Cordova disaster?

cordova good times

The Cordova harbor stuffed with gillnetters/Alaska Airlines photo

This story has been updated

The Copper River commercial salmon fishery remain closed on Monday and with the return of Alaska’s pound-for-pound most valuable salmon looking a failure, most of the regions’ 535 commercial permit holders looked to have headed for Prince William Sound to fish chums.

Much of the fleet was reported to be fishing in the Esther Island area in hopes of earning some profit on $1.10 per pound chum salmon, a weak replacement for highly valued Copper kings and sockeyes.

Favored fad-fish of high-scale restaurants, Copper sockeye had a reported price on their heads of $8.50 to $9.50 per pound when the season opened, and everything looked good-to-go despite a below-average, pre-season sockeye forecast.

Alaska Airlines put on its now classic show of flying the first of the fish fresh to Seattle. And Seattle media duly turned out to report “the arrival of fresh Copper River king and sockeye salmon is a rite of spring in Seattle where the fish are prized for their flavor,” as KOMO-TV had it. 

Only one problem, the fish didn’t cooperate. The king salmon, which come in the thousands were off the mouth of the Copper, but the sockeye, which come in the tens of thousands, weren’t.

About 40,000 of the latter were expected to be caught on the first opening of the fishery on May 17. The actual catch was 1,900. The next scheduled fishing period was closed.

When the fishery finally opened again on May 21, the expected catch was 80,000. Fishermen caught 3,900. The next scheduled fishing period was closed.

Fishermen are optimists. They have to be or they drive themselves mad. They put the poor fishing off to a late sockeye return. They cited colder than normal waters flowing out of a drainage the size of Maine that saw a lot of snow in the mountains over the winter.

Fishery managers are pessimists. They have to be or overly optimistic commercial fishermen will talk them into overfishing everything. They started worrying.

The May 28 opening produced a catch of 20,000 sockeye. Fishermen were buoyed by  a daily harvest almost four times that of the first two periods combined. The next scheduled fishing period was closed anyway.

Fishery managers saw only a catch about a fifth of what it should have been, plus a pair of sonar counters in the river showing a serious lack of fish.

Losing money

At $9.50 per pound, the smallish, 5-pound-average sockeye caught to date would be worth about $1.2 million. The high prices have helped to make up for a portion, though not all, of the loss associated with the weak run.

But prices aren’t expected to stay high much longer with a lot of other fresh Alaska salmon soon to come on the market. And there is no real sign of a big improvement in the return.

The 20,000 sockeye catch Thursday was not followed by a big burst of fish into the river on Friday or Saturday. Overall, not much changed other than the passage of a few more days with below expected numbers of fish entering the river. That just makes the situation worse.

All Copper River fishermen can do now is hope for a bit of a miracle. Salmon runs do sometimes show up late in Alaska.

Historically, however, the runs to the Copper River are either building rapidly by June 1 – either in harvest or in-river – or they are in trouble.

Some fishermen are now hoping the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corpration will help bail out their season. PWSAC forecast a return of 3.1 million chum to the Wally Noerenberg Hatchery on Esther Island.

The hatchery has reserved 656,000 fish for cost-recovery and broodstock, but that leaves almost 2.5 million for commercial fishermen to battle over. If prices hold, those fish could be worth up to $24 million.

A Whittier-based PWS drifter texted that he’d seen Cordova-based boats that never leave the Copper River flats making sets in the area Monday morning. The good news for fishermen there was that the 18,000 chums caught in the first fishery opening near the end of last week were twice the size of the local sockeye at 8.6 pounds.

Sockeye everywhere appear to be running small this year, leading to concerns about ocean food problems.  

Rocky forecasts

Last year a low return of king salmon was forecast to return to the Cooper River. The forecast caused a bit of chaos, and the biologists turned out to badly wrong on their projection.

Before the season began this year, a 16.5 percent below average sockeye return was forecast, but the projection of 1.7 million fish should have left 700,000 or more available to the commercial fishery.

