Bristol Bay harvester Lindsay Bloom, left, with her children, Isla and Colden Delay, during delivery of one of several contenders for the 2 billionth Bristol Bay salmon to Gov. Bill Walker, center. The governor was joined by Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham. The sockeye salmon held by the governor was caught by Howard Knutsen, 86, of Anchorage, a veteran Bristol Bay harvester. Photo courtesy of Bob King

The 2 billionth Bristol Bay salmon has been caught, but who caught it?

Nobody knows for sure.

As of July 11, the preliminary Bristol Bay salmon harvest, as calculated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, stood at upwards of 17.8 million salmon, and was rising daily, and the statewide preliminary harvest total exceeded 38.7 million fish.

Veteran harvester Gary Isaksen, of Lake Stevens, WA, claimed the title on July 7, after delivering a 5.5 pound sockeye salmon from the FV Heidi of Norway to the FV Cornelia Marie, which was tendering for Peter Pan Seafoods in the Nushagak district of Bristol Bay.

Isaksen said he heard a message on KDLG public radio in Dillingham urging someone to deliver the 2 billionth fish and decided do to it.

Then on July 11 came a second announcement, that another sockeye salmon caught by 86-year-old Howard Knutsen, of Anchorage, had been delivered to Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott in Juneau, representing the 2 billionth fish.


“It’s truly an honor to deliver this fish and celebrate this moment with Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Mallott,” said Sharon Thompson, of Naknek, whose husband is a Bristol Bay harvester.

“The 2 billionth salmon highlights the urgency of protecting Alaska’s fishing jobs by finalizing protections for the Bristol Bay watershed.”

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, delivery of the 1 billionth salmon caught in the Bay also came in the Nushagak district, on June 28, 1978.

“Two billion is just around the corner and every fisherman should claim credit for catching the two billionth salmon,” ADF&G said in an online announcement earlier this month.

Bristol Bay’s fishing history dates back 133 years, when the canned salmon industry entered the Bay in 1884. ADF&G said the 2-billion-salmon milestone would be reached when the 2016 total harvest reached 10,033,455 fish.