Page 1 of 6 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 103

Thread: Late Run Kenai Kings: Why so many jacks?

  1. #1
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Aberdeen WA
    Posts
    4,516

    Default Late Run Kenai Kings: Why so many jacks?

    A while back we had a discussion about harvesting "jacks" in the late run...

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=10281

    A lot of issues came up in that thread, but it all started with the the allegation that late run jacks are being underharvested. After reading that thread again, I would have to say that for me the jury is still out. I would like to challenge the premise that "jacks are underharvested" with an alternate hypothesis. Perhaps the real reason we have so many dinks in the river is because big kings are being overharvested.

    I have been working on an article about my theory on why jacks dominate the front end of the late run. I would be interested in any constructive feedback. Read on!

    Age-class shift in Kenai River late run kings

    In recent years, a disturbing trend has been observed in the age-class composition of late run kings returning to the Kenai River. Some time in the first week of July, large numbers of small 2-ocean kings (virtually all male) begin to enter the river. This phenomenon persists for two to three weeks during which 2-ocean males greatly outnumber 3-ocean kings, males and females combined. Some years they even outnumber the 4-ocean fish. What would cause this dramatic age-class shift where puny 6- to 12-pound bucks dominate the run in the first two to three weeks of July?

    I suspect it’s because very unnatural selection pressures are affecting late run fish returning in the first three weeks of July. The sportfishery is now in its fourth decade of selectively harvesting the larger fish that historically dominated the run. As the fishery has expanded and matured, the focus on targeting the biggest kings has persisted. And because of several factors, more and more of the angling effort for king salmon has shifted from May and June over to July.

    Compared to the late run, king salmon are considerably less abundant in the early run. The early run numbers have also been much more erratic from year to year. When the Killey River releases its annual mid-June mudflow into the mainstem Kenai, the river is much less conducive to angling success. With a prohibition on using bait, it becomes very difficult to entice a salmon to bite a plain artificial lure in these limited visibility conditions. Additionally, the early run slot limit requires anglers to release all kings measuring 44-55 inches. As if things weren’t tough enough, this means anglers will statistically have to release about one out of every four kings they are lucky enough to land in May and June. Many anglers elect to forgo king salmon fishing until a change in numbers, conditions, and/or regulations begins to better stack the odds in their favor. Not surprisingly, this occurs on July 1.

    July offers a much more plentiful late run, the unrestricted ability to use bait, and the complete freedom to harvest ANY size king salmon. Throw in the bonus opportunity to catch abundant late run sockeye, and it’s easy to see why both resident and visiting anglers would rather choose to fish in July, particularly the last two weeks when both the king and red runs are at their peak.

    What all that angling effort in July really means for late run kings is increased exploitation, especially so for the earliest returning fish. A late run king salmon’s vulnerability in the fishery is directly proportional to how early it arrives. Simply said, the earlier a king enters the Kenai, the more likely it is to perish in the fishery. A fish entering the river on July 1 will be susceptible to harvest for 31 days, while a fish arriving on July 31 will be susceptible for only one day. By the time the season closes on August 1, most of the late run kings harvested in July are in fact the fish that returned earlier in the month. Moreover, because the fishery is selective for large fish, it’s the biggest of the earliest returning late run kings that take the brunt of the exploitation.

    After 35 years of targeting the biggest late run kings, is it any wonder that the unnatural selection pressures exerted by the fishery have preferentially depleted the older larger kings at the front end of the run?
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    3,077

    Default

    For the love of all Gods looking over the fishing world...............

    WHY DOC, WHY...

    and I haven't yet read the article! LOL

  3. #3
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Aberdeen WA
    Posts
    4,516

    Default

    Well someone had to do it...


    Besides, I had to post something in honor of the 2007 sonar count starting in the next half hour.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  4. #4
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Thumbs up Saving the salmon. . .

    What you say sounds reasonable, Francis, but will certainly make you unpopular with guides, KRSA, and other commercial sportfishing interests.

    Granted you're right, what's the solution? How in the name of the fish gods do you propose to put the brakes on the "economic engine" the late run has become?

