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giant school of reds in cook inlet

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  • giant school of reds in cook inlet

    might just be wishfull thinking but last year i heard this story about a huge pod of reds in cook inlet then 2 days later they hit the river big time does any body have this kinda story 4 me this year or am i SOL?....also if the OTF index is 31 what does that tell me? thank u 4 youre replies

  • #2
    Cook Inlet

    Well I was down on the Inlet yesteday and snooping around the Kasilof and saw the the corkers hitting it real hard. I think the limit went up to 6 reds if that gives any indication on how concerned the State is with escapement. I didn't fish the Kasilof, but I understand it was hard going with the those nets out. I did fished the Kenai just down from the ferry Saturday and got my limit, but it has slowed from a few weeks back - as expected! I will post pics in the next couple days.



    • #3

      Nope, they're not concerned with sockeye escapement into the Kasilof at all. Why should they be? They're already over 120,000 with the big push of the run still to come. Escapement goal is 150,000-250,000. That's why the Comm. guys are hammering it so hard in the Kasilof section. Not good for the late run kings down there.

      Now, as for the northern streams and the Kenai, that all remains to be seen...numbers on the Kenai should start picking up by the end of the week.

      The OTF index number is basically an average of how many fish they caught with a set amount of gear, for a certain amount of time. They fish six sites from Anchor Point west to the west side of Cook Inlet. I may not remember this completely correct, but I think it was 100 fathoms of gear (600ft) and an hours fishing time. Also, each index point is thought to correspond with a certain number of fish in the area....I'm thinking 1,000 fish per index point, but I could be way off on that.


      • #4
        Okay, check out this .pdf file OTF Info.
        Should be enough information there to make you dangerous...or confused.


        • #5
          Better for the kings?

          Originally posted by akfishinguy
          Nope, they're not concerned with sockeye escapement into the Kasilof at all. Why should they be? They're already over 120,000 with the big push of the run still to come. Escapement goal is 150,000-250,000. That's why the Comm. guys are hammering it so hard in the Kasilof section. Not good for the late run kings down there.
          A technical question: Could it perhaps have been better for the late run kings down there had the commercial nets been able/allowed to fish harder earlier or would that not be acceptable/workable either?


          • #6
            A technical question: Could it perhaps have been better for the late run kings down there had the commercial nets been able/allowed to fish harder earlier or would that not be acceptable/workable either?
            Not quite sure how to read that question. Kind of sounds like you think I'm against the comm guys out doing their thing, which I'm not....although I would like to see more of the second run kasilof kings getting through (which maybe most of them are....don't know). Knowing what the numbers are now, yeah, maybe they should have been fishing more early in the run, but hindsight is 20/20. The problem with hitting a fishery too hard too early is, what if the numbers of fish don't show up like you expect? Then there's nothing you can do besides restricting fisheries, which may not be enough to reach your goal if the run really falls flat on its face.
            The real problem with fisheries is they're so dynamic...too many unknowns and often no practical way to eliminate the unknowns.


            • #7
              fishing in a terminal area is terminal

              The management approach ADF&G is taking this year has never been done before (heavy use of a terminal fishery) and may cause significant harm to late run Kasilof River chinook or allow the escapement of sockeye salmon signifcantly above the goal. It is a fool's game they are playing right now.

              In 1985 the Kasilof River had an escapement of 500,000 sockeye and this brought back about 500,000 sockeye. So the Board of Fish put the terminal fishery at the mouth of the river in as a last gap measure to keep from having a large escapement. It was never intended to be a primary fishing tool. In fact, the orginal managment plan that put this in place said that fish should be taken in traditional fisheries and area. However, that has been rewritten to say This management plan governs the harvest of Kasilof River salmon excess to spawning escapement needs. It is the intent of the Board of Fisheries that Kasilof River salmon be harvested in the fisheries that have historically harvested them. There is no historical fishery that took place in the river mouth - even the federal government know this was wrong.

