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Thread: Late run Kenai kings -

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    Default Late run Kenai kings -

    I just started this thread so there was a place to discuss the late run of Kenai kings. Of course it is always good to start out with a theory or two. So here it goes and I have no idea if any of these hypothesis are true. Just fun to speculate at this point.

    So the late run based on commercial catch looks very weak. That may be because some commercial fisherman are rolling their kings back into the water with the idea it is helping their fishery or maybe just helping them to fish more. I was looking at the king harvest in the southern beaches and it looks very weird. First the number of kings reported looks like it is a very poor return.

    But who know if the fish are being rolled out of the nets. So could rolling kings help the southern beach fisherman? Maybe, if it looks like there are no fish on the beach then fishing Kasilof sockeye makes sense and fishing more time is even better. Thus when sockeye are on the southern beaches it looks good and their season tends to be over by mid-July - just when the upper beaches start to fish (July10th this year)j. But if the run looks poor because of low catches then the upper beaches will not fish if the sonar counters also look weak - we know the sonar counters tended to count low in 2013. Given a week or more travel time to the sonar the southern beach fisherman may benefit at the expense of the upper beach fisherman by making the catches look poor or that the run is late. By the time staff figures this out the southern beach fishery is in the bag.

    One thing I learned is that fisherman are innovative when it comes to regulations. By not reporting the kings rolled no one knows what is going on.

    Next, the netting program in river according to staff may kill 20% of the kings caught and that is with someone on the net as soon as a fish hits. Yet commercial fisherman 50 miles from the river are rolling kings and assuming that they will survive. I doubt this is true but again this makes the southern beach fisherman look good relative to the time of their harvest.

    So far the sonar program is probably counting no more than a 1000 fish or so to date. Not sure as we have to wait for the posting but I would be surprised if it is much more than this. With normal run timing that would be a return of about 15,000 - all speculation on my part but Yukon reports, catches on the beach, and posted numbers last week would suggest this.

    So where is this leading. I suspect if the numbers do not take a huge leap in the next four days a catch and release e.o is coming by the weekend or just after. I suspect the all the beaches will fish on Thursday and then the door will be slammed shut and only 12 hours of fishing time per week allowed. We will see.

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    Default Speculation…. and a wager.

    I think you're on the right general track, Nerka… but I see it playing out just a bit differently.

    I think the step-down EO's will be more protracted as there is tremendous pressure to let the Kenai section setnets fish as much as possible given what happened the past two years. I don't see the EO to C&R happening until sometime after the first major push of Kenai sockeye hit the beach. The first good 3-4 day in-river escapement pulse will happen in the third week of July, triggering several EO's for a couple of big sockeye openers for the ESSN's, then slam the door early in the fourth week with an EO to C&R kings in-river for chinook conservation, which then triggers slowing the ESSN's down to 12 hrs per week.

    At that point there would be tremendous pressure to keep the river open to C&R thru the end of July. Rationale: the impact of C&R for another week or so will be "inconsequential" and it allows the ESSN's to continue to fishing albeit on a limited basis.

    As you said, though…. all speculation on BOTH our parts.

    I owe you a 6-fish limit of sockeye if it goes down more/less as you stated above

    You owe me a day of C&R kings in my boat if it goes down more/less as I stated above.

    Deal?
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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  3. #3

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    I believe in the ironclad ER/LR correlation we've used for the last few years, so I'm saying the run will be twice as strong as forecast...

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    I believe in the ironclad ER/LR correlation we've used for the last few years, so I'm saying the run will be twice as strong as forecast...

    Good one. If the fishery is managed the way you say smithtb and the run is weak the sport fishery basically has no time left to make any meaningful conservation action by the end of the third week in July. This is a political call at this point not one for meaningful escapement goal management. You said it in your first line - they want the upper beach to get some fishiing time due to political pressure. That is the wrong reason. It should be " they need to fish the upper beaches to harvest sockeye to meet the goals"

    If the run is around 15,000 your approach means they have given up the chinook goal for sockeye management. I do not disagree that should happen and have been pushing for the trade-off. I just think the political pressure will be so intense they will fold on that option. I know the Directors are telling fisherman what you outlined so I know you have some inside information but we will see when the run forecast comes out. Monday the 14th will be an interesting time period.

    Also, your stated approach just gives up on Kasilof and I assume that means the terminal fishery as the hours do not count. So Kasilof chinook takes a hit to save Kenai chinook.

    I along with everyone else hope the return is stronger and allows a full out fishery. As you state speculation and that is why in UCI we always said never make a decision until to have to do it. Things change quickly.

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    Just heard that with 1500 fish pass the counter that ADF&G is projecting a forecast run and will wait on action until after Friday and probably into next week.

    Message to ESSN Commercial set net fisherman on this forum - your chinook catch is not tracking the in-river estimate and reporting only 51 chinook from last period makes the run look like a record low. So those of you turning kings loose or rolling them out of your net. Stop it. The data are showing where this is taking place (Ninilchik beach for sure) and it will hurt the ability of the Department to manage the fishery. It is irresponsible to do this and may be illegal if the fish is dead. It serves the industry poorly. It will be an issue and I suspect an agenda change request will be coming on this issue.

