Salmon season update

Bristol Bay gillnet boats line up to deliver their sockeye salmon catches to tender vessels. Jack Molan photo

We're approaching the halfway mark of the 2012 salmon season. Here are a few highlights from the action thus far:

• The statewide catch as of Friday, all species, totaled more than 22.2 million fish. The state predicts 132.1 million for the season.

• The harvest tally typically doesn't really mount up until the pink salmon hordes show up, and that hasn't happened yet. Only 428,000 pinks have been taken thus far.

• The state's main money fish is sockeye, and some areas are seeing good results. Bristol Bay gillnetters last week enjoyed day after day of big catches, and through Saturday the harvest was 14.9 million, or more than two-thirds of the preseason forecast. Copper River fishermen have taken 1.6 million sockeye — outstanding.

• In Upper Cook Inlet, poor king salmon returns to the Kenai River are hurting sockeye fishermen. The state Department of Fish and Game is closing down setnetters today. The idea is to let Kenai kings pass through.

• In Southeast Alaska, the general summer troll season that opened July 1 closes to retention of king salmon at midnight tonight. That's when the target harvest of 98,135 kings is expected to be reached. Fish and Game says it counted 548 troll vessels during aerial surveys.

• Commercial fishing has begun way up in Norton Sound, but it's a weird year. "The large amount of ice in Norton Sound this winter is thus far resulting in the latest runs of salmon observed in decades," Fish and Game reports.