Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion In this June 2, 2015 file photo, Mike Matheny of Kasilof eases a 20-pound king salmon back into the Kasilof River after catching it near Crooked Creek in Kasilof, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion In this June 2, 2015 file photo, Mike Matheny of Kasilof eases a 20-pound king salmon back into the Kasilof River after catching it near Crooked Creek in Kasilof, Alaska.

King salmon stocking to expand at Crooked Creek

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to clarify the stocking numbers. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game increased the smolts stocked in Crooked Creek from 105,000 to 140,500 in 2014, and the updated number is a continuation of that stocking amount. They also plan to hold, imprint, artificially spawn and release 101 male and 101 female natural- and hatchery-produced king salmon at the Crooked Creek Facility.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game wants 3,000 king salmon to call Crooked Creek home.

The Kasilof River/Crooked Creek Chinook Salmon Enhancement plan, updated in the annual Statewide Stocking Plan, plans to continue stocking 140,500 king salmon smolt into Crooked Creek, a tributary of the Kasilof River.

The goal is a return of approximately 3,000 fish. This would be double the current return, which clocked in at 1,459 fish in 2015, according to Fish and Game records. The Division of Sport Fish estimates will generate about 17,500 angler days each year, making it about 3 percent of all the angler days fished in Kenai Peninsula freshwater.

The department would maintain its current escapement goal of between 650 and 1,700 naturally-produced adult king salmon that would spawn upriver of the Crooked Creek facility.

The Kasilof has a historical king salmon run, but it is significantly smaller and later in the year than the Kenai River’s king salmon run. Some of the fish harvested in the terminal fishery at the mouth of the Kasilof River are headed for the Kenai River terminus, but the majority harvested there are headed for the main stem of the Kasilof River.

Gradually, the number of naturally produced fish declined as the hatchery production increased in the 1980s, but the natural population has remained above 50 percent since 2002.

The Department Fish and Game has been working on projects to enhance the kings in the Kasilof River and Crooked Creek for several years. The plan is updated every year — the department increased the smolts from 105,000 to 140,500 in 2014, and the number in the plan is a continuation of that quota, said Andrew Garry, the stocking coordinator for the William Jack Hernandez State Hatchery.

“The intent of the hatchery enhancement is certainly to reduce pressure on wild stocks, and to create a more diverse experience,” Garry said. “(The Crooked Creek project) is a sport fish goal.”

The first fish would be held, imprinted, artificially spawned and released from the Crooked Creek Facility in June 2016. Fish and Game biologists would capture 101 male and 101 female fish that return to Crooked Creek in July 2016. Only naturally produced salmon would be released into Crooked Creek; hatchery-produced fish would be released at other terminal fisheries.

The statewide stocking plan also includes a king salmon enhancement project in the Ninilchik River. The run on the Ninilchik River has decreased drastically in the past few years, falling from an average harvest of 1,433 salmon from 1999-2007 to 319 from 2008-2013. Fish and Game plans to continue the stocking program in the Ninilchik, releasing 150,000 thermally marked smolts in the river, which are all tagged with code wires and have their adipose fin clipped.

Although the stocking program includes all types of fish native to Alaska, the Kasilof, Kenai and Ninilchik rivers are largely king salmon rivers, Garry said. The department does work on coho fisheries in Seward and along the Homer Spit, he said.

“King enhancement is certainly a priority for us, but we certainly make a concerted effort to enhance the coho fisheries as well,” Garry said. “It just happens that we aren’t working on the coho in those rivers.”

Statewide, king stocking is a much larger program than coho. Approximately 1.2 million coho smolt are stocked every year, while about 4 million king salmon smolt go out every year, Garry said. The survival rate in the oceans is about the same for the two species, he said.

The statewide stocking plan is open for public comment until Jan. 29. Comments can be submitted by email to andrew.garry@alaska.gov or mailed to Andrew Garry at William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery, 941 N. Reeve Blvd., Anchorage, AK, 99501.

 

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Signs are placed on Lowell Point Road ahead of the road opening in Seward, Alaska, May 27, 2022, following the May 7 Bear Mountain landslide. (Photo and caption courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough)
Lowell Point Road reopens after landslide

Locals have relied on water taxi service since the May 7 slide

Heather Renner and Tasha Reynolds run and fat bike to the finish line on the Kenai Beach during the 2019 Mouth to Mouth Wild Run & Ride. (Photo courtesy Kaitlin Vadla)
Mouth to Mouth bike race and run returns Monday

The race starts at the mouth of the Kasilof River and ends at the mouth of Kenai River

Demonstrators rally in support of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District teachers and staff outside of the George A. Navarre Admin Building on Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Overworked and underpaid’

Rally calls for support for KPBSD staff, teachers

Mount Redoubt volcano can be seen across Cook Inlet from the shores of South Kenai Beach, in Kenai, Alaska, on April 10, 2022. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Cook Inlet basin energy future lies beyond fossil fuels, conference speakers say

The region that was once famous for oil is teeming with renewables like wind, solar, geothermal and tidal energy

Tony Izzo, CEO of Matansuka Electric Association, stands with other utility executives on May 25 to describe a $200 million project to upgrade transmission lines along Alaska’s Railbelt. The announcement was made at the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference in Anchorage. Curtis Thayer, executive director of the Alaska Energy Authority, is at the far left; Gov. Mike Dunleavy is at the far right. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Utilities in Alaska’s Railbelt announce $200M transmission upgrade project

The upgrade will move more energy from the Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Plant on the Kenai Peninsula

Silver salmon swim in Sucker Creek on Sept. 18, 2020. (Photo by Matt Bowser/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Project to study effect of climate change on salmon streams

The organization will partner with the United States Geological Survey

Wood is piled near the entrance to Centennial Park on Thursday, May 26, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. The campground was closed for most of May while the city worked with contractors to remove trees infested with spruce bark beetles from the property. Southcentral Alaska’s current spruce beetle outbreak has already affected 1.6 million acres of land, including 21,000 acres managed by the Kenai Peninsula Borough. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna beetle-kill efforts boosted by $150K grant

The city has focused recent mitigation efforts on city campgrounds

A spruce bark beetle is seen on the underside of a piece of bark taken from logs stacked near Central Peninsula Landfill on Thursday, July 1, 2021, near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Emergency harvest of beetle-killed spruce trees approved

The move comes amid an infestation that has spread across Southcentral Alaska

This May 4, 2022, photo shows oceanographers Andrew McDonnell, left, and Claudine Hauri, middle, along with engineer Joran Kemme after an underwater glider was pulled aboard the University of Alaska Fairbanks research vessel Nanuq from the Gulf of Alaska. The glider was fitted with special sensors to study ocean acidification. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
An ocean first: Underwater drone tracks CO2 in Alaska gulf

The autonomous vehicle was deployed in the Gulf of Alaska

Most Read