Southeast Alaska winter king salmon landings up from last year but still below average

Boats at the dock in Sitka Harbor in November 2019. Winter chinook landings are up from last year, but below 5- and 10-year averages. (Photo by Ari Snider/KCAW)

Southeast Alaska’s winter troll season for king salmon has gotten off to a little better start in 2019.

Commercial landings and number of fish caught are up from last year. However, both still lag behind five and 10-year averages for this point in the season.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign was the opening price of $12 per pound. Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Grant Hagerman says that’s the highest starting point on record.

“At this time last year the price had increased over the first month and it was just under 12,” Hagerman said. “So it’s pretty similar to last year. But starting out at $12 is the highest that we’ve had on record.”

Hagerman suspects the price may be a simple case of supply and demand following a less productive summer season.

“With a lower abundant year, I think with just catch ceilings throughout the west coast down for the summer fishery, there may not have been as much fish hitting that market in the summertime,” he said. “And so there might be more of a demand for these winter kings now.”

Over 5,700 chinook have been caught so far. District  13 — off the west coast of Baranof Island — has seen the highest number in Southeast, with close to 2,000 fish.

The average weight of 11.5 pounds is consistent with the 10-year average.

Effort is also up this year across Southeast, with 188 permits compared to 141 at this time last year.

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