First Fall Chums Heading up Yukon River

The first fall chums are heading up the Yukon River. Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jeff Estensen says the run, which began on the lower Yukon last week, is expected to be stronger than recent years.

Estensen says the fall chum run is below average but better than 2009 and 2010, when it was around 500,000 fish. He says there’s a strong correlation between summer and fall chum runs on the Yukon, and the summer run was relatively strong.

Estensen says strong chum runs on the Kuskowim and to Norton Sound also have managers optimistic about the fall run on the Yukon.  He says the Yukon’s weak king salmon return is nearly over, and will not affect fall chum management. The fall fish are bigger, and have more fat, than summer chums.  The early fish have subsistence and commercial value, while later fish are harvested for dog food.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.