% of Small Reds in a run?
We have run into a puzzling situation out here in the Copper River drainage and I don't have a clue why it is happening and I am hoping some of you do.
In the fish wheels on the Copper above the Gulkana many of our neighbors are catching a very high % of immature Reds. One guy cleaned out his wheel yesterday and had about 40+ reds in the well but better than 70%of them were smaller than Pink Salmon and we guess that they are 2 year olds. I understand that it is common to have some early returners get mixed in but this many? My daughter works on a fish weir on the upper end of the Copper-Salana area and they to are seeing lots of immature reds returning. The total return numbers are off the chart but way to many 2 year old fish as well.
My question is why have so many immature fish returned and how will this affect the return in 2 years? Another odd thing is my groups on the Gulkana are doing well with Reds and none have landed any small Reds at all? It's a puzzle to me. Any ideas?
Gulkana Raft Rentals
I've seen the same thing in Kodiak this year. One stream had a large percentage of under 20 fish. Others I haven't seen a single one under 20.
I don't think anybody has a good handle on it.
One factor on the copper drainage this year is that most of the run has been extensively netted down in PWS since the early counts were so far above minimum. So it is easy to envision this skimming off the larger fish and increasing the percent of small fish amongst those that make it to the river. There is also a fair amount of inriver highgrading.
I doubt this explains it all though, but it is probably relevant when you consider how many have been harvested versus the inriver counts. I do know that the bulk of the hatchery fish are returning now and it was mentioned to me by an adfg employee collecting otoliths at obrien cr last year that they tend to be smaller in size than the wild stocks, but don't know how true that is.
It could be a matter of good survival amongst the 1 or 2 year age class, hence there are a lot more 1 and 2 year sockeyes that didnt return early as well, which would bode well for strong runs the next few years.
Who knows, there are a lot of random factors out there that are totally uncontrolled for.
It's a pain i agree bc it's the same amount of work processing a 3 lb red as a 12 pounder, but that's life. At least they're still delicious.
If a sockeye has only spent 2 years at sea does that mean that it is immature and its offspring will be a two sea year fish also??
I caught a small red out in the salt a couple weeks ago that had fully developed eggs - I am sure that she would have sewed her oats same as the bigger ones.