The in-river goal for the water upstream from the gillnet fleet was set at 644,000 to 1 million. It is now looking like the river might have trouble making the bottom end of that range.

If returns continue to track Fish and Game’s pre-season projections as they have since mid-May, the in-river count as of today would come to about 283,000 sockeye. The state’s projected Saturday return, based on decades of data, predicted it as the peak day for the sockeye return.

And it was the biggest day this year.

Just shy of 10,000 sockeye made it into the river. The problem is that the daily return amounted to only about 59 percent of the almost 17,000 projected for June 2.

Still, that was an improvement. The day before the return was only 45 percent of the projection; the day before that, 51 percent.

This is how it has gone since mid-May despite the already seriously shortened commercial season and an unusually low commercial catch totaling 25,935 sockeye.

Other harvests

Cordova-based commercial fishing permit holders, about 20 percent of whom admit to being non-residents, aren’t the only ones who count on these Copper sockeye.

Upriver, the fish tumble into the fish wheels of Alaskan subsistence fishermen and the dipnets of personal-use fishermen, and a few get caught by rod-and-reel, many of those held by tourists who spend a lot of money to come fish Alaska.

The preseason, state management plan set aside 130,500 fish for the Alaskan-only, personal-use fishery, 77,000 for the subsistence fishery, and 15,000 for rod-and-reel sport fishermen. That, along with 20,000 in broodstock for a Gulkana River hatchery, and a minimum 360,000 for spawning needs are part of the state’s in-river goal of 644,000 to 1 million for the Copper this year.

The state’s run projection for the year is built around the lower end of that goal. It called for 127,182 sockeye in-river by Saturday. The actual count stood at 55,840.

The Copper saw an even lower return by June 2 in 2013, but that return didn’t start until May 29, and it was preceded by record or near-record catches off the mouth of the river.

By June 1, 2103, the daily return was up to 21,000 , and the commercial fishery had caught 586,000 sockeye. State fisheries managers say there is no precedent for a year like this with both the catch and the in-river return so low.

The total return – sonar-counted fish plus dead fish – by this date in 2013 was more than 630,000 fish. The combined number this year is less than 82,000.

The fish could still come, but at this point it looks like an uphill battle to meet the lower end of the in-river goal. The popular Chitina dipnet fishery, which had been scheduled to open Thursday and run through the weekend, has been reduced to a 24-hour fishery from noon Saturday through noon Sunday.

The fishery is scheduled to reopen June 11 and continue 24-hours-per-day through the rest of June, but that appears unlikely. Further restrictions are almost certain to come by emergency order this week.

Fishery managers don’t have much choice. Though the spawning goal – or escapement as it is commonly called by fishery managers and fishermen – has a range of 360,000 to 750,000, fishery managers try to shoot for at least the middle of the range for safety.

There might soon be other fishermen joining those of Cordova on the beach.


CORRECTION: An early version of this story miscalculated the number of non-residents who hold drift gillnet permits and the ex-vessel value of the potential chum catch.








46 replies »

  1. The counter showed another marked increase today 14,666, and again 6 am count was higher than yesterday. Actual cumulative is tracking on a similar slope on graph to anticipated, but 5 days behind. Craig I am not sure where you get your numbers but in the last 10 years half the fleet averaged less than 40,000 gross 5 out of 10 years. Also there were plenty of times in between 1995 and 2006 that the fleet average was less than 50,000 many times. I figure if your boat and permit is paid for expenses for gilnetting including gas,maintance, storage,supplies, fish tax ,Moorage , 1 new net for 6 grand is around 35 if you lose an engine another 20, and if you are making payments on a package another 30k Most everyone has a crew to pay.Small percentage of highliners 10 to 12% do a lot better as always. The learning curve is steep, and it ain’t easy. If you do make a profit 15% of that goes to self employment tax.Not to mention federal income tax.

