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 or mailed to Andrew Garry at William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery, 941 N. Reeve Blvd., Anchorage, AK, 99501.


Reach Elizabeth Earl at

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
2 men missing after plane crash reported near Moose Pass

A pair of hikers witnessed and reported the crash around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, trooper say

Alaska Department of Transportation Commissioner Ryan Anderson speaks during a town hall meeting on the use of brine on Kenai Peninsula roads, in the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Chambers in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, June 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Brine use reduced by 69% this winter, further changes possible

Department of Transportation holds town hall to report back on winter brine use, collect feedback

Sockeye salmon are gathered together at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Commercial fishing with dipnets to see 1st opening Thursday

Commercial fishing with dipnets will be allowed for their first opening on… Continue reading

A seal pup rescued from the Kenai Beach is in the care of the Alaska SeaLife Center’s Wildlife Response Program in Seward, Alaska, on June 6, 2024. (Photo provided by Alaska SeaLife Center)
2nd seal pup rescued in Kenai, ASLC now caring for 4

A second newborn seal was rescued on Kenai Beach and admitted by… Continue reading

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, right, slices and serves fresh watermelon during North Peninsula Recreation Service Area’s Family Fun in the Midnight Sun at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center in Nikiski, Alaska, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
North Peninsula Rec holds annual summer celebration

Attractions at this year’s event included carnival games, food trucks, field games, face painting, live music and demonstrations

The Blood Bank of Alaska’s new Kenai Peninsula center is seen in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, June 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Blood Bank relaunches permanent center on Kenai Peninsula

The new location joins others in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Wasilla

Nathan Nelson directs a kite flying dozens of feet up in the sky above Millennium Square in Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai Kite Festival on Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Sun, wind, friends and kites

Kiters both experienced and novice gather for Kenai festival

Marchers walk from the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park as part of Soldotna Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 3, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Pride in the Park, other Pride celebrations set for Saturday

The event starts with the Two-Spirit March, which meets at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex at 11:30 a.m.

Signs direct visitors at Seward City Hall on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward OKs around $362,000 in purchases for Electric Department material

A pair of resolutions were included and passed within the consent agenda

Most Read