              The intent is still clear. This should be a measure of last resort. Any fool knows if you use 600 drift gill nets and potentially 700 set nets in a confined area you can shut things down. The degree of harm is how many fishing periods you have. This year ADF&G is using the terminal area frequently as a protective measure when the set nets are not fishing.

              Therefore, why did ADF&G project a spawning escapement of greater than 275,000 - the turn on point for the terminal fishery - at the end of June? It was because they did not want to fish the set net fishery beyound what is stated in the plans for Kenai chinook. So they are giving up Kasilof River chinook for Kenai River chinook. The rationale is that they can monitor Kenai River chinook and can adjust fishing for that stock. For Kasilof there is no in-season estimate or goal and therefore no accountability by using the terminal area. In addition, powerful elite chinook salmon fisherman in the Kenai have more politcal power than Kasilof river chinook fisherman.

              Relative to your question Marcus, fishing the set net harder in the early part of July, within 1/2 mile of the beach, would save Kasilof River chinook and Kenai River chinook. That is the irony of the situation. When the management plans were written Kenai River Sport Fishing Association and the guide association pushed for windows and limited fishing time in the set net fishery. This has forced managers to fish every hour given to them and to implement the terminal fishery. This has resulted in my opinion in an increase in the chinook harvest.

              Let me provide some rough numbers. Without windows the average exploitation rate of the east side set nets on chinook was I believe between 16-20 percent of the total return. Today, with the window fishery the exploitation rate is between 23-28 percent.

              At this point in the season it is too late to do anything for Kasilof River sockeye escapement and in my opinion the terminal area should not be used - instead the 0.5 mile set net fishery should be used instead.

              So the long answer to your question is that to harvest more Kasilof River sockeye one should fish harder the first week of July with the set nets and drift gill net fleet in an expanded corridor which includes the east rip.

              A further break down in logic is when they used the terminal area they did not fish the drift gill net fleet in an expanded corridor. During the first week in July Kenai River and Susitna sockeye are not in the district and therefore harvesting fish in the corridor by the drift gill net fleet everyday if necessary would help. However, ADF&G has instead used the terminal area without using the drift fleet in the corridor when the set nets are closed.

              I believe anyone interested in the wise use of Kasilof River chinook should contact the Commissioner of ADF&G and state their opinion about the use of the terminal area this season.


              • #8
                No hidden meaning. . .

                Originally posted by akfishinguy
                Not quite sure how to read that question. Kind of sounds like you think I'm against the comm guys out doing their thing, which I'm not....although I would like to see more of the second run kasilof kings getting through (which maybe most of them are....don't know).
                akfishinguy: There's nothing to "read" in my question other than exactly what the words say. Whether you're for or against the comm guys "out doing their thing" is your business and no business of mine to try to second guess, read your mind, or accuse you — as some have done to me — of "fishy" motives. As far as I read your posts, you're an up-front guy. Thanks.

                My question is exactly as stated — purely technical, and Nerka has done a superb job of answering it. Thanks again.


                • #9
                  Thanks for that perspective, nerka...

                  That explanation clearly illustrates why the archaic non-selective gear-type being universally employed in Cook Inlet virtually guarantees that managers will continue to have significant ongoing dilemmas in regulating this complex mixed stock fishery. This year is just the tip of the iceberg.

                  You basically have a complicated mix of highly-valued sockeye, chinook, and coho from three major drainages ( Kasilof, Kenai, Susitna) migrating thru the killing fields. That's at least 9 major stocks subjected to intense gillnet harvest. It is pure fantasy that all nine will return in healthy numbers every year. Managers currently have no way to enumerate late Kasilof kings, nor can they count any of the coho stocks in-season. The fact of the matter is that there will be weak stocks and strong stocks each season.

                  By sticking with an antiquated 150-year-old technology (this is the 21st century isn't it?), managers will have to face the reality that non-selective methods will result in either:

                  1) overharvesting of weak stocks in their lust to maximally harvest strong stocks.

                  2) "over-escaping" strong stocks in an attempt to responsibly protect weak stocks

                  3) or both.

