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Thread: Ak Fishing News: "Wild Weekends" Opening Soon on the Ninilchick

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    Arrow Ak Fishing News: "Wild Weekends" Opening Soon on the Ninilchick

    This news clip is from Alaska Fishing News. Discussion is welcome. This news feed is robot generated.

    From an ADFG News Release:

    The Ninilchik River will be open continuously for hatchery king salmon starting Memorial Day weekend.

    An Emergency Order has been issued to open the Ninilchik River continuously to fishing for hatchery king salmon from Saturday, May 26, 12:01 a.m. (Memorial Day weekend) through Sunday, July 15 at 11:59 p.m. Bait will be allowed until September 1, but anglers can use only one single-pointed hook through July 15. The use of double or treble hooks may resume July 16 and continue until September 1.

    The harvest of wild king salmon will be permitted only during the usual “wild weekend” openings, which are Memorial Day weekend, the next two weekends and the Mondays following those weekends. Outside these dates, only hatchery king salmon may be kept, and wild king salmon may not be retained or possessed. Hatchery fish can be recognized by their missing adipose fin and healed fin clip scar. King salmon intended for release may not be removed from the water.

    The fishing area remains the same: from the river mouth upstream approximately 2 miles to the regulatory marker. Daily bag and possession limits for king salmon 20 inches or longer are 2 per day and 2 in possession, only 1 of which may be a wild king salmon. Daily limits for king salmon under 20 inches are 10 per day and in possession.

    Any king salmon 20 inches or longer that is kept counts toward the annual limit of five and must be recorded immediately.

    A person may not fillet, mutilate, or otherwise disfigure a king salmon in such a manner that prevents determination that the fish is a hatchery or wild fish until the person has stopped fishing in the Ninilchik River drainage for the day and has moved more than 100 yards away from the Ninilchik River.

    Anglers will still be allowed to remove the gills and the guts from their Ninilchik River king salmon before removing the fish from the shoreline fishing site.

    King salmon are stocked in the Ninilchik River to provide additional harvest opportunity for sport anglers while preventing overharvest of the wild king salmon that return to the river. Approximately 40 percent of the expected return of hatchery-produced king salmon continues to escape the fishery despite the liberal bag and possession limits.

    For additional information contact Nicky Szarzi, Fisheries Biologist III, (907) 235-8191.

    Read the individual article on Alaska Fishing News...

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  2. #2
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Here's a thought...

    If ADFG is so concerned about so many hatchery fish polluting the spawning grounds, why not just curtail the stocking program?

    60% exploitation on hatchery stocks is pretty darned impressive for a meager rod and reel fishery. You're not gonna get much better than that because most of the 40% that don't get caught are NON-biters anyway!

    What's at stake here is the sustainability of unique wild population of kings.

    If they feel the stocking program can be justified in the name of "opportunity" (uh-oh, there's that nasty word again!) then they should adopt a wild broodstock policy when conducting their egg-takes, i.e. no returning hatchery fish are collected for broodstock. That way, progeny from the hatchery program are never more than one generation removed from wild stock. This minimizes the risk of hatchery inbreeding and domestication. It also minimizes the genetic risks of having unharvested domesticated/inbred hatchery fish "polluting" the spawning grounds.

    If a wild broodstock program were to be implemented, it would have to be VERY closely monitored to ensure that production from the hatchery would be significantly greater than natural production in terms of returning adults per spawner.

    Without that assurance, running such a hatchery program would be pointless!

    Hatcheries basically "mine" wild eggs from the river and convert them into a fin-clipped harvestable commodity. If a pair of wild spawners would have been just as productive seeding the gravel naturally, what's the point of taking them out of the spawning pool and cycling them through a hatchery? Why bother with the hassle and expense when you can get the same or better results for free?
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    Default Hey fishnphysician

    The stocking in the Ninilchik is a wild only broodstock. Some hatchery fish are spawned during their egg takes but the hatchery progeny are stocked into the Kachemak Bay terminal fisheries (homer spit fishing hole).

    I think the EO provides some additional fishing opportunity without hurting the wild stock. Fish and Game goes through a lot of trouble to stock it, why not have more days available for us to catch some more of those fish.

