2015 saw a wildly unpredictable salmon season in Bristol Bay. A massive pre-season prediction of 54 million Sockeye had the bay buzzing with even more anticipation and manpower than ever before. The unseasonably warm winter and spring had fishermen (including our crew) anticipating an early and large salmon run, with extra gear and crew at the ready. We brought up two more crew members than last year, hung extra nets, and purchased another truck in Seattle shortly before the season and had it barged up to our camp in Ekuk, all in anticipation of a huge catch. The pre-season was busy with the usual, piecing together the broken gear from the previous season, repairs and improvements on cabins and trucks, and preparing all of our equipment for the start of the season. Our only major crisis was around our nets, as we had paid a local to 'hang' (rebuild with new catching mesh) them after last season, and he charged us for the work, but he must have just forgotten to actually perform the work...or something like that. A few flights to Dillingham and back, and the help of a couple of local young twin girls who are lightning fast net hangers, allowed us to have our nets ready by the time fishing started.
The weather remained very warm, as high as 91deg., and the fishing got off to a slow start around the 21st of June, but anticipation was still very high. Three weeks of hot weather and very poor fishing followed, and fisherman bay-wide were vocal in their disappointment of a 'bust' season, and disapproval of the biologist's prediction of huge returns. We saw our first moderate volume of fish in the Nushagak District on the 12th of June, for approximately 5 tides, and it was quick to fade back to lackluster fishing. Many fishermen viewed this small push of salmon as, "the run" and began to make plans to leave the bay, and a disappointingly poor season by any measure. With processors sending people home, and fishermen packing up their boats and gear, on the 18th of July, the biologist's predicted volumes of fish finally arrived, albeit much later than anticipated. Record shattering fishing ensued with million-fish harvests for many days in a row, overwhelming fishermen, tender boats and processor facilities across the bay. The estimated total return in 2015 is around 51 million Sockeye, and is among the highest ever recoded in Bristol Bay.
We planned our season around the dates that have been historically successful for us, and were among the crews that departed the bay around the 13th of July, due to other job obligations. We missed the huge volumes of salmon, but the warm weather and a good crew made for a fun season.
We have received the latest batch of Sockeye Salmon here in CO, and look forward to showing it to you, it's some of the best quality fillets we've ever had.
Thanks for your continued support of our business, and responsibly managed wild fisheries.
Your fisherman & friend,
Educate & Donate: savebristolbay.org
Help us protect one of the world's greatest natural resources, and wild salmon fisheries. Eat Wild Alaska Salmon.