My thanks to Laine Welch down on Kodiak for an e-mail yesterday waking me up to the fact that the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery has begun.
This is a feisty and lucrative fishing event, and someday I hope to see it in person.
According to the latest hotline update from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, seine boats have had two brief cracks at the fish – once on Sunday and again on Tuesday.
Total catch from those two openers was 7,700 tons, leaving 6,800 to go under the catch limit.
Fish and Game says the fleet of 50 seiners is on “standdown” mode today, with the next opener possibly tomorrow depending on how the herring are distributed and how ripe they are with eggs, or roe.
It’s the roe, popular in Japan, that makes these little, silver fish so sought after.
Last year’s fishery paid the fleet almost $9 million, and a few lucky seiners reportedly had legendary catches of over 1,000 tons worth more than half a million dollars.
We’re not likely to see such huge hauls again this season, Fish and Game’s Eric Coonradt told Welch on her Fish Radio show.
“Last year was kind of a fluke. We had an area open at an extended shelf with a soft, sandy bottom in shallow water and it allowed fishermen to trap the fish against the bottom. This year we’re having fisheries in a little deeper water.”