    Based on the current escapement numbers and harvest levels, the Ninilchik stock will continue to need the hatchery supplementation to be sustainable. Without the stocking, they would probably only allow 2 weekends of fishing to have a sustainable fishery. I think that 60% explotation rate is for the wild stock. The hatchery explotation rate is somewhere around 30%. Any hatchery fish above zero in the escapement is surplus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newsbot View Post
    Approximately 40 percent of the expected return of hatchery-produced king salmon continues to escape the fishery despite the liberal bag and possession limits.

    For additional information contact Nicky Szarzi, Fisheries Biologist III, (907) 235-8191.
    Let's see... 40% of the artificially proagated kings escape the fishery. I believe the corollary to that statement is that exploitation on the hatchery portion of the run is 60%.

    Glad to hear that it is a wild broodstock program for the hatchery fish that actually get stocked back into the creek.
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    Default Hatchery Kings

    I am not familiar with all of the details of the area but think it would be worth it to protect the wild stocks at all costs. If they want more Hatchery Kings to keep the tourists happy,
    {I would fit the bill} they should have more fisheries like the "Spit Hole" in Homer. What the heck the fish are in the same area and can feed in the "Cook Inlet". It might help to set one up half way between Homer and the mouth of the Kenai. I hope this isn't too half baked of an idea, if so dismiss it and move on. I live in Oregon and the stocks here have been depleted. Protect your stocks the best that you can.
    Last edited by KoneZone; 05-07-2007 at 22:01. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by pearljam View Post
    The stocking in the Ninilchik is a wild only broodstock. Some hatchery fish are spawned during their egg takes but the hatchery progeny are stocked into the Kachemak Bay terminal fisheries (homer spit fishing hole).
    Well I don't think it's quite that clearcut.

    Got a voice mail out to Nicki Szarzi to get it straight from the horse's mouth.

    In the meantime I also did a search on the ADFG website. The LCI website has a page about the program, and there is a 1999-2000 stock assessment report written by Bob Begich in 2006 (wow.... 7 year lag between data collection and formal reporting!)

    Anyway the stated program goal is to collect 105 pairs of kings for broodstock. It does not stipulate whether the broodstock should be wild- or hatchery-origin... just that 105 hens were needed for the egg-take to produce 450,000 smolt. In fact Begich's report contained a table that showed nearly 40% of the brood hens in the assessment period were of hatchery origin! The only guideline for the broodstock fish was that their age-composition reflect the historic age-composition of wild returns.

    Once hatched and reared, 50K smolt go back into Ninilchik River and the remaining 400K are outplanted to K-Bay.... 200K for the Spit Hole, 100K for Halibut Cove, and and 100K for Seldovia. There is no mention as to the broodstock of origin for the smolts destined for each of these sites.

    I see two HUGE potential problems with this scheme.

    First is that the mixing of wild and hatchery brood-fish is fraught with genetic peril, especially if returning hatchery progeny are allowed to spawn in the wild. Without a mechanism to collect those hatchery "strays" to keep them off the gravel, there are serious genetic implications for naturally spawning fish. It would be very reassuring to get confirmation from Nicki that only smolts from wild parents are planted back to Ninilchik.

    Second is that eggs are being mined from a small fragile wild run of kings to support out-of-basin fake-fisheries. ***? I would be very concerned that managers need to review the history of the major documented hatchery blunders in the PNW and BC... this is simply another example of bad history repeating itself. The universal result in each instance was depletion of wild fish populations... and for what? Another convoluted scheme to prop up more harvest on this tiny little creek and places beyond?

    When you honestly look at it at face value, this hatchery program has been sacrificing 200-250 kings that have already escaped the fishery... that's in the ballpark of 20-25% of historic wild escapement. It then takes their eggs into a hatchery to convert them into a fin-clipped harvestable commodity.... then out-plants nearly 90% of the progeny to distant locales.

    Does anyone else out there see a problem with this?

    The Ninilchik River holds a very special place in my heart because as a boy, it's where I cut my teeth fishing for kings. I went eleven straight years without missing a Memorial weekend before heading off to medical school. Although the hatchery has expanded harvest opportunities on this little creek, it has come at a cost. The fish we caught in the 70's and 80's were in a whole different league compared to what's in there today. It's pretty sad.

    I'm sure sheepman can chime in with some additional perspective in that regard.

    We could certainly use some insight from Nerka as well.

