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Thread: Why the Big Runs?

  1. #1

    Default Why the Big Runs?

    Why the string of big runs? '83, '86, '87, '88, '89, and '92, were big years for sockeye returns in Cook Inlet. Is there anything that can be pointed to that caused such large runs? I'm hoping for informed opinions/reasons; not some shot in the dark, half-crazy, uninformed, off the wall, response. Please keep this conversation to facts and informed observations. Thanks,

    Brian
    Last edited by Powderpro; 08-14-2008 at 17:22. Reason: additions

  2. #2

    Default Good luck.....

    There is more than one reason why a run is large and a run is small. Ocean conditions are vitally important to fish survival, as are spawning habitat, and a vast, complicated array of other factors. Maybe, just maybe, those fish had better parents that instructed them to swim around the commercial fishing nets, watch out for predatory marine mammals, sharks, voracious bottom fish, birds of prey, and were allergic to metal products commonly found on sport fishing boats. Or, maybe they just got lucky......

  3. #3

    Default

    "Maybe, just maybe, those fish had better parents that instructed them to swim around the commercial fishing nets" - T.R.

    I asked for informed observations.

    I guess I'm looking for the less-than-obvious reasons that only an informed individual would know or recognize. Nerka may be the most informed to answer this question? Were the escapement numbers ideal in the Kenai and Kasilof that led up to those big returns? Were there elements present or not present during those years that could cause such a bump in numbers? The escapement numbers I have in front of me (from ADF&G) are "low" on the Kenai leading up to those big years. From '78-'86 they ranged from a low of 285,020 to a high of 630,340. In reality, no one likely knows for certain, but certainly there were elements present that caused those big returns.

    I'm assuming there have been studies done that looked at the reasons behind the big returns.

  4. #4

    Default Ocean Conditions....

    Quote Originally Posted by Powderpro View Post
    "Maybe, just maybe, those fish had better parents that instructed them to swim around the commercial fishing nets" - T.R.

    I asked for informed observations.

    I guess I'm looking for the less-than-obvious reasons that only an informed individual would know or recognize. Nerka may be the most informed to answer this question? Were the escapement numbers ideal in the Kenai and Kasilof that led up to those big returns? Were there elements present or not present during those years that could cause such a bump in numbers? The escapement numbers I have in front of me (from ADF&G) are "low" on the Kenai leading up to those big years. From '78-'86 they ranged from a low of 285,020 to a high of 630,340. In reality, no one likely knows for certain, but certainly there were elements present that caused those big returns.

    I'm assuming there have been studies done that looked at the reasons behind the big returns.
    Powder,

    This time without being tongue and cheek, again ocean conditions are of vital importance in what returns to the river. If the survivability rate is not high in the salt, the fish are not going to come back. As you mentioned, Nerka is a very good source of information. However, seemingly for the most part, what goes on in the ocean stays in the ocean kinda like in Vegas

  5. #5
    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    Default good question...answers may be more elusive

    Quote Originally Posted by Powderpro View Post
    Why the string of big runs? '83, '86, '87, '88, '89, and '92, were big years for sockeye returns in Cook Inlet. Is there anything that can be pointed to that caused such large runs? I'm hoping for informed opinions/reasons; not some shot in the dark, half-crazy, uninformed, off the wall, response. Please keep this conversation to facts and informed observations. Thanks,

    Brian
    I haven't really gone back to look at the parent year info for the years you cite. The Department's "Overescapement" report has some very good info in the appendixes that estimates return for each brood year for the Kenai LR sockeye. Perhaps there's some good information in there. I look forward to Nerka's response on this.

    TR is right, that ocean survival plays a significant part of any individual brood year's success/failure.

    But, we can't control ocean survival.

    What we can (try to) control is spawning escapement, which also plays a significant part in future returns. I wish I knew how much each of these two major factors played into brood year success...but with nature, nothing is ever a constant, anyway. But, the younger the fish are, the more susceptible they are to problems with their environment...and this is more affected by brood year escapement, than by ocean survival which only becomes a factor after outmigration.

    Should we throw our hands up becasue there are the influences that are out of our control? No, we should still try to do our best to control what we can, but still acknowledge that other factors can influence the results.

  6. #6
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    Default reports deal with this.

    There are a serious of reports that deal with this. I would call Mark Willette at ADF&G Soldotna to get the updated reports. However, some good things happened for these excellent returns. First, fry production was good going into the lakes, the rearing lakes had good light penetration- they were clearer and therefore food production was good - the marine survival was very high and this all came together. So it was not just marine survival but the combination of freshwater production and marine survival. If you look at ocean conditions the Pacific Decadal Oscillation was in the warm phase which increases Alaska salmon production. Below is a discussion of this from NASA.


    The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a long-term ocean fluctuation of the Pacific Ocean. The PDO waxes and wanes approximately every 20 to 30 years. From TOPEX/Poseidon data (see below) together with other oceans and atmospheres data, scientists think we have just entered the 'cool' phase. The 'cool' phase is characterised by a cool wedge of lower than normal sea-surface heights/ocean temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific and a warm horseshoe pattern of higher than normal sea-surface heights connecting the north, west and southern Pacific. In the 'warm' or 'positive' phase, which appears to have lasted from 1977- 1999, the west Pacific Ocean becomes cool and the wedge in the east warms.

    When this shift to a cool phase takes place marine survival drops. I am sure the poorer returns around the State this year will be examined relative to this shift to see an impact.

    If you want to follow up on this just google it and find the papers on salmon production and the PDO>

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    Default

    FWIW, I believe we've seen an increase in salmon predation over the last 15 years, both in-river and on the open seas. Other species, like herring, etc. have declined. Their preditors, like whales, seals, birds, and other fish find themselves looking to salmon (either fry, smolt, juvenile, or adult) for survival. I believe there has been an influx of gulls, eagles, seals, sharks, trout, etc. Just look at the way the seals have been working the River both spring and fall...I've seen them gorging as far up as Big Eddy. The Rainbows/dollies are so thick they school up behind a spawning fish just waiting for the eggs. Add in cool years with less sunlight (PDO), and an increased human factor, and you could have an explanation.

    I think it is a combination of things, and I've never felt like we have a balance between all the factors. We really need to keep pushing for more studies...Cook Inlet, in-river systems, and on the open seas.

  8. #8

    Default Open Seas Studies are Tough...

    I can't imagine where to even begin to study the open sea and salmon. A river? Sure, it is right in front of you - not that means it is easy. Cook Inlet? Bigger but ok probably doable. The open sea? Good god how do you do that?

    But, Gramps, I agree with you. Salmon survival, or the converse normally is dependent on more than just one factor. It is a culmination of all of them coming together, or going to hell in a hand basket. And, a lot of it, is clearly out or our control.

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    Default

    I agree. We've got some in-river and Cook Inlet puzzle pieces coming together, but the open seas are a different story. I think increased research, funding, and some technology breakthroughs would get us there. I keep telling my grandkids to pursue careers in that regard...maybe one of them will before it's too late. In the mean time, we just need to keep sustaining our fisheries. I believe we are doing a good job of that, given the circumstances.

  10. #10
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    Default

    The far East boats were still being work on. Those were the years it took to overhall all the engines of the Japan and Russian fleets.
    "You have given out too much reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later".

  11. #11
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    Default

    Well it helped that they didn't fish in '89
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  12. #12

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    Monkey- What group are you referring to that did not fish in '89?

  13. #13
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    comm guys weren't around to scoop up the exess...
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Default not true

    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    comm guys weren't around to scoop up the exess...
    While the drift fleet did not fish in 1989 the eastside set nets and northern district set nets had a record year.

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