The 2014 run will be composed primarily of returns from brood years 2009 and 2010. Five-year-old fish (brood year 2009) are expected to predominate Copper River Delta and upper Copper River runs. The Copper River Delta escapement indices for 2009 (68,622) and 2010 (83,285) were within the SEG range of 55,000 to 130,000.
The Gulkana Hatchery run will include fish from Crosswind Lake smolt migrations of 1.4 million fish in 2011 (3rd largest in 24 years) and 0.97 million in 2012 (13th largest). For brood years 1993–2010 the average migration from Crosswind Lake was 1.3 million smolt. The run will also include 4-year-old fish from a moderate Summit Lake smolt outmigration (314,911 or 12th largest in 29 years) and 5-year-old fish from the small smolt outmigration (94,123 or 19th largest).
The 2014 total run forecast (2.56 million) is similar to the recent 5-year average total run (2.57 million). If realized, the 2014 forecast total run would be the 8th largest in the last 35 years (since 1980). The 2.09 million natural run would be below the recent 5-year average (2.14 million), and a 0.47 million Gulkana Hatchery run would be slightly above the recent 5-year average (0.42 million). The natural run forecast is driven by the large 4-year-old (age-1.2) fish estimate in 2013 (623 thousand; largest since 1965) and the subsequent prediction for 5-year-old (age-1.3) fish in 2014. There have been 7 additional years with run estimates of age-1.2 fish greater than ~400,000. The return of age-1.3 fish the following year has been significantly larger than expected in 6 of the 7 years. The enhanced run forecast is driven by moderate smolt outmigration numbers from both Crosswind and Summit lakes, but recent good survivals. The influence of environmental factors including the cooler ocean temperatures that have predominated since September 2007, and the El Niño event (August 2009 to May 2010) are factors that increase the uncertainty in the 2014 run projection. However, the main factor in the uncertainty of this forecast is inputs to the model to predict the age-1.3 return are outside the range of our historical data.