpcr View Post
    Are there better counting systems out there Nerka? Would moving it help?
    I believe there are two major problems - one is trying to separate out 30,000 chinook salmon out of 1 million sockeye salmon and the second problem is assuming a new technology will solve this issue and inseason management will take place.

    I believe thinking out of the box is required. First I would move the counting site significantly upstream to where the current forces sockeye to the bank and chinook swim further offshore. Even if this at river mile 19 it would help in the separation issue.

    Second, I believe ADF&G should remove the inseason management pressure. Instead, with a counting site upstream let the fishery go for a few years to gain some knowledge on trends and then react based on the trend. Also one has a stable eastside set net fishery to use to help gage the run inseason. So only close or restrict when there is no doubt about the status of the return. Last year ADF&G reacted to a goal that was based on a flawed counting system.

    Let me gave an example. We know about 75% (rough estimate) of the fish spawn above the Sodotna bridge. Let see if we can count those 75% well first. That gives us a rough estimate of escapement. Next run the site with the new technology and over the next 3-5 years see how the escapement looks trend wise. Meanwhile, while doing this continue the genetic work to make an independent estimate of abundance and start long term studies on chinook salmon life history. Both of these will help establish goals for the population - distributional data on spawning should also be gathered.

    This approach takes the risk that something serious will happen in the next few years. I do not believe that but with the inriver harvest data and eastside data ADF&G should be able to react to a serious drop in production. This is in fact the way the fishery was managed for 25 years and it brought the stock back from the low returns of the 70's.

    My final recommendation is to have a completely neutral outside review of the whole program - top to bottom. Thinking outside the box is needed and sometimes managers make decisions because of short term desire vs what can really be accomplished.

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    Great post Nerka! You have some great ideas!

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    Nerka,
    I am not sure where you get the 75% spawn above the bridge number. From the information I have been told by F&G over the years that 75% number is correct (within reason) for the first run but not for the second run, where the majority of second run fish spawn below the bridge. From my experience in the middle river (below the moose) is that we don't see a significant number of second run fish until after King season. As in we fish out there (from the moose to about 5 miles down) in July to look for fish and we really don't find much, at least not a fishable number of fish, and then about a week in to August we will be silver fishing in 2-4 feet of water and it is tough to keep the kings off the hooks and we have to leave and fish elsewhere due to too high of king bycatch. That tells me the kings that do move up, the significant number move up after king season. It would be interesting to see if there is any data that supports my experiences. Again, I do doubt your 75% number and I would like to hear where you got that number from.

    As far as F&G goes, what I am finding out is that they have no idea what comes in the river. I have been told from the horses mouth that the counter is often off by 50% or more, and that is with minimal reds in June. They supposedly had a huge number of reds come in this year in June which through the counter off, but those fish never made it to the Russian as it was an average year, I was told that they were seeing "july like" numbers of reds in the test net.
    So what I am saying, is that I agree with you in that the counter is screwed up, they really have no accurate number, especially to be making inseason management decisions. Moveing the counter, it is an option, but moving it too far up river will miss a lot of fish, it is a tough one. Using the beach set nets to help with kings, I am not sure about that one, I know they had a bad king year (straight from some setnetters I talked to) but I also know of many kings not reported (I can pm you the details if you want). The bottom line is I am not sure that is a good measure of the king run. Heck, I won't tell you the conversation I sat in my boat and listened to over the vhf radio between two drift netters while I sat on the kenai fishing kings without bait.

    I digress, overall, there are problems with the current model for inseason management, do I have the solution, no, can it be done better, I am sure, is fish and game doing the best they can with what they have, probably. Is it tough to swallow when we spend the entire second run of kings under restrictions and now they say there is no conservation issue, yes!

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    Most driftnetters don't use a VHF. I am a driftnetter, and during the Cook inlet drift season I had two kings in my net and both were jacks! Check the numbers and you will see that drift netters are not causing the problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    Most driftnetters don't use a VHF. I am a driftnetter, and during the Cook inlet drift season I had two kings in my net and both were jacks! Check the numbers and you will see that drift netters are not causing the problem.
    Interesting, then why did I hear a one drifter talking to another drifter about a set that went from a point (can't remember which) out to the rip and they discussed the king that he caught and how he should take it home, the guy that caught it agreed and said it was already in the cooler on ice. Then they talked for about 10 minutes on how best to cure the eggs and the guy with the king was clueless on how to do it so they discussed it for a while. I know they don't catch many kings, really not beign sarcastic. Set netters catch way more than drifters, drifters overall don't do much damaged to Kenai kings.
    The interesting part was after the discussion about the king and how to do the eggs, the guy said he was heading in for the day as he didn't have that good of set and he then said it looked like most gus had headed in but there were a couple boats up on the beach trying to "mop up a few kings" before heading back in. It was all on my VHF radio.

    I am not saying drift netters are the problem, just an observation of a radio conversation I overhead. BTW, I frequently have to change VHF stations because of too much radio traffic from commercial fishermen.

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    Again MGH55, the main point of my original post is not a rip on commercial fishermen, it is the bold paragraph at the end of my post. The problem is bigger than setnetters, sportfishermen, dipnetters etc.....it is managing with managment tools that are not accurate enough for inseason management.

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    Yukon, here is a link to Bendock's study - http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/FedAidPDFs/fms92-02.pdf

    In 1991 60% of the fish spawned above the bridge. However, in 1989 and 1990 75 percent spawned above the bridge. He had four areas defined. Lower river, middle river, upper river and between the lakes. There was an equal distribution in 1989 and 1990 - thus 25 % in each area.

    Hope this helps.

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    Nerka, I am on my phone so I am limited, but wasn't the bendock study early run fish?

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Nerka, I am on my phone so I am limited, but wasn't the bendock study early run fish?
    According to the Bendock paper, 226 early-run and 221 late-runs kings were tagged for the study.

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    Thanks Marcus . Since this thread started about late run kings I assume nerka is saying that 75% of late run kings spawn above the bridge. I think this is incorrect. I am still on my phone so at this time I can't get the study.

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    Question Just maybe . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    . . Is it tough to swallow when we spend the entire second run of kings under restrictions and now they say there is no conservation issue, yes!
    yukon, did you ever stop to think that just maybe there is no conservation issue because guides were restricted during the second-run of kings? Also, and I don't even fish for the dad-gum things, it's somewhat incredible, given the shape of the runs and the lack of big fish, that anyone, let alone guides, would complain about restrictions.

    Beats me . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Thanks Marcus . Since this thread started about late run kings I assume nerka is saying that 75% of late run kings spawn above the bridge. I think this is incorrect. I am still on my phone so at this time I can't get the study.
    Yukon, I gave the numbers for late run fish from the Bendock report so the 75% stands for late run for two years and 60% for one year.

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    Nice try Marcus. Focus, try not to divert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Nice try Marcus. Focus, try not to divert.
    The message, yukon, not the messenger . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    The message, yukon, not the messenger . . .
    Back at ya! Please stay focused on the topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Back at ya! Please stay focused on the topic.
    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Is it tough to swallow when we spend the entire second run of kings under restrictions and now they say there is no conservation issue, yes!
    Whoops . . my bad . . sorry . . . . what was the topic? . . I forgot . .

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    Marcus, I was personally told different things by managers. Also everyone was restricted, not just guides, please don't try to turn this to a guide thread, not the topic.

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    I know dippers were restricted, halfway through the season and we didn't complain.
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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