    "Though the fate of salmon rests in human hands, it is not clear that we will be able to save them even if our society wants to. Part of the problem lies in the conflict between the inherent uncertainty of the natural sciences and the certainty demanded by policy makers when balancing natural resource protection against economic opportunities." (King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon, Montgomery, Westview Press, 2003)



  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    soldotna
    Posts
    527

    Default

    Great topic Doc.... I'd love to see some statistics on this phenomenon. I seem to remember researching this topic about a year or so ago, and if my memory serves me correctly, the statistics I found didn't back up what everyone has noticed on the river - that in recent years there are more "jacks," or fish in the ~8-15 pound range than there were in years past.
    Maybe the stats I saw were bogus, or maybe you know of some updated stats that fit your theory. I can envision putting together a real nice graph that illustrates what you are saying. All that being said, I don't need a graph to realize that what you say is true. I've seen it with my own eyes time and time again.... there are certain days when I might see 100 fish caught, but not one of them over 20 pounds. I don't remember that happening 10 years ago.
    As a guide (or any fisherman for that matter) it's incredibly difficult to justify bonking one of these fish on the head, because as you know, once you kill one you're done for the day. I'm sure you can all understand that a 12 pounder isn't exactly what someone paying in the neighborhood of $200 for a fishing trip has in mind when he/she comes to the Kenai. It's my job to provide the best possible experience for my clients, and ruining a client's chance at a hog by bonking a dink isn't the way to do it. I'd love to see an effort to reverse this artificial selection you speak of, but I'm not sure just how to go about doing it. Do you increase the limit on smaller fish? what are the consequenses of such a regulation? do you extend the slot limit into July? what are the economic consequences?
    There are so many things to think about, and there doesn't seem to be a perfect solution (as usual) but if anyone has any ideas that they can back up, i'd love to hear them.
    Mark W.
    www.akfishology.com

    fishing isn't about life or death... it's more important than that.

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    607

    Default

    Among the many theories around there is one that jacks breed jacks. By increasing the harvest of salmon under 28" the survival of larger salmon fry would be enhanced. I don't know if this is true however the KAFC and KRSA have both submitted proposals to the board of fish to increase harvest and retention of salmon in that size range.

    On another note, KRSA has a program called "Release a Hawg - take home a trophy" providing $800 toward a fiberglass mount of any Kenai River king over 50" that is released during the month of July. Certain rules and conditions apply. Obviously they think that big fish breed big fish. You can contact jennifer@kenairiversportfishing.com for details.

  7. #7
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Default Economics versus science. . .

    As a guide (or any fisherman for that matter) it's incredibly difficult to justify bonking one of these fish on the head, because as you know, once you kill one you're done for the day. I'm sure you can all understand that a 12 pounder isn't exactly what someone paying in the neighborhood of $200 for a fishing trip has in mind when he/she comes to the Kenai. It's my job to provide the best possible experience for my clients, and ruining a client's chance at a hog by bonking a dink isn't the way to do it. I'd love to see an effort to reverse this artificial selection you speak of, but I'm not sure just how to go about doing it. Do you increase the limit on smaller fish? what are the consequenses of such a regulation? do you extend the slot limit into July? what are the economic consequences?. . .

    Among the many theories around there is one that jacks breed jacks. By increasing the harvest of salmon under 28" the survival of larger salmon fry would be enhanced. I don't know if this is true however the KAFC and KRSA have both submitted proposals to the board of fish to increase harvest and retention of salmon in that size range.

    On another note, KRSA has a program called "Release a Hawg - take home a trophy" providing $800 toward a fiberglass mount of any Kenai River king over 50" that is released during the month of July. Certain rules and conditions apply. Obviously they think that big fish breed big fish. You can contact jennifer@kenairiversportfishing.com for details.
    "Part of the problem lies in the conflict between the inherent uncertainty of the natural sciences and the certainty demanded by policy makers when balancing natural resource protection against economic opportunities."


  8. #8
    Member Sierra Hotel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Chugiak
    Posts
    637

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    Age-class shift in Kenai River late run kings

    In recent years, a disturbing trend has been observed in the age-class composition of late run kings returning to the Kenai River. Some time in the first week of July, large numbers of small 2-ocean kings (virtually all male) begin to enter the river. This phenomenon persists for two to three weeks during which 2-ocean males greatly outnumber 3-ocean kings, males and females combined. Some years they even outnumber the 4-ocean fish.
    Would be good to quote data and sources here . .

    What would cause this dramatic age-class shift where puny 6- to 12-pound bucks dominate the run in the first two to three weeks of July?
    The source of your inquiry . . .