    How about it guys?
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    Default Stupid!

    i'm with you on this one fishN, i have spent every one of my 43 birthdays on that river, happens to fall w/i a day or 2 of Memorial day weekend. My family has fished the river since 1949. My father would leave Anchorage drive to Portage, get on the train to Moose Pass, then drive 12 hours to get to Ninilchick. It holds the most incredible memories for me. now my children 14 & 11 have fished it since they were born.
    the problems that I see with this are many,
    with such a small stream the fishing pressure to find these hatchery fish will catch more than half of the native fish. 50% or better of those fish will not be treated properly and more than likely will never make the spawning grounds.
    When ther is constant pressure on the creek, the fish will not hold over in the runs or holes. there will only be a tidally influenced run, then the fish will be above the 2 mile marker. This in my mind will take away the days of the FABULOUS openings. The fishery will be mostly enjoyed by tourists, no offense, who have planned to be here during the week days when the average Joe is working.
    I understand that ADFG has an incredulis task on there hands to try and keep the people happy and create better opportunities for all to catch fish. Certainly a job that i wouldn't want. I personally feel that there decision on this one will devistate the real opportunity on this river.

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    If you believe that our streams should be left in the condition that they were in the 40's and 50's.....stop fishing. It's pretty simple. The increase in fisherman population and pressure in our lifetimes is unprecedented. Fishing isn't what it used to be because all the new guys exploiting the resource. You know what? Ask a 75 year old guy how he feels and he'll point at me as the new guy. I've been here for 40 years. He's been here for 70.

    The new residents and visitors here see this place as wild. They want fishing opportunities. ADFG has the responsibility to serve us all. Fisherman want fish to catch. ADFG has the technology to provide the fish. While we embrace technology in every facet of our lives, including in fishing gear, we complain about fish population management technology? Sounds a little hypocritical, huh? Alaska isn't the place it used to be. Small strams like the Ninilchik will be forever changed. We're all part of the process.

    I can't tell a hatchery fish from a wild fish when on my line or on my plate. I don't see the problem. Stocking programs didn't kill the Little Su or Willow. I have no reason to suspect they'll kill the Ninilchik.

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    Spoke with Ms. Szarzi today.

    The 50,000 smolts planted into the creek are in fact the progeny of naturally produced parents... no re-cycling of hatchery fish for broodstock.
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    Default update.

    The program down at Ninilchik is not best hatchery practices and in my opinion should be altered further.

    First, only recently hatchery fish have not been used in the egg take. The hatchery fish were not 100 percent marked in the early 90's so there was no way to tell hatchery from wild stocks.

    Second, hatchery fish should behave like wild stocks if hatchery practices are correct - in point of fact hatchery fish in the Ninilchik River return about two weeks latter than wild fish.

    Third, hatchery fish were killed in only one year to keep them from spawning with the wild population. That has stopped and so today about 1/4-1/3 of the spawners above the bridge are hatchery stocks. This means that it will not take long for all fish to have some hatchery component in their genes.

    Fourth, stocking fish all over the place without evaluation of straying into other systems is not good practice.

    Fifth, the drive for opportunity will alter the Ninilchik stream's wild stock which may or may not cause a long term problem for the stock. We live in short time frames and the practices of today may not be known for generations.

    Sixth, ADF&G violated its' own genetic policies when this program started. They are trying to correct the situation the best they can given the opportunity mantra is in play with the ADF&G leadership.

    So at this point Doc is correct to question the rationale for this program, the cost of the program, and to look at options for a different fishery. For some reason we can limit participation or harvest on some systems but are not willing to do it for other systems. The criteria for why this is has not been articulated by ADF&G

    I guess those of us who know hatchery fish cannot replace wild stocks will watch and hope that patterns of misuse from the Pacific N.W. will be limited to a few systems in Alaska. The Ninilchik qualifies as one of those systems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    Spoke with Ms. Szarzi today.

    The 50,000 smolts planted into the creek are in fact the progeny of naturally produced parents... no re-cycling of hatchery fish for broodstock.
    For clarification I should have added that the hatchery raised brood-fish are still used, just not to re-stock Ninilchik River.

    A combination of hatchery and wild broodstock are used for the K-Bay outplants.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    The program down at Ninilchik is not best hatchery practices and in my opinion should be altered further.
    Thanks for that detailed reply, Nerka. These are all important considerations when it comes to "enhancing" fisheries wherever small fragile wild stocks are present. I hope that folks find this thread educational. Too often, the angling public is all too content to see a hatchery program established... hey more fish for me, right... without really considering the costs/risks.