    • Fish count at Miles Lake sonar is increasing, though the actual cumulative is 80K behind the anticipated minimum cumulative, at this date in time.
      When fish hit the outer barrier islands, they are between 5-7 days from passing counter. If you look at the ADF&G escapement graph, historical data, shows drop off of fish count, after June 10th. My point is, that 16-20k fish should be passing sonar, during this time period.
      If current trend continues, we will be lucky to achieve the SEG on CR sockeye, this season.
      We can all pray and hope, to see a large uptick in fish count, next couple days, though I would not bet any money on it. Let us hope I am wrong!
      This week is critical for the last part of early CR sockeye return. After this weekend, the early run is historically over and the Delta stocks, become prominent component of return.

      • Well James, at this point its anybody’s guess whether/not delta run was harmed like the early run. Any talk about F & G having some ideas about what happened to early run?
        Just a guess but I wouldn’t be surprised that some have had reasons to suspect just such a problem-these things are never hashed out prior to the actual run failure (many of these tend to be hatchery failures but not all).

      • one can hope, Paul. but this run is showing no indications of looking at all like 2013.
        in 2013, there was a sockeye catch of 82,000 on May 16. another 190,000 were caught on May 20. the counter at that time was low.
        ADF&G shut the next scheduled period. when it reopened, there was a catch of 310,000 sockeye, a Copper River record.
        the sonar started clicking thereafter, too. May 31 – June 3 days were all above the desired projection. the sonar didn’t drop until the fishery was again opened. some more big catches helped hold the escapement down, but then the return overwhelmed even that.
        so if we take the 2013 numbers, we have 686,000 sockeye accounted for by June 4, 2013 – 104,000 in-river and 582,000 dead in the fishery before reaching the river.
        what’s the comparative number for this year?
        82,000 in-river +26,000 harvest = 108,000.
        James could well be right. if we’re looking at a return one-sixth the size of 2013 (582,000/108,000), we’ve got a problem getting enough fish in-river even if the drift fishery remains closed.
        but i’m with you in hoping for a surprise. stranger things have happened.

      • I’ll repeat the Dave Laurentzen rule for big Copper River red run. “It’s big in the beginning, big in the middle and big in the end.”
        I know of no rule of thumb for mediocre or poor red runs on the Copper. It’s always possible that the delta run was not harmed by whatever caused the early run to collapse. That said, if the harm was done in the ocean then it’s quite likely that the delta fish will suffer same fate-but we just don’t know where the harm occurred. Surely F & G has a handle on numbers of fry that exited the river (or tributaries) but I’ve not heard a peep about what they saw back then.

    • Paul, the data shows, that the commercial fleet was fishing, during the time of that fish count escapement in 2013, completely different scenario, from what is happening this season.
      The commercial fleet has only fished three 12 hours openers, since May 17, 2018. During the 2nd opener, it blew 30-35 mph SE, and only 2/3 of fleet fished. Basically, the CR sockeye return has had unheeded passage to the sonar, from the outer barrier islands, and as of yesterday, we were only at 50% of anticipated cumulative.
      Yes, the fish count could miraculously increase, during next couple days, though it seems unlikely. I say again, if fish count does not increase dramatically, over next 5 days, this run is done.

      • I checked the most recent posting of fish count passage, this morning, and it is actually down a little, from yesterday. Still tracking below anticipated daily count.
        We will be blessed to achieve our SEG on CR sockeye in 2018, and at same time, provide opportunity for the upriver users. Remember subsistence is top priority and the Glennallen subsistence fishwheels and others. can only be restricted, by the feds.

      • No, the feds are not the only agency that can make restriction to subsistence fishery in the glennallen sub district.

      • AFB,
        The Federal Glennallen & Chitna sub districts, are both a federal subsistence fishery, which is managed by the federal subsistence board. Yes, a state rural resident can get a State subsistence permit, for the same area, though why would they, when the feds allow up to 500 fish per family from the fish wheel, and no restrictions on chinook.
        Yes, the State can restrict the permits they issue, when fish passage is low, reason why majority of rural area residents, opt for the fed permit. Got that?
        Also, the State can and does make recommendations to the feds, when there is conservation issue, though, as usual the feds do what they want.

