Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New York
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Sethi SA, Tanner T. (2014) Spawning distribution and abundance of a northern Chinook population. Fisheries Management and Ecology 21:427-438. DOI: 10.1111/fme.12091


Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum), is an important biological and cultural resource in Alaska, but knowledge about Chinook salmon ecology is limited in many regions. From 2009 to 2012, spawning distribution and abundance of a northern Chinook salmon population on the Togiak River in south-west Alaska were assessed. Chinook salmon preferred deeper mainstem channel spawning habitat, with 12% (14 of 118 tags in 2009) to 21% (22 of 106 tags in 2012) of radio-tagged fish spawning in smaller order tributaries. Tributary spawners tended to have earlier run timing than mainstem spawners. Chinook salmon exhibited extended holding and backout (entering freshwater but returning to saltwater before completing anadromous migration) behaviours near the mouth of Togiak River, potentially prolonging their exposure to fishery harvest. Mark–recapture total annual run estimates (2010–2012) ranged from 11 240 (2011) to 18 299 (2012) fish. Exploitation of Chinook salmon ranged from 36% (2012) to 55% (2011) during the study period, with incidental fishery catches near the mouth of the river comprising the largest source of harvest.