'Truly remarkable': Red salmon run rebounds
The state Department of Fish and Game lifted a ban on retention of sockeye by sportfishermen along the Chilkoot River Tuesday, following what one biologist called a “truly remarkable” surge in the run.
A dismal return of 4,355 reds as of July 15 rocketed to 28,473 just six days later, including passage of 9,967 fish in one day, July 18.
“We’ve been tracking the run all season and the numbers have looked poor, then they come out of nowhere, really,” said Brian Elliott, area management biologist for the Division of Sport Fish. The state’s minimum escapement goal of 38,000 – which appeared a distant dream a week ago – looked within reach at press time.
Elliott said the surge is “just about perfect” for coinciding with the traditional peak of sport fish effort in late July. “We want to encourage angling.”
The one-day count of 9,967 sockeye through the fish dam July 18 is second only to a high mark of 12,250 reds through the weir in one day – on July 20 last year.
Elliott said it was hard to determine why the run has been arriving in such huge pulses. “Hot weather throws off migratory timing, but I can’t say that’s involved in this case.”
The state had used an emergency order to stop sport harvest of sockeye on the Chilkoot River last week. “The emergency order allows us to put on restrictions and quickly remove them as we learn more. I’m psyched we could push it through so fast. It usually takes a while,” Elliott said.
Chilkoot campground host Bob Deck said the harvest closure had reduced traffic at the state wayside, but that it already seemed to be picking up Monday night.