Nushagak River update 7/7/21
What we know and what we don’t know about the salmon runs could fill one of the Alumaweld boats in our fleet. What we do know is that there are plenty of sockeye and kings around to harvest and our guests are loving their Alaska vacations. This is in part because of our excellent fishing but probably more so because our guides and staff shine brightly at every turn.
I have fished for a decade on this river; first annually as a client, then becoming part of the community in the last few years—investing time and resources to build a “destination” that is inarguably the nicest place in the area. There is no doubt that I have witnessed firsthand changes to this fishery. My summations are based on cumulative data from our guides, other camps and friends on the river plus the ADFG local staff who observe what they can at every level.
It’s no secret that the king numbers are down and the average adult king size appears to have diminished over time. 100,000 was the 15-year average not too long ago but these last three years have adjusted the median significantly. On Independence Day 2021 the sonar numbers on The Nush for cumulative kings were just under 35k, and today they are just over 45,000—still below the minimum escapement of 55k but creeping towards it. The area biologists remain optimistic that the data collected at that level only paints part of the picture. One thought is that there are more sockeye-sized kings in the river than known these past three years and they are hoping that some of the data collection they can obtain will prove this thesis.
It certainly makes things hard to manage. But there is a bigger issue at hand on the downturn of king fisheries worldwide, and we can’t ignore it. To the handful of naysayers exclaiming “what happened to this river; it is ruined?” I would ask where their present day perspective comes from. Because guests limiting on the state mandated allowance of kings and more sockeye than can fill their 50-pound boxes defies their logic. The giant smiles on all these faces and the stream of “thank you for a first-class operation” notes flooding in from clients who were just here makes it hard for us to comprehend that negative notion. Last week we released three 40-inch kings. The Nush is still a healthy river. The sockeye run is astounding with over 4 millions reds entering The Nush, a couple hundred thousand yesterday alone! Kings and sockeye continue to push by the lodge in significant numbers making this summer as good as it gets.
The Nushagak River is a prime salmon fishery with all five Pacific salmon species: Chinook, coho, sockeye, chum, and pink. Granted most of our guests come to target kings, sockeye and silvers, but the added benefit of chum and pinks during the midseason keeps it fun. The river is also graced with Northern pike, which we target from time to time. Upriver mostly, one can find rainbow trout, grayling, and Dolly Varden trout.
Nushagak Report 7/3/21
Today was another great day on The Nush. Guest Ryan Keel caught the largest freshwater fish of his 41 years becoming the first 2021 member of the 40-inch Club at the lodge. The 15-minute battle had the king rounding the boat several times as Ryan fought to keep it away from the motor. Fishing guide Erin Schoen netted the monster 42-inch king, boated to shore, and jumped in to safely release this fish. For an angler to enter into our 40-inch club the fish must be released to perpetuate the strong genes. We are proud of these exceptional conscientious anglers and their care of these fish!
Nushagak Fishing Report 6/30/21
We have touched some nice kings this year. Guests are regularly fishing for kings and able to harvest the two they’re allowed per year. There is a huge amount of sockeye in the system. ADFG opens up the limit to 10 sockeye per day. We are grateful for this opportunity to harvest salmon.
Nushagak Fishing Report 6/27/21
After some wild wind these last few days we are seeing consistently good king and sockeye fishing. Guests are super happy with the fishing, the facility and the fantastic hospitality. It’s great to be out here on The Nush.
Nushagak Fishing Report 2021 6/25/21
We had a significant storm on 6/22-23. Clients inbound and outbound were locked in for an extra day at the lodge or in Dillingham. The winds were pushing 50 knots, so there were whitecaps on the river making it too dangerous to fish from the boats. The bright side of that is the storm provided just the push that the kings and sockeye needed to leave Nushagak bay, where they were gathered by the thousands, to swim to the Wood and Nushagak Rivers. The evening before last 2,200 kings and 26,000 red salmon entered the river with fish flowing in all day yesterday.
We said goodbye to a dozen guests and welcomed a dozen new. The fresh guests in camp limited out on kings in only a couple of hours and then were able to limit on sockeye in a couple more. The river is on fire!
That said, we also received notice of an Alaska Department of Fish & Game emergency order (EO) for the Nushagak king salmon sport fishery while the commercial fishing fleet, received an advisory announcement. The emergency order reduces the bag, possession, and annual limits for king salmon, 20 inches or greater in length, in the waters of the Nushagak-Mulchatna drainage to one per day and in possession, 20 inches or greater in length, with an annual limit of two fish effective on June 27. The bag and possession limit for king salmon under 20 inches in length remains at five fish; no annual limit. Up to two king salmon recorded before Sunday, June 27, 2021, on the harvest portion of an Alaska sport fishing license or harvest record card do not count against the two king salmon, 20 inches or greater in length, that may be harvested on or after June 27.
Nushagak River Notes 6/24/21:
A big push of kings and sockeye have entered the river after a big storm making today’s fishing outstanding. Boats are limited out on kings and now our guests line our banks in front of the lodge catching sockeye! It’s a great day to be in Bristol Bay bringing you this Nushagak fishing report 2021.
Nushagak River Notes 6/23/21:
Sockeye are here!
Nushagak River Notes 6/22/21:
We are experiencing intermittent large fish in the boat. Each day there are kings caught, but not in the numbers that we normally expect during the Summer Solstice week. Commercial fishing started in the eastern part of Bristol Bay (Naknek River) but we do not think it will start at the Nushagak River for two more days. The weather is turning and the wind is picking up, which can have a profound effect on king movement, so we are hoping to see a good push of fish into the river.