Wild End to the Bristol Bay Season
As the season drew to a close...

As the season drew to a close, we found a pot of gold under this rainbow at Coffee Point

Our last blog was entitled, “Warm Rivers, Modest Runs, Small Fish.” Apparently, we spoke too soon—at least as far as Bristol Bay is concerned. The last day of the Port Moller test fishery, which measures the run headed to Bristol Bay (it usually takes about a week for the sockeye to make it to the rivers in the Bay), was July 10. By this time, the fish have historically dwindled to a trickle.

Not this year, though. In terms of numbers, it might even be possible to argue that the run started after the close of the Port Moller test fishery. Last year, after the July 10th termination of the test fishery, they fished until July 17, resulting in about 3.4 million additional fish or about 12% of the total catch of about 28 million. So far this year, they were still fishing as of the 21st, with almost 18 million having been caught AFTER the test fishery concluded, or about 53% of the total catch of 34 million so far. In other words, more than half of the fish caught in Bristol Bay occurred after the fishery is usually straggling to a close AND the total catch is bigger this year. Wow!

One data point highlights this: On July 17, 2014, the last day of fishing last year, 101,000 fish were caught; on July 17, 2015, the number was 1,661,000—16x greater! Yikes!

The downside of this late run is that some of the fishermen had already left and some of the plants were already winding down operations. However, because E&E’s plants are on the Egegik and Ugashik Rivers (see prior blog) where there is a more consistent stream of fish, we were ready, and the plant kicked into high gear, running pretty much round the clock. Way to go Team Coffee Point! Rumor has it the season ran so late that snow is in the forecast!