Yukon, Kuskokwim rivers see polar opposite king returns

    BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — The Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers are having opposite experiences with king salmon this season.

    Kings in the Kuskokwim arrived late in a small trickle, while the kings in the Yukon arrived early in the largest observed run in more than a decade, KYUK reported Tuesday.

    Fewer than 60,000 kings are estimated to have passed the Bethel sonar station in the Kuskokwim. State biologists, however, said the river's king run might still meet escapement goals. To meet the lowest end of drainage-wide escapement, 65,000 kings would need to reach their spawning grounds.

    In the Yukon, more than a quarter-million kings have passed the lower river sonar site at Pilot Station. The run is expected to meet escapement goals and provide a larger subsistence harvest than last year.

    Some Yukon tributaries have already met escapement for king salmon, but high water is disrupting accurate counting on others.

    The summer chum run on the Yukon is also experiencing a banner year. More than 3 million summer chum have passed the lower river sonar station, far above historical numbers, and escapement goals for these fish are being met along the river. Starting Tuesday, chum salmon that arrived in the Yukon River became considered fall chum.

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