Local News

Trolling extended for big coho run

A big run of coho salmon in Southeast Alaska means commercial trollers have an extension of the summer fishing season.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced a 10-day extension for the troll fleet, with fishing remaining open through September 30th. Fish and Game is projecting a coho return of 5.7 million fish this year.

“Both the wild projection and the commercial catch are definitely above average, well above average, second only to 1994 and that was the year when the coho run was the largest on record,” said Pattie Skannes, Fish and Game’s troll management biologist for Southeast. “We don’t expect our harvest this year will come close to that of 1994. During that year we had higher effort and we also did not have trollers targeting other species such as chum for part of the summer.”

Photo by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska

The record commercial catch for all gear groups in 1994 was 5.5 million coho. Fish and Game projects the all-gear catch this year will hit 3.3 million.

Skannes said coho landed by the troll fleet are average size this year. “Unlike the most recent years when they were very small, the coho average weights have increased steadily throughout the summer. Right now they are, last week’s average weight was 6.8 pounds and the average price was $1.90 (a pound) and both have gone up steadily throughout the season.”

Troll-caught coho ready for delivery in Cross Sound. August, 2013.

Trolling was scheduled to close on September 20th but the season can be extended if enough fish are making it back to spawn.

Coho haven’t been the only target species for trollers this summer. The fleet harvested over 1.1 million chum salmon this year, a new high mark for troll caught chums in the region. The summer also saw a directed pink salmon fishery in lower Chatham Strait with a small portion of the fleet targeting humpies. “Over a five week period they took close to half of the total taken for the whole year,”Skannes said. “So far trollers have caught about 684-thousand pinks and so roughly half of that or close to half of that was taken during the five weeks in lower Chatham.”

Pink and chum salmon are typically lower value and higher volume fish, targeted by the region’s net fishing fleets. However, the record setting pink return, strong coho numbers and healthy hatchery chum returns have helped make up for the troll fleet’s normal target catch, king salmon. The summer season had only one short six-day opening for Chinook salmon at the start of July, the fewest days open for king fishing since 1992. The fleet will be able to keep king salmon again starting October 11th with the opening of the winter season.

Recent News

PHS science team prepares for statewide competition

Members of Petersburg's Ocean Science Bowl team at practice. From left: Helen Martin, Chauncy Sandhoffer, Tucker Hagerman, Charlie Christensen, Julia Murph, Anders Christensen. Photo/Angela Denning
The high school students are working on two 15-page research papers for a statewide competition. The Alaska Tsunami Bowl, an academic competition, will take place in Seward at the end of February. more

Petersburg officials discuss retaining Coast Guard cutter

The Petersburg-based Coast Guard cutter Anacapa (photo courtesy USCG)
Petersburg officials are hoping to discuss ways to keep a Coast Guard cutter stationed in this Southeast community. Petersburg’s borough assembly wants to talk about changes to the waterfront to accommodate newer, larger patrol vessels, and it’s part of a discussion going on up and down Alaska’s coastline. more