Chinook catch falls short in first Southeast troll opening

A troller leaves the anchorage in the early hours of the morning to start a day of fishing during the July 2021 king salmon opener. (Berett Wilber/KCAW)

Southeast’s commercial troll catch of king salmon fell short of its target in the first summer opening in July. The fleet gets another shot at those chinook in a second fishing period starting Friday, Aug. 13.

The region’s king salmon catch is managed under the Pacific Salmon Treaty between the U.S. and Canada. Commercial trollers had 119,300 fish remaining on this year’s allocation under that agreement going into the summer season. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game aims for a harvest of 70% of that in July. But this year the catch was around 69,000 chinook from an eight-day opening, short of the target of 83,500.

That leaves a target of 53,000 for the second opening. Fish and Game expects it could take seven to 10 days for the fleet to hit that mark.

Before that, though, trolling shuts down in much of the region to allow some coho salmon to reach the inside waters of Southeast, from Aug. 8 to 12. Fishing is still allowed in a few hatchery chum areas during that time.

Trollers, like other gear groups, are seeing high prices for their fish this summer.

Fish and Game reports average prices of $6.68 for kings. Coho have averaged $2.67 and chum 91 cents a pound.

The kings, coho and chum that trollers are catching are smaller in size than recent averages.

Joe Viechnicki is a reporter at KFSK in Petersburg.

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