June 28, 2012 | Volume 42, No.26

Price down slightly as gillnet season starts

Prices slightly below last season’s were paid to commercial fishermen during Lynn Canal’s first commercial gillnet opening of the year, June 17-19.

Commercial fisheries biologist Randy Bachman said 108 boats averaged 336 chums and 23 sockeye during two days of fishing. Fishermen made 80 cents a pound for chum and between $1.40 and $1.60 for sockeye, about a dime per pound less for each special than last year’s prices, including bonus payments.

Effort is expected to increase next week as other vessels arrive from other districts. Boats last week included ones from Petersburg, Wrangell, Sitka and Bothell, Wash. “Effort was average for the first week, but not the whole fleet. We’ll see that (in the opening starting June 24),” he said.

With 12,500 sockeye through Chilkoot weir late last week, it’s the strongest, early return of reds to the Chilkoot River since 1992, Bachman said.

Most of the fishing was for hatchery chum salmon in southern districts. Only a few boats fished between Seduction and Sherman points, he said. Sonar counted more than 1,000 reds into Chilkat Lake by late last week. “That’s above average. It’s encouraging. We hope it continues,” Bachman said.

Fish wheels were disengaged and pulled shoreside Friday, due to high water flows that were sending trees and other potentially damaging debris downriver. Such flows are rarely seen during summer months. “The high water is wreaking havoc on us.”

A three-day commercial opening, including Boat Harbor, was scheduled for this week.