      • A state resident can get a state subsistence permit. a resident does not have to be rural. There is no limit on kings on the state permit and a limit of 500 for sockeye same as the feds. Get a permit and come use the wheel.hehe

      • AFB,
        The Federal Glennallen & Chitna sub districts, are both a federal subsistence fishery, which is managed by the federal subsistence board. Yes, a state rural resident can get a State subsistence permit, for the same area, though why would they, when the feds allow up to 500 fish per family from the fish wheel, and no restrictions on chinook.
        Yes, the State can restrict the permits they issue, when fish passage is low, reason why majority of rural area residents, opt for the fed permit. Got that?
        Also, Yes, the State can and does make recommendations to the feds, when there is conservation issue, though, as usual the feds do what they want.

      • JM, A federal subsistence fish wheel permit for the Glennallen sub. dist. are for those who are qualified federal subsistence users. This permit has a little earlier start date then the state subsistence permit.The State Glennallen sub. dist. subsistence fish wheel permits can be issued to any state resident, regardless of their zip code. Both federal and state permits for fish wheels have the same limit of 500 salmon.
        5 AAC 01.630 (2)
        5 AAC 01.545 (B)
        So the only difference between a federal subsistence fish wheel permit and the state”s is the feds have any early start time. but who cares, there usually is more ice than fish at that time of year.

  2. The 2018 Copper River early run sockeye fishery for the commercial fleet is over. Historically, after June 5th the early run has peaked and the beginning of the Delta run has started.
    There are 545 Area E PWS/CR drift permits.
    73% of said permits, are held by Alaskan residents. The fish dollars paid to fishers, are multiplied by 4 times, as they go through the communities and municipalities of Cordova, Valdez, Whittier, Seward, Tatitlek, Chenega, Homer and even Anchorage.
    Probably 150 fishers, stayed in Cordova, praying for a miracle, today. Not going to happen! 1/2 of drift fleet went over to Esther, for the chum opener today.
    The Flats, are closed indefinitely, and may not open, and worst case scenario, until late June, when majority of run has returned.
    The saving grace, is the WHN & MB hatcheries (PWSAC), which will help salvage, whatever is left of the drift fisher’s season.
    I have drift fished in PWS/CR, based out of Cordova, since 1976. We have had a number of seasons, where you are lucky to go home, with money in your pocket.
    I am not whining here, I am just really tired of the perception, that commercial fishers are getting rich, and taking all the money to the lower 48.
    What a crock! The 545 drift fishers are all hard working blue collar workers, trying to support their families, the communities they live in and the State, that gives them that opportunity to fish.
    God bless them all!

    • On another note, a decent return of 2018 Chinooks are headed upriver, to be available to upriver users. The fish wheels in the Glennallen subsistence fishery, should have no issue getting their share.

