The numbers are in, although I think most of us in Alaska knew the gist of things: The salmon runs in 2020 fit the overall theme of the year. They were bleak.
King salmon returns were in the bottom five for harvests since the 1960’s. Sockeye returns were the second lowest since 1962. Coho and pinks were better than the other two species, but they were still down. The numbers coming back for the coho, or silver salmon, ranked 48th, pinks ranked 53rd since 1962.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game is predicting a better return for pink salmon for 2021. Pinks are the only salmon species that Fish & Game forecasts the upcoming return. They are hopeful that Alaska will see an increase in all five species of salmon that return to our waters.
From a personal experience level: For several years now, I have seen a noticeable increase in our group’s salmon harvest in odd years, and a downturn in even years. 2020 fit in with that nonscientific trend, but it was certainly the hardest we worked to fill the freezer in 2020. Luckily, we made up for it with halibut and lingcod.
King salmon are now known to be returning to Alaska waters at a younger age. This means that they are coming back smaller. The factors causing this are still unknown, although increased predation and water temperature are high on the list of suspects. Salmon sharks and orcas certainly take a bite out of the salmon population, and it would be expected that they may gravitate towards the larger salmon, but these predators are hardly new to the Gulf of Alaska and beyond.
I admit that I am hoping for a rebound in the salmon return for 2021.
“If you are old, go by all means, but if you are young, wait. The scenery of Alaska is much grander than anything else of its kind in the world, and it is not wise to dull one’s capacity for enjoyment by seeing the finest first”
— Henry Gannett
The Harriman Alaska Series
“If you are old and want to see the finest scenery in the world, there’s no time like the present. And if you are young, what are you waiting for? Check the ferry timetable, grab a sleeping bag, and go. Stay for a while. Believe me, it could be the event of a lifetime.”
— Mark Adams
Tip of the Iceberg
My little corner of Alaska
On a personal note: I took the second quote’s advice, loading my Labrador Retriever, camping gear and typewriter into a 1974 Ford Bronco, drove across half of the northern U.S, and took the ferry from Bellingham, WA through the Inside Passage to Haines, Alaska, and stayed a while…
In fact, today is the anniversary of my arrival to the State of Alaska.
It has been several events of a lifetime. With a little luck, I expect to have one or two more.
I’ve had this Agfa Billy-Clack #74 camera sitting on the shelf for a while now, but had never sent a roll of film through it.
The Billy-Clack was produced prior to The Second World War, so it’s an 80+ year old piece of equipment. I believe the exact years of production ran from 1934 to 1940.
I had no idea what I was going to get out of it, but I kind of like the results. I shot a roll of black & white film while in Seward, and followed that up with a roll of color in Fairbanks.
The Agfa Billy-Clack #74
The Billy-Clack has a definite “Art-Deco” look to it. The camera itself is as basic as one can get. It has the option of two shutter speeds (1/50, Bulb), three apertures (11,16,22), two view finders (a portrait, and a landscape), and it does have a built in yellow filter that you can slide in place if you so desire. It also has one of the most awkward shutters I have ever used. Still, it was fun to get out and shoot.
Normally, we head down to Seward with the idea that we may get one day of fishing in with decent seas. This year, we went down knowing we had perfect weather for the entire time on the coast.
The second day out, we hit the silvers early and often outside of Resurrection Bay. Once we hit our limit there, we came into the Bay for the possibility of three more silvers each. The fishing within Resurrection Bay was considerably slower, but we did catch some cohos.
Since we were planning on being out on the water all day, we wrapped things up by going after rock fish. It took us a couple of stops to find them, but when we did, it was nonstop action. Rock fish are a blast to fish, and they are incredible eating too.
It was a great day out on the water, and I have a nicely stocked freezer as winter approaches.