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    I think a better message is to the fleet would be to roll out any viable fish and report the encounter.

    Retain any that are mortally injured.

    That way all the encounters get reported to reflect true run-size and yet some fish can still be passed thru the fishery.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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  7. #7

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    Everyone knew this was coming. Can't blame the fishermen, they're going to get a hard time either way. Many fishermen are voluntarily reporting the ones they roll, however there is no system in place to officially tract it.

    I think that one's a lost cause Nerka.

    Interesting that it may be illegal to roll dead ones. Seems that law would conflict with the various non-retention policies across the state. Not saying anyone should though. It's wasteful.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Good one. If the fishery is managed the way you say smithtb and the run is weak the sport fishery basically has no time left to make any meaningful conservation action by the end of the third week in July. This is a political call at this point not one for meaningful escapement goal management. You said it in your first line - they want the upper beach to get some fishiing time due to political pressure. That is the wrong reason. It should be " they need to fish the upper beaches to harvest sockeye to meet the goals"

    If the run is around 15,000 your approach means they have given up the chinook goal for sockeye management. I do not disagree that should happen and have been pushing for the trade-off. I just think the political pressure will be so intense they will fold on that option. I know the Directors are telling fisherman what you outlined so I know you have some inside information but we will see when the run forecast comes out. Monday the 14th will be an interesting time period.

    Also, your stated approach just gives up on Kasilof and I assume that means the terminal fishery as the hours do not count. So Kasilof chinook takes a hit to save Kenai chinook.

    I along with everyone else hope the return is stronger and allows a full out fishery. As you state speculation and that is why in UCI we always said never make a decision until to have to do it. Things change quickly.
    That was doc's post. I have no inside information.

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    I heard it from some fisherman who got it from ADF&G so thought you probably were aware of this approach. Sorry if that is a bad assumption.

    Who am I to blame if not the fisherman? At the KPFA meeting the area biologist said not to do this yet it continues. This has been discussed in 2013 and now in 2014 and yet some people continue to do it.

    Relative to your comment on rolling dead kings vs. other fisheries - these other fisheries have been told to do by regulation. That is not the case in UCI.

    Hope you are killing lots of fish. ADF&G made a good call to go today as the weather for Thursday is really bad for fishing.

  10. #10

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    Blame the idiots who have made it their life goal to strangle a completely viable and sustainable fishery, not a bunch of fishermen stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    Weather looks like it will be pretty bad, but sometimes that's good for catching. Pretty slow fishing everywhere today, but things can change quickly this time of year. By tomorrow there could be fish everywhere.

  11. #11

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    I was on the river for the first time this year last night. From what I observed, there is very little private effort targeting kings. I ran from above Big Eddy to just above the Beaver and saw two boats fishing kings. The water clarity would be fine for bait, but without as it is now, I would guess catch rates are very low. I returned at 11 and didn't see a boat. The Pillars had one truck and trailer, and Big Eddy Jetty was empty! Pretty odd for the Kenai in July. I suspect this storm will put more color and volume in the river which will further decrease king catch rates. This is great news for those of us concerned about early run fish still in the lower river. Tough conditions in river may give ADFG a bit more time to delay restrictions and will give them the ability to use the beach fishery when the big push starts. I would rather see a long, steady escapement, spread out over the season, than the three day glut we saw last season. We just fished reds last night and managed a half dozen. Fishing was slow and steady, but it was awesome to have the river to ourselves, at least for one night! Good luck to everyone as the madness is about to begin!

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    Just looked at the chinook harvest from the whole eastside set net fishery for July 9th. This is the first period where the whole beach fished. They took 140 chinook. A normal period would be 300-400. Last year they took around 370. So is this really a bad chinook run or ESSN is useless anymore because of rolling kings? Right now it looks bad.

    In river the counts of boats is dismal. 50 or so boats on the river and little harvest.

    If the late run is early by the same amount as the early run then the projection of total return is around 8-10k fish. If one time then it is higher but still not forecast. So the plan is to let the fisheries go until the end of next week and if counts do not improve take some serious action. I must point out that on July 10th error of an in-season estimate can be very high. So waiting a few more days is O.K

    The timing of all this is going to run right into a mess relative to sockeye management. I assume the drift gill net fleet will be getting lots of extra time shortly.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Just looked at the chinook harvest from the whole eastside set net fishery for July 9th. This is the first period where the whole beach fished. They took 140 chinook. A normal period would be 300-400. Last year they took around 370. So is this really a bad chinook run or ESSN is useless anymore because of rolling kings? Right now it looks bad.

    In river the counts of boats is dismal. 50 or so boats on the river and little harvest.