    • thanks for the catch, James. i corrected the story.
      the actual NR number of permit holders is more like 21 percent. i used the ratio of NR residents to rural permits holder (mostly Cordova folk) and not total permit holders when doing math in a state of illness and fatigue.
      not whining. just stating the fact.
      now, how many of those permit holders are non-residents claiming to be Alaskans is another question. there is a fair bit of that which goes on in this state, as i’m sure you know, and unless someone files illegally for a PFD, it tends to get overlooked.
      CFEC has the state official number of permits at 534 as of 2016. all of which can be found by following the link in the story. the earnings per permit (also in the CFEC report) range from $116,000 down $64,000 since 2010.
      it’s doubtful anybody is getting rich, but a few highliners seem to be doing damn good.
      the averages per permit look good, but when you figure in the cost of maintaining a boat (expensive, used to live on a bluewater sailboat) and gear, it’s not much.
      some similarities there with the oil industry, which always looks to be making a shitload of money but needs a shitload of money to find and produce new oil to stay in business.
      multipliers are one of the most debated issues in economics. won’t even go there.
      the hatcheries are a saving grace when the salmon come back. if they don’t…
      well, ask Weyerhauser about that experiment.
      it’s been a long time since Cordova has had a bad year. you have to go back to 1983 to find a year when average real earnings per permit dropped below $50,000 per year. the fishery hasn’t always been great, but it’s certainly been better than Cook Inlet.
      2016 at $64,421 might have actually be the worst year in a while. the $43,172 in ’83 would be worth over $110,000 now when you correct for inflation. the average since 1976 is $74,094.
      here’s the link to the CFEC data again if you or anyone want to look:
      commercial fishermen owes the rest of Alaskans a big thank you for paving the wave for limited entry, but they often don’t seem very grateful. why is that?
      and you’re whining.
      there is, however, nothing wrong with whining. this year sucks. i empathize. i’d be whining.
      fishermen are hard working. i agree. no argument there.
      they are also doing something they like to do, and they are there own bosses. both make hard work a hell of a lot easier.
      commercial fishermen sometimes remind me way too much of too many journalists; they think they’re special because of what they do. they’re not.
      they’re lucky. they get to partake of a job they enjoy. and, better yet, if they decide they don’t enjoy it they can sell that permit and get a nice buyout.
      this country is full of people with shitty jobs who’d gladly trade for that deal.
      i’m hoping your wrong about the Copper. i’m hoping we at some point see a big burst of fish and get a late peak. but my gut tells me your projection is right, which isn’t good for anyone. there’s likely to be a lot of whining upriver.
      and i’m a little surprised that only 1/2 the drift fleet went to Esther. people i heard from out Esther way thought ever drifter in Sound was there. but then we get awfully used to having a lot of space in ths state. we’re spoiled.

      • Thanks Craig, and yes a $76K average looks pretty good on paper, though that is gross dollars:
        You need to minus irs tax, $10-18K fuel, nets, storage, moorage, supplies and maintenance, which then gives you a net profit. I have always figured in 40-45% expenses for my fishing business. The season runs historically from May 15th-end September. To make the average gross amount, one needs to put in the time and energy, while competing with other fishers. It is not for the faint of heart.
        Working for the state, Feds, Alyeska or other any other company, that comes with a nice salary, pension, vacation pay, sick pay, health benefits and no expenses, looks pretty good, from my standpoint. A commercial fisher has none of these perks. They have to pay for them out of there gross earnings.
        I am not whining here, only stating facts.
        By the way, about that limited entry program enacted by the State of Alaska, in 1971-72, guess what? Anyone can purchase a permit, in any of the 10 salmon regions and become a commercial fisher.
        So, if you think we have it so good, join the party.
        Reason why only 50-60% of fleet was at Esther, is that the run has only started, and not a lot of fish to harvest, for the amount of boats there, yet.
        Also, 70 drift permit holders, also have seine permits (dual permit holders), who stayed in town, to work on their seine boat and gear. The VFDA run is only 3 weeks off, and the report is, that pink salmon, have been seen jumping in Fidalgo Bay. The other fishers cannot believe the sockeye run is over, so stayed in town, wishing for a Thursday opener. Not going to happen. This rude awakening is now becoming a harsh reality.
        Could be 1st time all CR users are shutdown, except subsistence. This outcome, will effect everyone, who relies on CR fish for their dinner table.

    • Great conversations/points James and Craig. but what i am taking away from all this is. Career choices. Careers that have that have advantages and disadvantages as all self employed persons endure. But unique to the commercial fishing industry is some of the safety nets(no pun intended) that a career in commercial fishing have. Allocation, distress relief, fisherman fund, ect. Unlike my and Craig’s career choice, we have no allocation or potential bail outs in bad times. The government does not limit how many people can compete in our careers, or give us something to sell, such as a permit. As for myself, i also rely on Alaska wild resources as my career choice. to make a living and feed my family. When wild resources are plentiful and prices are good, i make out rather good. When that does not exist, times are very tough. My industry does not afford me an opportunity of relief from the government or government programs. I own a fur tannery and i am a trapper. Which i could make the analogy, i am a fisherman and own a processor company. But i have no government fall backs. That is my choice and i should no whine.

