Chum runs on Kuskokwim River are late and low

A mottled green and purple salmon swims up the water with most of its back exposed.
A returning Chum Salmon at the Suquamish Tribe’s Grovers Creek Hatchery. (K. King/USFWS)

Salmon runs continue to be late and low this year. First the kings, then the chums; now the coho appear to be late coming up the Kuskokwim River. Usually Aug. 7 is the midpoint of the coho run, but this year it was not until Aug. 8 that numbers at the Bethel test fishery increased, and then only modestly. Managers now predict that the final catch will be below average. 

RELATED: Low salmon numbers close subsistence fishing on the Yukon

The king, chum, and sockeye runs are mostly over, and the catch per unit effort for all those species was below the 2008 through 2019 average.

The only bright part of the season was the return of red, or sockeye salmon, to Telaquana Lake. As of Aug. 9, a total of 160,861 sockeye had been observed past the weir, the third largest return on record for the lake. 

Johanna Eurich is a contributor for the Alaska Public Radio Network.

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