    If the late run is early by the same amount as the early run then the projection of total return is around 8-10k fish. If one time then it is higher but still not forecast. So the plan is to let the fisheries go until the end of next week and if counts do not improve take some serious action. I must point out that on July 10th error of an in-season estimate can be very high. So waiting a few more days is O.K

    The timing of all this is going to run right into a mess relative to sockeye management. I assume the drift gill net fleet will be getting lots of extra time shortly.
    I would guess that over half of the ESSN's are rolling live kings, so yes, harvest data is useless. ADFG knows this, as ESSN's are voluntarily reporting rolled kings even though there is not yet an official system to do so. Until there is, we will be stuck with insufficient data. I hope didson is all it was cracked up to be

    As for the LR kings, I can say that I haven't observed a real push of kings yet, however the fact that the river is getting 300-400 kings a day despite my dismal king harvest only serves as a reminder of what a small percentage of the total run setnets actually intercept.

    I stated that this run is looking like 2012. The ER did, timing wise and escapement wise. Similar numbers, and like in 2012 it was early. As for the LR, so far we are ahead of 2012 (and 2013), when, despite the ER being early, the late run was quite late and the goal was nearly exceeded. Like Doc, I suspect harvest pressure has shifted run timing but have no scientific data to back that up (as I'm sure Bfish would remind me if he didn't have to honor Dr. Nefario's inseason gag order.)

    Even so, we should see numbers pick up soon. I think the end of next week is quite reasonable, as it will give time for us to see what kind of escapements follow these large tides where king numbers are usually lower.

    I would also like to thank those on the river who are exercising their option to fish for other species besides kings. Those hogs need to spawn, and since our fisheries are now joined at the hip (thanks KRSA), the low participation inriver keeps harvest down, which helps the ESSN sockeye fishery remain open to harvest sockeye returns that to date are of epic proportions. Yes, even though the Kenai has not lit up yet, I believe that counts to date are near record.

    Heard the drifters who stayed and played today mopped up, although it looked like half the fleet stayed in the river. There's fish out there. Gotta love the W. Blow baby blow - stack 'em on the beach!

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    140 kings from the beach is HORRIBLE.

    I'll bet most were dinks.

    Catching in the river has been dismal… virtually ALL dinks with MANY sub-taggable runts (under 20"). Hard to believe that the river and its world renowned kings have come to this in my lifetime.

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    Thanks for that update, tb...

    I salute all the guys "rolling" their LIVE kings.

    I believe it is the right thing to do, even though it may hurt those folks from an accounting perspective.

    The number of kings the gear encounters is much more important than the harvest figure.

    If half the fleet is "rolling" kings, then it stands to reason that perhaps there are twice as many encounters as would be reflected in the harvest.

    This number would still have to be adjusted to reflect subsequent encounters after release.

    Regardless, preliminary catch numbers in the inlet AND in-river point to a VERY poor run.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    140 kings from the beach is HORRIBLE.

    I'll bet most were dinks.

    Catching in the river has been dismal… virtually ALL dinks with MANY sub-taggable runts (under 20"). Hard to believe that the river and its world renowned kings have come to this in my lifetime.

    A processor told me that 65% were jacks, heard about the same from the creel estimates. Have observed the same in my nets. Nothing new. Been that way for a few years. Luckily, I like the little guys!

  17. #17

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    Well it looks like Mother Nature will once again save us from ourselves. The river is about to be blown out for a week or so . Almost all of the locals, including most long time guides, have given kings a pass this year. The only ones fishing kings right now are those too young or shortsighted to know better. I was once there, but not now. Until the numbers really improve, I will fish reds and trout . By the way, we caught as many sea run dollies last night as reds, so there are opportunities in the lower river other than kings. I love fishing kings on the tide this time of year but I haven't even looked at my king rods and gear. We lost the early run years ago, but it looks like we are losing the battle with the late run as well. I used to call reds Cook Inlet carp and most years, I didn't even bother with reds as I had all the king and silvers I could use.It's really sad that that is the only game left in town.

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    Default What are you calling a "jack", tb?

    It's interesting how the "shifting baseline" phenomenon plays out in real life.

    When I was a kid, any Kenai king under 20# was considered a jack. I honestly can't remember ever catching a sub-20" "jack" before the year 2006.

    Now, we have 3 categories for such undersized fish.

    Dinks, rats, and "jacks"

    From the 70's - 80's perspective of what constituted a "jack"….

    Dinks = double digit jacks
    Rats = single digit jacks
    "Jacks" = sub-taggable micro-jacks
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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  19. #19

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    I've got to agree with you. I've only been here since 1985, but any king under 20.lbs. was a jack. I'm sure we caught a few " footballs" but they were something we shook off or put fresh on the grill. We didn't even mention them. Now, catching even a "football" jack is an accomplishment. You will even get asked what you caught it on! Sad days indeed.

  20. #20

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    The data shows that our kings have been returning younger, but with exception to the last several years, does not back up the assertion that there are less and less of them. Returns have been very robust in the recent past, as demonstrated by escapement data and sport/commercial harvest data and CPUE.

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