      • Not true for all careers, Al-namely bar owners and pot farms, etc. Permits are bought and sold regularly and just look at the pissing match that occurred this year relative to brewers being able to sell their products retail that wasn’t especially well-received by bar owners.
        Anyway, State feels the need to have a say in these regulated businesses, for their own reasons, and allocations are necessary in a public resource. Trapping just isn’t lucrative enough that too many try their hand in it and can fairly easily be handled through seasons-sort of like moose hunting.

      • i was not claiming “all” careers. But when it comes to wild resources there is disparity. Just a few short years ago. My 2 pound marten were averaging $200.00 ea. and all of them sold. Today i am getting $68.00 ea. and 1/2 of them did not sell. Yet i have no opportunity to apply for some sort of government relief,when prices fall or demand is down, nor when the population cashes and i have little opportunity to harvest. No matter how long or short the season is.
        Fishing is also done by seasons. Trapping can be quite lucrative. It ebbs and flows just like commercial fishing. There is just way more fish than fur bearers and i can’t use nets just to scoop them up.

      • Well Al, snares are similar to gillnets. Heheh!
        You said it when referring to numbers of furbearers, and then the number of trappers just doesn’t justify any interest in coming to trapper’s rescue in poor years. In fact, if it were known, my guess is that any push towards some protection for trappers would bring some folks out of the woodwork to outlaw it outright. I suspect the reputation of trappers, even on this site, would suffer should any legislator attempt an allocation or even any bail-out.
        Just my opinion as a former trapper.

      • Bill you bear some truth in your statements. it is just a shame that people think my use of wild resources is any different than say commercial fish and to think that slowly strangling and suffocating fish is an alright method of taking. Also that a lesser number of Alaskan participate in a wild resource opportunity is justification to not care about them.
        I would have to disagree with you about banning trapping. I believe the Alaskan constitution is clear and protects trapping.

      • I tend to agree with you Al but most folks can handle the strangling of fish but when it comes to mammals things get dicey.
        As far as banning trapping, you may be right, but I can say the banning of inhumane trapping could happen very easily. If folks had a clue about what’s allowed in trapping they would come unglued IMO. I just love the Newhouse 114 for wolves as an example and have even known folks who use them to keep bears from their fish camps (that trap will hold most black bears). There is just no question that any foothold trap with teeth is inhumane and should be banned IMO. Of course there are those, like my former neighbor, who said once what does it matter as it’s going to die anyway. That’s the sort of thinking that can lose a lot of wildlife freedoms but, of course, there is also the argument that God gave us the use of these animals however we want. That’s one of my favorites. Whew!

      • Bill, i would have to total disagree that toothed trap is inhumane. I believe it is the most humane leg hold trap that can be used, for the following reasons. 1. a foot caught in a toothed trap is very stable and unlikely able to slide from side to side such as in a smooth jaw trap, cutting skin and tissue. Potentially allowing the animal to pull it’s damaged foot free. Which could result in the lost of the foot or more. 2. A toothed trap will puncture the skin of the trapped foot. Thus allowing it to drain and not have much swelling of the foot, unlike a conventional trap. I know when i have injured myself, reducing the swelling or draining it, give me some pain relief. 3. i have far fewer animal escape from a toothed trap than a conventional leg hold. I still use many toothed traps and prefer them in many sets. Also when i owned and manufactured the Alaskan No.9 wolf trap. I spend many of hours trying to design a set of tooth jaws for that trap. Just because they may look scary, does not make them inhumane.

      • You can’t be serious Al. Those 114 traps are not offset jaws but come within 3/8″ of closing completely and the teeth are fully 1/2″ long that do much more than puncture the skin. Draining the wound is something you will have a hard time convincing anybody that such a trap is any kind of humane. I’m guessing you are like my neighbor-who cares as long as no animals get out of the trap. By the way, I’ve never had an animal get out of a foothold trap except for a wolverine who chewed out of a 4 jump trap and lynx that was able to get over a limb and release a jump trap by pulling against the spring. I’ll grant you that teeth might still hold those animals but there is no way they are in any sense humane IMO. Your choice to be held in a Newhouse 4 1/2 or Newhouse 114 for lets say about a half hour and give me your answer on which you prefer. Heheh!
        My guess is the best thing for you to do is not make any waves about these toothed traps, as I suspect nowhere else are they allowed and are only still allowed here is because the public doesn’t know about it. I will say that BC has outlawed all foothold traps for any weasel member and all other footholds must have offset jaws (no teeth). Basically their argument was that weasel members fight the trap too much so only killing traps are allowed. I think they have the right idea.

