Bristol Bay Rivers
Native Trout & Salmon
If developed, the Pebble Mine would be the largest open pit mine in North America. The problem - it's located in the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, two of the eight major rivers that feed Bristol Bay. Because of its size, geochemistry and location, Pebble runs a high risk of polluting Bristol Bay, one of the world's great wild salmon strongholds. It's up to our generation to keep this piece of heaven from going to hell.
Fishing the Nushagak River Alaska
The Nushagak River empties into Nushagak Bay in southwestern Alaska near the town of Dillingham. The Nushagak watershed encompasses an area approximately 1.3 million square km. Of all the rivers I've personally fished, it easily ranks as the broadest and flattest of any river in North America. In places, it appears to be so broad that you can't detect any current.
The Nushagak watershed provides spawning and rearing habitat for several anadromous species including Chinook O. tshawytscha, coho O. kisutch, sockeye O. nerka, chum O. keta, and pink O. gorbuscha salmon. Other salmon producing rivers emptying into Nushagak Bay include the Wood, Igushik and Snake rivers. In Nushagak Bay, only the Wood River produces more salmon than the Nushagak River. However, the Nush wears the crown with it's claim to having the largest run of king salmon in North America.
The Nushagak Salmon Runs Drive Bristol Bay Commercial Fishery
Development of a commercial fishery in Bristol Bay began as early as 1884, primarily on sockeye salmon (Rich and Ball 1928) but expanded rapidly to include other species such as Chinook and chum salmon. Over the last 20 years an average of 6.4 million salmon have been harvested annually in the Nushagak fishing district, and this harvest has been 24% of the total Bristol Bay commercial salmon harvest (Jones et al. 2012).
These salmon runs in the Nushagak watershed are the life-blood to residents of this area from the earliest settlements into the modern era. A survey of Dillingham residents in 1984 found that households in this area harvested 715 lbs of salmon.
From sport anglers looking to catch the Chinook salmon of a life-time, to the local commercial fishermen, to the local residents here, the Nushagak River is a special place. A place which literally puts food on our tables.