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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 30, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Pacific Salmon Commission update on Fraser River sockeye returns

Here is the latest Pacific Salmon Commission news release from July 25 on the state of summer sockeye headed to the Fraser River in southern British Columbia:

The Fraser River Panel met July 25 to review assessment data on Fraser River sockeye salmon.

The migration of sockeye through marine and lower Fraser River assessment areas as well as past the Mission hydroacoustic site has been modest over the past week.

In particular, sockeye catches in the Area 20 gillnet test fishery have been lower than anticipated over the past week.

The observer at Hells Gate has reported steady sockeye migration over the past several days with fish being in good condition.

DNA analysis of a fish sample collected from a recent Area 20 gillnet test fishery indicated Fraser sockeye contributions of approximately 4% Early Stuart, 31% Early Summer-run, and 61% Summer-run sockeye. Summer-run proportions to date have been dominated by Harrison stock at 53% in the most recent sample.

At the meeting, the run-size estimate of 240,000 Early Stuart sockeye was unchanged. The estimated 50% marine migration timing of Early Stuart sockeye through Area 20 continues to be July 9, which is 2 days later than the final pre-season forecast of July 7 and 5 days later than the long-term median timing of July 4.

Further updates to the in-season estimates of Early Stuart run size and timing are unlikely. The estimated escapement of Early Stuart sockeye past Mission through July 24 is 205,000 fish.

Assessments of Early Summer-run sockeye abundance are ongoing. Most components of the Early Summer-run group have been represented in samples from marine and in-river test fisheries.

Data from marine test fisheries collected to date are consistent with the later timing observed in Early Stuart sockeye, and the forecast for a later-timed Chilko stock.

Early Summer-run sockeye run-size estimates should be available in early August after their peak migration through marine areas. The estimated escapement of Early Summer-run sockeye past Mission through July 24 is 97,000 fish.

On July 24, the Fraser River water discharge at Hope was 4,903 cms, which is near average for this date. The temperature of the Fraser River at Qualark Creek on July 24 was 17.1C, which is average for this date. After reviewing environmental and stock assessment information at today’s meeting, the Panel approved a decrease in the management adjustment factor for Early Stuart sockeye from 2.12 to 1.96. No further changes are expected to be made to the Early Stuart management adjustment following today’s meeting, as current estimates are based on a full complement of observed temperature and flow data. Management adjustments are additional fish that are allowed to escape upstream to help achieve spawning escapement targets for Fraser River sockeye.

Details of DFO’s Fraser sockeye spawner enumeration plans have been posted on the DFO website ( The Early Stuart escapement assessment program has begun. Regular in-season progress reports will be provided by DFO, starting July 31.

Enforcement and catch monitoring patrols in the mid-Fraser upstream of Hells Gate have noted very few reports of holding or distressed fish. Overall, sockeye encountered incidentally have been reported in good condition. A recent rain event in the BC interior and cooler air temperatures have resulted in cooler water temperatures in many areas including the Nechako River.

At the meeting on Tuesday, July 22, the Area 12 and 20 purse seine test fisheries were re-scheduled to start on Friday, July 25 due to later migration timing of Fraser sockeye stocks than expected pre-season.

The Pacific Salmon Commission reports daily test fishing catches of sockeye salmon on its recorded message at 604-666-8200 and on the internet at:





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