                  I think #3 is occurring as we speak. God only knows how many Kasilof kings are being slaughtered in the intense Kasilof net fishery. We don't even have an idea of the overall stock status of late Kasilof kings, and yet here we are prosecuting an aggressive gillnet fishery IN THE RIVER NO LESS with chinook exploitation rates in the stratosphere. We are worried about a weak Kenai sockeye return, and yet those fish will swim past gillnets being fished to the max in the Kasilof Section, while nets in the Kenai Section may well be sitting idle. We've got a weak Susitna return that's severely constraining the drift fleet. We've got accusations flying that Kasilof kings are being sacrificed for Kenai kings. And in the end, the Kasilof will still end the season with a significant "over-escapement".

                  This is absolutely insane. It's time for fish managers to get a grip! There are plenty of fish to keep all the users happy in a peaceful cooperative co-existence that maximizes harvests of each one's respective target stock(s), while still protecting weak returning stocks (and even unknown stocks like late Kasilof kings) in any given year. Non-selective gillnets should be eliminated from Cook Inlet. In this world of technological wonders, why does the industry cling so tightly to an outdated, indiscriminate harvest method?

                  It's high time we make a paradigm shift toward live-capture methods that enable the fleet to release non-target stocks unharmed. A state-sponsored pilot project along these lines is LONG overdue.
                  "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
                  The KeenEye MD


                  • #10
                    It's not biology, it's politics

                    I haven't delved into the fisheries side of ADFG as much as the wildlife side, but in my limited talks with fisheries bios I have come to the same conclusion:

                    At least half of biology now is politically motivated and has nothing to do with science.

                    What is good for the fishery? What is good for the people (commercial and sport fisheries)? What is "so-so" for both? Balancing the needs of the special interests against the needs of the fish stocks is, as the term implies, a balancing act.

                    To be a biologist requires good juggling skills. Until we give bios a mandate to manage according to science, and not political whims and special interests, we're gonna have some strange things happen. We've got some of the best biologists in the world. It's too bad we can't let them manage our fisheries based on what's best for the fish (in the long term) and not what's best for us.

                    In the end, what's best for the fish is what's best for us!

                    Mark Richards


                    • #11
                      Fired up!

                      Originally posted by fishNphysician
                      ...archaic non-selective gear-type (...) pure fantasy (...) antiquated (...) lust (...) slaughtered (...) exploitation rates in the stratosphere (...) sacrificed (...) insane (...) get a grip! (...) Non-selective gillnets should be eliminated from Cook Inlet. (...) make a paradigm shift toward live-capture methods that enable the fleet to release non-target stocks unharmed. A state-sponsored pilot project along these lines is LONG overdue.
                      Holy Moly! And I'm being accused of spin and passion!?

                      Doc, why don't you forward this post to,, & as well as ADF&G Commissioner Campbell and Governor Murkowski. Whether or not your ideas have any merit, they need to see how at least one non-resident views Alaska's fisheries' management.

                      And what do you want to see put in place of "non-selective gillnets"? Fish-traps? Weren't those outlawed with statehood? — just asking. And what's with the "state-sponsored pilot project"? Are you advocating socializing the fishery? Destroying private enterprise?

                      Not trying to be nasty, doc — there's nothing I'd like better than for everyone to get all they want of whatever and for all the divisive strife to cease. Send your suggestions to the Governor and the Commissioner and post their replies to the forum.

                      You, like all the rest of us, have your own "special interest," your own agenda. Let's content ourselves with encouraging Alaska's managers to do the best they can for the fish. Enough with agendas and special interests.


                      • #12
                        How's this one for starters:

                        (From Lt Gov Loren Leman responding to an article I wrote a while back regarding the resurrection of fish traps)

                        Your article is very thought-provoking. I am becoming more of a believer in making this previously unthinkable radical tranformation in harvesting methodology in Cook Inlet. Actually, it's not that radical--my father, still living, previously operated a fish trap near Ninilchik on Cook Inlet. He had to make the transition from trap to set gill nets in 1959. It wasn't easy. Trap fish in the 50's (and earlier) weren't handled properly for today's market--but they could be now. Now to figure out a way to buy out the overcapitalized gill net fishery!!

