Interesting article on the kenai red run



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  • Interesting article on the kenai red run

    Your concerns about this year's sockeye counts with a "Pink Bias" are what a great many folks are thinking and saying too.....MYSELF included. During this past week we had the highest daily counts of the entire run yet I watched 5 dedicated snaggers flipping bare hooks, complete with a dedicated netter in their bunch on July 31 (just before I went dipping in the afternoon). That day was counting 66,786 REDS (the biggest day of the year) and these guys are fishing just TWO miles upstream of the counter. That is an average fish passage rate of 2782 REDS an HOUR which is split on both riverbanks to 1400 REDS per HOUR and these guys got ONE small fish in a half hour before I quit watching. Now you tell me how 700 reds passed by these five guys in 30 minutes fishing illegally and one smallish Hidden Lake red was snagged? That is nearly 12 reds a MINUTE going by these five guys. That is ONE RED EVERY FIVE SECONDS through FIVE snag hooks! And no one was hitting fish at Soldotna Park along that bank just upstream either. I have not received a single fishing report that detailed fishing success equivalent to these daily counts from anglers fishing in the typical public access areas. Even with the DIDSON counting more fish than the Bendix system, a 66,000 red day would have been 47,000 reds on Bendix numbers and I would have seen limits all up and down the riverbank on a day like that. This year, even before the pinks hit, you had to work HARD every day for a limit of reds with the exception of those few "sweet spots" on the river that are easy or fairly easy limits even on slow days as long as some fish are passing.

    The ADFG Kenai Sockeye Sonar Counting project includes a fish wheel near the sonar which continuously dips a "sample" of the fish moving along the shoreline. ADFG biologists then count the various species of salmon caught in the trap and use that percentage to base their DAILY SOCKEYE Counts on. So if the fish box on the wheel had 200 reds and 200 pinks then that day's sockeye count would be more or less 50% of what the sonar counted. This is far from accurate, dependable, and trustworthy BUT its the only thing ADFG has at its disposal to determine the split between counted pinks and counted reds. And since pinks are not like reds and may travel further out from shore, many pinks in concentrations being counted on the sonar may not be within the fish wheel sampling zone near shore. This is were the PINK BIAS and error rate in sockeye accuracy comes in. And so the numbers you are seeing and the lack of high angler success rates pretty much spells it out as numbers you can't go by.

    WITH THAT BEING SAID, I just checked with the Commfish division and ADFG announced this morning (Wednesday) that due to the inaccuracies of sockeye counts being reported because of the numbers of Pinks in the river they will NO LONGER POST DAILY SOCKEYE COUNTS. They will continue to use the fish wheel and have engaged in a netting program to better assess the composition of the fish schools moving up the river. (Closing the gate after the horse is out of the coral.) Some of the previous daily counts may be adjusted after the season based on the combination netting and fish wheel information.

    LASTLY, I like you are very concerned about ADFG using these past couple of years numbers for managing the commercial harvest of Kenai sockeye. This single sockeye run is probably the most valuable salmon run in the state when accounting for the commercial harvest value, the Personal Use dipnetters value and the tourism/sport fishing value to this area. It impacts not just hundreds of jobs relying on this run, its HUNDREDS OF BUSINESSES with multiple employees relying on this run. Overcounting of sockeye escapement and managing commfish harvest based on those numbers will have future repercussions. There is no denying it. When ADFG Pre-Season Cook Inlet and Kenai River sockeye forecasts in the future come in way over what ended up in the nets for that coming season, YOU CAN'T TAKE IT BACK AND DO OVER! You live with the results. And the PROOF confirming those erroneous escapement numbers will be when all other Southcentral/Kodiak sockeye runs come in at expected levels so there is no way to claim "Mother Nature screwed the Kenai run" and didn't affect any other sockeye fishery return.

    We have ALL our eggs in ONE BASKET. A single sonar system that is raising serious doubts in the public eye is being used as the ONLY means of determining true inriver sockeye passage.
    • The previous day's dipnetter success & harvest at the mouth of the Kenai River
    • The Sport angler catch rates during the daily passage of apparent large sockeye numbers
    • The volume of fish being processed at local processors on the day of and day after huge counts are reported
    • Catch rates and volume of sockeye processed by Kenai River lodges and guiding operations
    • Monitoring sockeye catch rates in the King Salmon test netting project at the lower Kenai River king sonar project location
    • And lastly, the observations of Alaskans who LIVE ON THIS RIVER and KNOW whether the counts are accurate or not based on decades of fishing this river in their own backyards from Beaver Creek all the way to the Kenai Keys

    And all of this is IGNORED as additional indicators of sonar count accuracy. We don't count. The numbers WE are putting or not putting on the board in our daily use of this resource DON'T COUNT. The Fox with tunnel vision (the Mgmt Plan & sonar counts) is guarding the Hen House. And we are going to pay for it in a deterioration of our local river-based economy as failure of future sockeye runs to produce the world class experience we are trying to develop will fail to own up to its earlier reputation as RELIABLE.

