Herring seiners in Sitka landed about 3,700 tons on Saturday (4-7-12) in the third opener of this year’s Sac Roe fishery.

That puts the fleet at 14,000 tons so far, well below its goal of a record 29,000 tons.

Fishermen were growing increasingly anxious over the five day interval between Saturday’s fishing and the previous opener on Monday. In the interim, ADF&G mapped nearly 37-miles of active spawn.

The Sac Roe fishery depends on landing the herring just before they spawn. The egg sacs are sold to gourmet markets primarily in Japan.

ADF&G opened fishing on Saturday in a large area to the north of Sitka, including Krestof and Salisbury sounds. Finding marketable volumes of unspawned fish has been challenging. ADF&G biologist Dave Gordon sounded almost like he was organizing an easter-egg hunt over VHF radio.

“So, a very large area. The situation through last night appears to be that fish moved out of Salisbury, down into Krestof Sound, but there still remains a decent volume of fish in the Salisbury sound area.”

Fishing took place between 2:15 and 5:30 in the afternoon.

The department reports large volumes of unspawned herring remain in deep water in areas closer to Sitka. Gordon says it’s not unusual for the herring to spawn successive waves. It’s been more common recently, however, for the sac roe fishery to complete its work prior to major spawning activity.

Gordon says it’s likely that fishing will resume on Monday.