                        Loren Leman

                        In a subsequent correspondence, he wrote:

                        This will be a long time project, but I agree with you that a pilot project is the place to start. It will take industry "buy-in" to be successful. I am considering this with an open mind.

                        Old man Leman even shared some vintage Ninilchik fish trap photos with nerka who later shared them with me.
                        "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
                        The KeenEye MD


                        • #13
                          Gill nets

                          To a certain degree gill nets are species selective. I used to be an evil commercial fisherman out in Bristol Bay up until about 5 years ago. We were regulated by net mesh size to ensure that we caught the targeted species- reds- using, (if I remember correctly) 5-3/8" gear. We caught some Nushagak kings incidentally, but not by the gills. Had we been using king gear we would have caught far more. Marcus is right. Fish traps and impoundments would not be practical for the independant commercial fisherman unless he/she were part of some cooperative. My guess is that selectively removing certain species out of some apparatus would cause high mortality. The Soviet Union used to run large fishing cooperatives in the Russian far east. The whole idea does sound a little socialistic.

                          I enjoy "sport" fishing as much as the next guy, though not as much as some I suppose, but commercial fishing helped build this state. It is inevitable that they will decrease due to the immense political pressure of sport and personal use fishers, but I for one will regret their demise.


                          • #14
                            For anyone interested, here's the text from the article I wrote a few years back:

                            The Cook Inlet commercial fishing industry is in dire need of reinventing itself if it wishes to survive. Competition from farmed salmon has eclipsed the market for wild salmon, and prices have tumbled in response to the glut of product on the market. At the same time, opportunity for commercial harvest is being progressively curtailed to satisfy the growing allocation to recreational fishermen. Additional opportunity is unnecessarily lost in order to conserve king salmon bound for the Kenai River. This year, sweeping changes will severely restrict the industry’s ability to harvest the available surplus of Kenai River sockeye. With the glut of farmed fish at an all time high, salmon prices at an all time low, coupled with severe restrictions on his ability to make up the difference on volume, the average commercial fisherman is doomed if he wants to continue business as usual.

                            Part of the solution to the farmed salmon problem lies in creative marketing. No where is this more elegantly demonstrated than in the Copper River Delta. Copper River kings and sockeye have become “recognized” among buyers as the finest eating Pacific salmon. In the eyes of the consumer, these fish are seen as a uniquely distinct product that is superior in all respects to the bland flavorless farmed product. Thanks to intense marketing, it is even reputed to surpass the quality of salmon harvested in “other” Alaskan fisheries. While the truth of that reputation is subject to serious debate, the fact remains that Copper River fish command premium prices for which Cook Inlet fishermen would only drool.

                            The Cook Inlet product must somehow be made out to be special, unique, and most of all better than the rest. The marketing campaign must appeal to the tastes and conscience of the modern day consumer. The real challenge to the industry is the ability to deliver a product to market that actually meets or exceeds those claims. It can be done, but it requires thinking outside of “the box” or in this case the standard gillnet.

                            Think about the average gillnet-caught sockeye. Sockeye Sam unknowingly swims into an entangling curtain of death. His body is mangled by the constricting mesh as he twists for the freedom he will never achieve, and slowly he dies of asphyxiation. Sam sits in the net for perhaps hours, his flesh becoming more water-logged with each passing minute. Because of the time pressure imposed by limited fishing openings, he is picked from the net and unceremoniously tossed aboard with the finesse of a grizzly bear, his flesh badly battered and bruised in the process. Sam finally comes to rest on the beach piled with thousands of his brethren in the warm July sun. Thoughts of carefully bleeding the catch and placing it on ice are overshadowed by the urgency to get out there and catch more salmon to make up for the lousy 40-50 cents per pound the product will ultimately bring. In the days when Sam was destined for nothing more than a can that could easily disguise his many blemishes, this method of harvest was par for the course. Those days are long gone!