    The state is getting ready to enter some tough economic times with oil running out, a multi-billion dollar cash giveaway subsidy to the oil companies, and a failure to find any significant oil discoveries or prospects that will turn around our negative state revenue shortfall to pay for our annual budget. Alaska's next ten years will need to be the transformation period to a private business based economy. And that means developing our Tourism and visitor count to the MAX to keep money flowing into Alaska. We can't do that when the NON-COMMERCIAL resource users of our fisheries are totally and completely ignored as step children who get the scraps and leftovers. We are heading for a state income tax, or state sales tax, or raiding the Permanent Fund, or a combination of these to fund our growing State Budget as the oil runs out and we are spending more than we take in. The little pools and pockets of oil the North Slope producers are "advertising" in their commercials won't even keep up with the North Slope production decline. You can't get oil (and state revenue) out of an EMPTY RESERVOIR. The bathtub is nearly dry! Pay attention folks. (I worked in Alaska's oil fields in production for 22 years!)

    OK, I'm off the soap box.

  • #2
    You forgot the part about if you vote no on the new oil tax it will be the worst decision of your life ;0 HAHAHA that's the last I will ever go to his website again.


    • #3
      Doom and gloom huh?
      Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation


      • #4
        I will try not to turn this political but with the mention of prop one it is hard not to.
        While Gary is a nice guy and he did work on the slope for a long time it was years ago that he was writing policies and procedures on the BP side of the slope.
        Some of us are here now and have seen first hand what is going on.There is a lot of oil left(40 years worth with what we know now)but we need to compete for the $$$ to go after it and with a bad tax plan the shareholders for the big 3 will vote to spend the money elsewhere.
        Just like any investor they want the best return on investment and under the old ACES plan Alaska wasn't the best return.
        Eagleford in Texas and the Bakken in the Dakotas certainly returned more money on the dollar as did other oilfields world wide.
        If the Sonar counter is indeed wrong then we need to get the system fixed somehow. Or get a backup system that we can compare numbers too.
        But that costs money. Money the state may or may not have.
        But if we expect Tourism to take the place of oil as Alaskas source of income then we need to start taxing the tourists to pay for things like this sonar.
        Maybe a bed tax is the answer as long as the money pays for essential equipment/services and not tourism marketing.
        maybe another increase in the Non Resident fishing/hunting licenses?
        Maybe a tax like commercial fishermen pay on the commercial fishing guides to help fund fisheries management?
        Maybe some other form of state tax that these tourists pay to help the state manage more of its resources?
        Tourism puts lots of $$$ in our economy but a mere drop in the ocean when you look at what they pay for funding state goverment and it's programs versus what oil revenue pays.
        It's time some other groups step up to the plate to help pay for essential services in this state.
        "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

        "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"


        • #5
          I do not have time to respond to the misconceptions and lack of understanding of the counting system and how it works. I will try to do it in the morning but kpgr you just missed the boat on this one. There are all types of checks and balances in past counts and this year ADF&G noted the issue when it showed up and took action.


          • #6
            Nerka I did not write it but my buddies who fished the Kenai hard and in different spots the last week tell me the reds are far and few between and these guys know how to fish. I will say the processors I talked to said this summer was a total bust for reds. I did not see many at the processors I was at when I was bringing in fish. Not many at all. That is my only point. I am just posting what another person wrote. Also I have NO opinion on AK oil. that is up to Alaskans! AK is only putting out 25% of what it did in the 70's. I have no clue why so that is why I have no opinion! Chris I do think AK should increase in fishing lic fees. I have often said there should be a halibut stamp for NR that could pay for buying out charters or IFQ's to lessen the burden on the fishery.


            • #7
              kgpcr, I smell sour grapes. Sockeye escapement was easily met July 27, before the pinks arrived to mess up counting.

              Canners are steaming, smokers are stacked, freezers are stuffed, and the larders are full. If yours aren't then you didn't put in the effort. All season sockeye trickled in steady and consistent. While fishing may not have been super hot, it was very good.

