Fish and Game says the Chilkat River chinook salmon run is expected to meet the target for a healthy population once the numbers are crunched.

The department set the escapement goal — the number of adult fish that are counted returning to the river during the spawning season — between 1,750 and 3,500. The number is expected to come in around 2,200.

“It was a pretty good run this year,” said Brian Elliott, a fisheries biologist for Fish and Game. “We did meet escapement, which was a pleasant surprise based on our lower river tagging.”

The run came into the about a week behind schedule this year, similar to many other areas in Alaska, but arrived at their spawning grounds in early August as usual.

But Elliott said a trend of relatively younger chinook is “a little concerning.” Chinook generally take five to six years before returning to their breeding grounds. In the last few years, the runs have been dominated by five-year-olds, which are generally smaller than six year olds.

“We’ve also had really high capture rates for three-year-old Jacks and also four-year-olds were in high abundance,” said Elliott.

The runs have also been dominated by younger male fish, which Elliott said could mean trouble for reproductive rates in the future.

“Females are really what drives a spawning population — they put the eggs in the gravel,” he said.

Data on how many chinook were harvested during the commercial season haven’t been reported yet, Elliott said.