      • Just have to agree to disagree. i have and continue to make field observations on trap damage to fur bearers.i continue to use 114s and 14 jumps for large fur bearers. A 114 is is 1/2″. offset means having a gap between jaws. As far as BC goes. they opted into the cool-aid of “Best Management Practices” (BMP). Which if you read data collected it is inclusive, because it is incomplete and have made some assumption. Alaska had the foresight that this was just a boondoggle from the anti trapping community and is well documented.

      • Bill, after some though on your question about what trap i would want my hand in for a 1/2 an hour, a 114 or a 4 1/2 is interesting. A 4 1/2 has no offset, a 114 has 1/2″ of offset, but has teeth. The 4 1/2 will make my hand swell and may break my hand. the 114 will leave at least 3 puncture holes in my hand and make me bleed and less likely to break my hand (both the 114 and the 4 1/2 use the same spring) I might be able to get out of the 4 1/2 before the 1/2 hour was up, but unlikely that i will get out of the 114. Both will create a lot of pain for me. I am leaning to the 114, i may heal faster. But that is not my definite answer and reserve the right to change it with more thought.

      • OK Al, I have two 114s right by me and the offset is 3/8 inch with four teeth on each side for both.
        And all of those teeth that got your hand would go completely through as they are each 1/2 inch long and go past the other jaw. You can bet that Don Young didn’t use either of those traps when he demonstrated how a foothold trap doesn’t hurt. Heheh!
        What do you think of those Mannings? I suspect you are right about the hand getting broken and for sure with a Manning.

      • Well i don’t know what kind of trap you have right next to you, but all of my 2 dozen 114’s have 3 teeth on each jaw and the sport a 1/2″ offset. Mannings are no longer made and have not been so for many decades. Ned Manning invented the trap. Then sold the rights to Steve Titis. then Dean Willson bought it from Steve. Dean Willson renamed it the Alaskan No. 9. Dean sold the rights to me and i sold it 2 years ago to JR Pederson. Yes it is the most powerful trap for wolves. I know of two trappers who have had fingers severed off.

      • Well Al, I just measured my two 114s and the both have exactly a 3/8 inch offset and also have three teeth per side. I can’t imagine how/why someone would want to alter such offset so it appears that some of them were made differently. I know many BC trappers had to weld in an offset once they required it (probably 25-30 years ago) but I suppose one could file down the stop and make the offset less.
        I believe you have made the greatest argument for outlawing all foothold traps, since you seem to prefer those with teeth as more humane.
        Thanks for the info on those Manning traps.

      • I don’t think i made a case to banned leg holds w/o teeth. i just pointed out my observations of animals caught in toothed traps. looking at what physical damage may have occurred while the paw was in the trap and how long the animal may have been in that trap. Also the maturity and what specie the animal is (you made a good point about the weasel family, which a agree with you). All of which may have application of what damage could occur. This is what i look at when determining what trap is best for the game i am harvesting. Just like anyone else harvesting wild resources. Meaning i don’t general want to use a rim fired rifle to take a grizzly, even though it may work some of the time. I would not use a 4″ mesh net to catch kings, but if i did, i will catch some. I don’t use No. 2 double long spring traps for wolves, but i have caught a wolf in that trap. Like you have accused me of, i am not in the business of trapping animals only to have them escape. I am sure when you were commercial fishing you did not use nets that would have a higher probability of fish escaping, nor use traps that were not efficient of holding what you were targeting. Toothed traps, just because the way they look, bring an emotional aspect to this debate,more so than the physical debate.

