Salmon Management

Salmon season at our camp is managed based on the “escapement” of key salmon runs at several different rivers. The state of Alaska carefully counts salmon ascending Dog Salmon Creek and at Upper Station, which is at a point downstream from Olga Lakes. These two locations allow counting of the major Red Salmon runs in our district. ADFG opens fishing when enough fish have passed the counting sites, or “escaped” the sea lions, whales, and fishing fleet that try to catch them in the ocean. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has set both lower and upper escapement goals for each of the key Red Salmon runs that pass our district, and when the escapement is at or ahead of the goal, fishing is opened. In the Alitak District where we fish, four runs of Reds are monitored to determine when fishing will be open. These are the early and late runs at Upper Station headed for Olga Lakes, and early and late runs at Dog Salmon Creek, headed for Frazier Lake. In even-numbered years the district run of Pinks is also used to adjust fishing periods.

One of the interesting features of a salmon run is that there can actually be too many salmon returning to a particular run. This is particularly true of Red (Sockeye) Salmon, which can return to spawn in excessive numbers. When too many salmon return to a spawning ground, the later-arriving salmon disturb the nests of earlier spawners, and the over-abundant Red Salmon will disturb the eggs of other species. The result can be damage to early runs caused by later runs, and a reduction in the number of salmon that will return in subsequent years. As a result of this, Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets upper escapement goals for runs, particularly for Red Salmon runs, and thus catching some of the returning salmon can actually be beneficial to the overall health of the salmon runs. Many of the salmon we catch are excess fish not needed to maintain a healthy population, and in fact they could damage the overall population if they all managed to reach the spawning ground.