    Allow me to make additional comments on some of your observations

    First, only recently hatchery fish have not been used in the egg take. The hatchery fish were not 100 percent marked in the early 90's so there was no way to tell hatchery from wild stocks.
    Well at least the folks running the program have recognized the error and have taken prudent corrective action.

    Second, hatchery fish should behave like wild stocks if hatchery practices are correct - in point of fact hatchery fish in the Ninilchik River return about two weeks latter than wild fish.
    Nicki confirmed that observation as well... must mean that they are inadvertently selecting for later-timed parents at the collection site. Perhaps a more protracted egg-take that starts earlier in the season would be less risky, but it would certainly be more cumbersome and costly.

    Third, hatchery fish were killed in only one year to keep them from spawning with the wild population. That has stopped and so today about 1/4-1/3 of the spawners above the bridge are hatchery stocks. This means that it will not take long for all fish to have some hatchery component in their genes.
    The corrective action of excluding hatchery fish from the Ninilchik egg-take will help to minimize the ill-effects of hatchery influences/domestication compounded by recycling hatchery fish through the program. That way, any hatchery "strays" that escape the fishery or the collection weirs will be no more than one generation removed from wild-spawned fish. While there is no published data on chinook, in Oregon's Hood River, extensive studies have shown that hatchery winter steelhead derived strictly from in-basin wild broodstock have reproductive fitness similar to wild winter steelhead. Three parent-brood years were surveyed. Naturally spawning hatchery fish (only one generation removed from wild) showed on average 85% reproductive fitness of their wild counterparts. This difference did NOT reach statistical significance... in other words, reproductive fitness of hatchery fish spawning in the wild was statistically indistinguishable from wild spawners... at least so far.

    In contrast, studies in Washington's Kalama River showed that the reproductive fitness of out-of-basin in-bred hatchery fish was almost indistinguishable from ZERO. If these hatchery fish spawned with one another [H x H] , they produced ZERO returning adults. If they spawned with a wild fish [H x W] , the miniscule return was statistically indistinguishable from zero, effectively wasting the entire reproductive potential of the wild fish in the pairing. Fry/smolt were produced from these hatchery pairings, consuming finite resources in the riverine rearing habitat (making that portion unavailable to wild [W x W] fry/smolt), and essentially returning ZERO adult fish. This is one of the major mechanisms by which hatchery practices in the PNW contributed to the decline of wild salmonid populations.

    Most of the ill effects of hatchery strays would be seen in the first generation of wild-spawning. The good news is that with each successive generation of wild-spawning, any deleterious hatchery influences would be naturally selected out. Perhaps capping the hatchery stray-rate to 25% or less would help to sufficiently "dilute" the unwanted hatchery genes on the spawning beds. Until definitive data on reproductive fitness of hatchery chinook comes to light, I would be comfortable with capping the stray-rate at 10% of total escapement as a precautionary approach. Surplus hatchery fish beyond that could either be destroyed, used as broodstock for outplanting, or the carcasses could be used for nutrient enhancement.

    Fourth, stocking fish all over the place without evaluation of straying into other systems is not good practice.
    For the record, none of the K-Bay plants have been observed straying back to Ninilchik.

    Fifth, the drive for opportunity will alter the Ninilchik stream's wild stock which may or may not cause a long term problem for the stock. We live in short time frames and the practices of today may not be known for generations.
    Amen. It took over 100 years to figure out the mechanisms by which "standard" hatchery practices in the PNW were detrimental to wild runs. Alaska is one place where all previous hatchery blunders can and should be avoided.

    Sixth, ADF&G violated its' own genetic policies when this program started. They are trying to correct the situation the best they can given the opportunity mantra is in play with the ADF&G leadership.

    So at this point Doc is correct to question the rationale for this program, the cost of the program, and to look at options for a different fishery. For some reason we can limit participation or harvest on some systems but are not willing to do it for other systems. The criteria for why this is has not been articulated by ADF&G.

    I guess those of us who know hatchery fish cannot replace wild stocks will watch and hope that patterns of misuse from the Pacific N.W. will be limited to a few systems in Alaska. The Ninilchik qualifies as one of those systems.
    I would add Kasilof/Crooked Creek to that short-list, too. But perhaps that's better left to another thread.
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