Fishing restrictions aimed at helping native fish populations recover

  • Wednesday, December 28, 2016 8:18pm
  • News

With an eye toward helping native fish populations recover, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued emergency orders on Wednesday affecting fishing on several central Kenai Peninsula lakes.

According to Wednesday’s emergency orders:

— Sport fishing through the ice at East and West Mackey, Union and Derk’s lakes near Soldotna will be limited to two closely attended lines for 2017. In addition, no retention of any species of fish, except northern pike, is allowed from these lakes. These restrictions will be in effect through Dec. 31, 2017.

Mackey Lakes, Derk’s Lake, and Union Lake were treated with rotenone to eradicate invasive northern pike in 2014. According to Fish and Game, the restrictions are necessary to protect native fish populations as they are re-established in the lakes.

“The sport fish transported to these lakes are still primarily small juveniles and younger fish. There are many other locations on the Kenai Peninsula where anglers can target various species through the ice,” Jason Pawluk, the Assistant Area Management Biologist in Soldotna said in a press release.

Pawluk added that anglers may still use up to five lines while sport fishing through the ice on Sevena Lake, and the unnamed northern pike lakes in the Tote Road and Stubblefield Road area. The Tote Road lakes have yet to be treated with rotenone and northern pike are still present, although Sevena Lake has been treated with its first application of rotenone and has had intense netting harvest over the past couple of years, so northern pike fishing success is expected to be unproductive. Ice fishing with up to five lines is a special regulation and is only allowed on the Kenai Peninsula lakes listed here.

According to Fish and Game, there is no bag or possession limit on northern pike in Southcentral Alaska. Anglers are encouraged to retain all northern pike they catch and not to release live northern pike back to the water. Sport fishing for northern pike through the ice using five lines is allowed provided that standard ice fishing gear is used, the lines are closely attended, and all other nontarget species are released immediately.

— The retention of Arctic char/Dolly Varden will be prohibited in 2017 in Stormy Lake to continue restoration of native fish stocks. Anglers are prohibited from retaining Arctic char/Dolly Varden in Stormy Lake from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2017.

Stormy Lake was treated with rotenone to eradicate invasive northern pike in 2012. Prior to the treatment, eggs were taken from native Arctic char and reared in the William Jack Hernandez Hatchery. The resulting fingerling Arctic char were stocked into Stormy Lake during summer 2013. According to Fish and Game, the Arctic char have not reached maturity and have yet to undergo a spawning event. Arctic char are a species with slow growth rates and low population densities and it is unknown how long it will take for these fish to become sexually mature. To allow for the restoration of native fish in Stormy Lake, Fish and Game will continue to apply conservative regulations.

— All eastside Cook Inlet beaches will remain closed to sport and personal use clamming in 2017 due to the continued low abundance of mature size razor clams. The closure prohibits the taking of any clam species from eastside beaches and will be in effect from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2017. The affected area runs from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit.

According to Fish and Game, abundance of mature sized razor clams remained at a historic low level on both Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beach sections; however, above average recruitment of juvenile size razor clams were detected on both beach sections, signs that the population may be beginning to rebound. Fish and Game will survey beaches again in 2017.

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