      • No question it is an emotional issue as are most humane laws. All I’m talking about is humaneness in trapping and I suspect that things will change here. And by the way, I’ve witnessed some strange results from body traps that would clearly also be inhumane but these are outliers. You’ve seen folks come out of the woodwork on here, relative to tethered dogs, so’s you can get a feel for how things would go with inhumane trapping.
        I think some states allow padded foothold traps (fox) and I only used killing traps for weasel members but many still use footholds, especially in pole trapping. I’m sure you’ve witnessed the grief that marten suffer in such sets but its clearly legal but inhumane IMO. Never heard of a marten pulling out of such traps but I suppose some teeth added might lessen the pain?? That was a joke, by the way.
        I can understand not wanting an animal to get free but I personally think these toothed traps are to be outlawed (and perhaps all footholds) as inhumane. You don’t agree and we can certainly agree to disagree here. If, in fact, those toothed traps are more humane (by your reasoning) then I also believe that you’ve made the case to outlaw all foothold traps. You could be correct about those teeth making things better for the animal but that just makes the foothold trap (without teeth) something intolerable IMO.

      • humane/inhumane are very interpretive words. To go any further with this discussion, they would have to be defined.

      • I agree Al, sort of on the line of “obscene”-try defining it but we all know it when we see it.
        We clearly look at it differently for livestock, rather than pets, and wild animals may be in a separate category.
        I’ve mentioned this before but a talk-show host on KFAR was pushing a change to our humane laws on livestock and received a call from a Fairbanks farmer (regular caller) who complained that her new law would prevent him from castrating his hogs. She (a favorite with KFAR rednecks, too) says “they are surely anesthetized”, after the farmer described his procedure, and he replied “no ma’m!” That woman never returned to that talk-show program.

    • AFB,
      The main difference between the fed and state subsistence permit, is that the state can shut down the fishery, except the fed subsistence permits. That was the point I was making. Why have a state permit, if you qualify for a fed one?

      • well the feds can also shut down a fishery also. kusko and yukon comes to mind

      • Also not all rural Alaskans qualify for a federal opportunity in the Glennallen sub. dist. Only these Alaskans qualify. ● Residents of the Prince William Sound Area and residents of
        Cantwell, Chickaloon, Chisana, Dry Creek, Dot Lake, Healy
        Lake, Northway, Tanacross, Tetlin, Tok, and those individuals
        living along the Alaska Highway from the U.S./Canada border to
        Dot Lake, along the Tok Cutoff from Tok to Mentasta Pass, and
        along the Nabesna Road.

  3. Sonar counter had a marked increase yesterday , with todays 6 am count 30% higher than yesterdays,The fish from the first opener should be just reaching the counter now. Graph looks 5 to 6 days behind still on escapement dates .Anticipated daily is getting smaller and actual is still increasing. I would bet with 7 to 10 days the counter will catch up.

    • let’s hope. the anticipated daily is getting smaller. no doubt about that. hopefully a day will be seen somewhere this week where it is exceeded. i’d start to get more optimistic then.
      it’s still hard to believe the return doesn’t hit the in-river minimum goal, but that’s not a very high bar. i don’t think we’ve gone under 700,000 in-river since the old millennium, have we?

    • I suspect you are correct,it would be near 100% participation for chums in the sound, Initial price sounded like $1.10 per lb.

      • I had just heard yesterday that chums would bring a good price. They may just pull out a season if those chums show up in numbers.

      • i’m sure some went out for the subsistence opener, too, just to see what’s there. it would be hard not to be curious. it’s the old question of how much fuel you want to burn for what your’re going to get. the early Coghill District chum catch looked pretty good, and there were 200 some deliveries.

      • There have always been a few Cordova folks that have resisted going to the Sound and, if enough others leave the Flats, they tend to make a season. No doubt some of those would try a subsistence net to see what’s out there (and to get their personal use kings) but I suspect the large majority of the fleet went to Sound. Chalmers may also be open. Lots of money can be made with chums over a dollar, if they show in numbers.

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