Residents who haven’t gotten their subsistence fish can take a deep breath.

Due to a late-season abundance of sockeye returning to Chilkat Lake, subsistence fishing has been extended through Oct. 11.

Commercial fisheries biologist Randy Bachman said subsistence fishing typically ends by October, but this year’s strong return merits allowing fishermen more time to fill their larders.

“When the Chilkat sockeye run is strong like it is, we like to do that. The run typically peaks in September. It’s really peaking this September,” Bachman said. Early this week, 1,600 sockeye per day were passing a sonar counter that tallies fish entering the lake.

Through Monday, 134,000 reds were into Chilkat Lake, where the state’s target escapement is a range of 70,000 to 150,000 sockeye.

The extension was good news for resident Bill Holton. Holton said he typically fishes in the fall because that’s when he gets a break from his job as a carpenter and he fishes the river because he doesn’t have a skiff.

“I was hoping they would extend it. There were a lot of fish in the river Saturday and Sunday and the fish were bright,” Holton said.

The fishery also was extended past September in 2009 and 2013, other years that saw late surges of reds, biologist Bachman said.

It appears that subsistence fishing will be limited to the Chilkat River, however, as fishing in salt water occurs only during commercial fishing openings and the past week’s may be the last commercial opening.

Participation in commercial fishing this week dropped from about 25 boats to a dozen, Bachman said. Many gillnetters fished only a single day, due to a storm that blew in Monday, and the week’s total commercial take appeared to be only 4,000-6,000 pounds.

“If there’s absolutely no interest, we don’t (have an opening),” Bachman said.