              By your own accounts ADFG is aware of the problem with pinks inflating the count (Nerka informed us of that news days ago), and they are working to obtain accurate numbers. That shows ADFG wants accuracy. Deciding not post the latest numbers shows ADFG wants to get it right. I would agree with your idea of more prompt in-season accountability for sport and dipnet harvests, however I would not support counts that rely on personal hearsay observations. FYI, there is a lot more to fish counts than just counting sockeye. ADFG uses interpellation, extrapolation, and statistical models to get the numbers. Kinda hard for you to criticize the counts when you don't understand how they are done.

              Your concern of how the fishery has been managed the last couple of years for commercial harvest is not born out in reality. The fishery remains very healthy, abundant, escapements have been met or even exceeded the top end of goals, all users are getting plenty of fish, and ADFG continues to improve their counting methods. The plan is sustained runs for longevity...and it has been exactly that.

              I'm not going to waste my time addressing the fuzzy math scenario you presented with those "snaggers" you saw, or the legitimacy of your fishing reports. The last few days of dipnetting was stellar. My neighbor pulled 80 on one tide, my grand daughter 55 on another. Fishermen are still limiting on sockeye - saw them doing it while I was silver fishing this morning - jumpers all along the bank (not pinks or silvers)- and it's the 6th of August.

              Your last paragraph about "NON-COMMERCIAL" users being "ignored", and getting the "scraps and leftovers" says it all - sour grapes.


              • #8
                Originally posted by kgpcr View Post
                Nerka I did not write it but my buddies who fished the Kenai hard and in different spots the last week tell me the reds are far and few between and these guys know how to fish. I will say the processors I talked to said this summer was a total bust for reds. I did not see many at the processors I was at when I was bringing in fish. Not many at all. That is my only point. I am just posting what another person wrote. Also I have NO opinion on AK oil. that is up to Alaskans! AK is only putting out 25% of what it did in the 70's. I have no clue why so that is why I have no opinion! Chris I do think AK should increase in fishing lic fees. I have often said there should be a halibut stamp for NR that could pay for buying out charters or IFQ's to lessen the burden on the fishery.
                I am confused. You did not write the first post on this thread but copied someone else opinion? That is fine I just want to know who I am responding or if you believe what is posted.

                There is so much misinformation floating about the UCI fisheries and counting systems. Some is valid but most is not. But let me expalin one important point - there is uncertainty in all fisheries work - we usually cannot see the thing we want to count. So what one has to do is define that uncertainty and see if one can live with it. In the case of the sonar counters one use may require no more than 50% accurate while another application would require 10%. Management can usually live with more uncertainty than research. On large systems rarely does anyone get better than 10% even in clear water systems and counting towers.

                The other indexes the author noted ---- the dip net fishery or the sport fishery have much greater uncertainty than the sonar counter. I and others have looked at those data and they just do not hold up. Sport fish data are so variable because of river conditions, time of day, movement patterns of the fish, and the list goes on that sport fish data on sockeye are pretty useless relative to making an abundance estimate verification. I might point out to my friends wrath that fishing at midnight to 2 am is the best time for sockeye near the sonar site. The fish do not move during the day very much so the counts are skewed toward evening. He goes down to the river at midnight and has it to himself and has nailed the fish most nights this past week. He says it has been great. So this points out what I am trying to convey. Fishing success is dependent on too many variables.

                At the dip net fishery the same applies but also the fish entering at the mouth spread out over 19 miles of river before hitting the sonar site. I have watched the river mouth for years to try and figure out a way to correlate the two and it just does not happen.

                The sockeye production is monitored more than with just sonar. The ADF&G started under my watch a fry abundance measurement program in both Kenai and Skilak Lake and those surveys are done every fall. So ADF&G has some idea of production potential from those surveys to help forecast and correlate with spawner numbers.

                No system is perfect and one should accept the uncertain nature of fish counting. What makes me nuts is when ADF&G closes a sport fishery and commercial fishery to save 8 chinook salmon. That is so outside the bounds of good science and understanding the issue of counting error it is laughable.


                • #9
                  Gentlemen, I hate to do this, but I'm going to have to lock this thread. First of all, it violates our forum rule regarding posting of copyrighted material. Posting a short excerpt along with a link to the original article is generally fine, but copying and pasting an entire article is not. Secondly, the post in question is from a competing website, so the issue of copyright infringement is even more of a concern. I'll delete the post in time, but wanted to leave this notice up for the moment so that folks were aware of our rules.


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