                            In contrast, let’s fast forward to the year 2006. Picture a net pen alive with thousands of writhing salmon. Those destined for fresh markets are gently captured with a fine soft-mesh scoop net and quickly subdued with a sharp blow to the head. Each fish is otherwise flawless, not another mark or bruise on its body. Each is carefully bled, dressed, and iced. Buyers are clamoring to pay between $3.00 and $3.50 per pound because they know this superior product will retail for three to five times more in upscale fish markets or perhaps $25 per six-ounce serving at some fine gourmet restaurant. The Kalifonski Fish Farm, you think? No way! This is a fishing operation run by Sockeye Sam Seafoods, a cooperative of seven former gillnetters that own Cook Inlet’s first and only fish trap. A slick marketing campaign boasts of the finest wild salmon to be found on the west coast in mid-summer, its ruby red flesh the product of foraging in icy Alaskan waters. These salmon are far superior to the bland-tasting, pale-meated, genetically-altered mutants raised on fish pellets and hormone supplements in Chile. Additionally, these fish are harvested by fish-friendly methods that not only ensure the highest quality product, but also protect threatened stocks of other salmon species by eliminating unwanted bycatch. Because these sockeye are held alive, a steady flow of product can be stabilized throughout the fishing season, and the availability of product can be prolonged for weeks after the fishing season is actually finished.

                            Under a special state permit, the co-op operates with grant money that subsidized half of the startup costs for the pilot project. The other half would be financed with a no interest loan to be paid off over the next five years. A forgiveness clause nullifies the outstanding balance should the venture fail. Unlike the remaining east side setnetters who have only been fishing twice a week, the fish trap fishes seven days a week. In fact, it’s now the third week in July and the sonar counter has totaled only 12,000 kings past the lower Kenai River. Biologists are also predicting the worst return of silvers to Cook Inlet in 40 years. Meanwhile, sockeye returns to Bristol Bay have crashed yet again. The shortage of available sockeye has sent prices through the roof as a run of 4.2 million Kenai reds continues pouring into the Inlet. Unfortunately, ADFG issues an emergency order to shut down the east side setnetters, fearing that escapement goals for late run kings and early run silvers will not be met. The Sockeye Sam co-op is exempt from the closure, however, because its selective fishing method poses virtually zero impact on the ailing returns of kings and silvers. These non-target stocks are released unharmed. The money is flowing in faster than the reds swimming up the Kenai in record numbers. All these guys had to do was give up their gillnets and not kill another king or silver salmon.

                            Sounds like a pipedream? Perhaps, but it is certainly in the realm of possibility. Innovators in the industry must step forward to initiate these reforms. The focus should not be on catching ever larger volumes of product to offset ever lower prices. Rather it should be directed at selective fish-friendly methods of harvest that yield more modest amounts of the highest quality product, commanding premium prices. Business as usual will only result in ever-dwindling opportunity to harvest a product with ever-dwindling value. Mother Necessity calls; is anybody listening?
                            "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
                            The KeenEye MD


                            • #15
                              fish cages

                              as a non resident fisher i would gladly pay an extra 10 bucks per years license 2 help build sockey sams fish holds or even invest in something along the lines of what the doc wrote about..I paid an extra 30 bucks this year for my nonresident sportfish license for fish enhancement and am glad 2 pay it as long as i feel this will help the fishery.but if the fish and game keeps raising prices for the sport fishery and the comfishers dont have 2 invest more out of there pockets how is it fair that they reep the reward that others have paid for ? I will spend 2k this year 2sport fish in alaska so 2 me a sport caught fish is worth a few more bucks than a com fish...if not tell me why a com fish is worth more ? if u go into town in soldotna after about 4 straight comfish days you will hear 100s of fishermen screamen about it .about how there not ever coming back 2 ak but not me I love alaska 2 much not 2 ever come back infact i cant wait I will be back on friday hopefuly so will the reds hopefuly they will be ripndrag...


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