For these fish, the question isn’t whether they’ll survive the winter — it’s where they will be when the winter ends and for the next four springs after that.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has almost finished drafting its five-year statewide stocking plan, the document that determines which landlocked lakes and free-flowing rivers will be the targets of visiting and resident fishermen.
The stocking plan is typically amended each year, and the comment period that ends Jan. 13 is the final opportunity for fishermen to state their opinions.
While aspects of the new plan are unchanged from the existing strategy, some familiar
lakes are being left out of the stocking plan because of changes in land ownership, said Donn Tracy, management biologist at the Kodiak office of Fish and Game.
“We are bound by federal regulations to only stock fish in waters that have some sort of legal public access,” he said.
As Leisnoi Corp. has strengthened its legal claim to its land along the road system, lakes such as Jupiter and Saturn in Chiniak and Dolgoi on Long Island can no longer be accessed legally by fishermen.
“For the most part, when we change our stocking objectives here in Kodiak, that’s been the principal reason,” Tracy said. “It’s not a loss of support for stocking by the landowner, but just a situation where we haven’t been able to meet that criteria.”
In addition to deciding which lakes are stocked, the stocking plan determines what species are available.
“We’re still continuing our rainbow trout, coho or silver salmon and our king salmon,” Tracy said. “It’s possible at some point in the future we could pursue some different species. Kodiak used to have a grayling stocking program, just as an example.”
No new species are planned under the new five-year stocking strategy, but the document does call for the release of up to 300,000 king salmon smolt each year.
“We use that as an objective when we’re considering funding levels and resources that are committed to the project,” Tracy said. “If we were able to control all the variables, it’s what we would release every year.”
The state contracts with the Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association to raise the smolt, and Pillar Creek Hatchery manager Al Seale said the target is ambitious unless a long-planned expansion takes place.
“That’s a little bit above our rearing capacity,” Seale said.
In some years, the hatchery has released as many as 250,000 inch-long king salmon. In others, it has been as few as 60,000. Regardless of the number, the program has been a success since it began in 2000, with the goal of establishing a returning population of king salmon to rivers in the Kodiak road system.
Under the 300,000-smolt goal, 140,000 would be released into Monashka Creek, 80,000 into the American River and 80,000 into the Olds River.
If king salmon production falls short, Seale said, numbers would be made up with silver salmon. The plan allows for up to 50,000 silver smolt in each of Monashka Creek and Pillar Creek.
While five years is a long time to project, Seale said he doesn’t expect much to change from the plan being suggested now.
“The currently approved release locations will remain the same; I don’t see those being broadened in any way,” he said.
“In terms of maintaining the status quo,” he said, “I think we’re in good shape.”
Anglers can view the proposed stocking plan at kodiakdailymirror.com. To submit a comment on the plan to the state, email Diane Loopstra at email@example.com or submit written comments to the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery, 941 N. Reeve Blvd., Anchorage, AK 99501.
Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Kodiak sport fish stocking plan calls for 25 lakes and three rivers to receive fish.
• The Olds River, American River and Monashka Creek will receive king salmon smolt and silver salmon smolt.
• Dark Lake will receive silver salmon (7,500).
• Island Lake will receive silver salmon (22,500).
• Mayflower Lake will receive silver salmon fingerlings (6,500).
• Mission Lake will get silver salmon fingerlings (12,500).
• Potato Patch Lake will get silver salmon fingerlings (9,500).
• Lake Abercrombie will get silver salmon fingerlings (3,500) and rainbow trout fingerlings (5,550).
• Aurel Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (4,500).
• Big Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (5,400).
• Bull Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (3,000).
• Barry Lagoon will get silver salmon fingerlings (30,000).
• Caroline Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (2,100).
• Cicely Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (1,800).
• Dark Lake will get silver salmon fingerlings (7,500).
• Devil’s Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (1,500).
• Dragon Fly Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (2,400).
• Heitman Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (4,950).
• Horseshoe Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (1,500).
• Island Lake will get silver salmon fingerlings (22,500) and silver salmon fingerlings (6,000).
• Lee Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (4,200).
• Lilly Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (2,400).
• Long Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (5,400).
• Mosquito Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (3,600).
• Margaret (Boy Scout) Lake will get silver salmon fingerlings (3,500).
• Tanignak Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (6,000).
• Twin Lake will get rainbow trout fingerlings (6,000).