    ". . . unnatural selection pressures are affecting late run fish returning in the first three weeks of July. "
    Your hypothesis . . .

    What all that angling effort in July really means for late run kings is increased exploitation, especially so for the earliest returning fish. A late run king salmon’s vulnerability in the fishery is directly proportional to how early it arrives. Simply said, the earlier a king enters the Kenai, the more likely it is to perish in the fishery. A fish entering the river on July 1 will be susceptible to harvest for 31 days, while a fish arriving on July 31 will be susceptible for only one day. By the time the season closes on August 1, most of the late run kings harvested in July are in fact the fish that returned earlier in the month. Moreover, because the fishery is selective for large fish, it’s the biggest of the earliest returning late run kings that take the brunt of the exploitation.


    How does this increase the number of jacks? Jacks breed jacks? I think the genetics are looser than that, but don't have any data to support that either . . .

    After 35 years of targeting the biggest late run kings, is it any wonder that the unnatural selection pressures exerted by the fishery have preferentially depleted the older larger kings at the front end of the run?
    An interesting topic, I hope to see it in print some day.

    SH

  9. #9
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Default Problem?

    Well, what about it, Francis?

    Do we really have a shortage of big kings or is the problem simply that we have too many jacks, which only makes it look like we have too few lunkers?

    Jacks are under-harvested because everyone wants a hawg, and jacks breed jacks, don't you know.

    Problem? What problem?


  10. #10
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Aberdeen WA
    Posts
    4,516

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    Well, what about it, Francis?

    ...


    Problem? What problem?
    My take on it?

    Yeah, we got a problem. Big late run fish that used to lead the pack at the front end of the late run have preferentially been overharvested for the past 35 years.

    But hey, that's just the opinion of a podunk country doc.

    Will post more stats from ADFG when I get home tonight... gotta get back to the operating room.... seven down, seven to go.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  11. #11
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Default Running out of gas?

    Relax, Francis. . . that was tongue-in-cheek.

    I'm probably on your side this time. What with the mortality of catch-and-release, selective bonking of big fish, releasing dinks—all accomplished over a short time interval—it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the run is likely getting screwed over in some fashion or another.

    But heaven forbid that KRSA's economic engine should cough, sputter or run out of gas. . .


  12. #12
    Member sayak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Central peninsula, between the K-rivers
    Posts
    5,790

    Default Why so many late-run jacks?

    Like all precocious youngsters on their way to "hook up" they were speeding, and were stopped by the authorities, thus arriving late.








    It's ajoke. Sorry. You're all too serious!

  13. #13
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Aberdeen WA
    Posts
    4,516

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by markw3 View Post
    Great topic Doc.... I'd love to see some statistics on this phenomenon....
    I've seen it with my own eyes time and time again.... there are certain days when I might see 100 fish caught, but not one of them over 20 pounds. I don't remember that happening 10 years ago.
    Like the wise Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi once said, "Trust your feelings, boy..." Why would you doubt the truth revealed by your own eyes? Anybody who spends any time on the water in the first three weeks of July knows that there is a solid 14-18 day period starting in the first week of July where it's dammed tough to break double digits, let alone 20 pounds. The healthy wave of big July fish will not arrive until late in the third week, perhaps around July 19, 20, or 21. Check your logs boys, and you can confirm it for yourselves. Last year the breakout day for big fish was July 21. ADFG's week-by-week age-composition stats are definitely there to support our on-the-water observations, Mark. Just not sure that I am "officially" allowed to release the numbers in a public forum just yet.


    It's my job to provide the best possible experience for my clients, and ruining a client's chance at a hog by bonking a dink isn't the way to do it. I'd love to see an effort to reverse this artificial selection you speak of, but I'm not sure just how to go about doing it. Do you increase the limit on smaller fish? what are the consequenses of such a regulation? do you extend the slot limit into July? what are the economic consequences?

    Mark W.
    Not sure what the solution is either, Mark, but I am a bit uneasy about the groundswell of support for increasing exploitation on jacks above and beyond the bag limits already in effect for bigger fish. Increasing the harvest of these LR2-o fish may compensate for the existing selective harvest of larger older fish, but I worry about that approach possibly pushing total exploitation on the front end of the run to unsustainable levels. The precautionary principle should rule the day.

    A more conservative approach would be to keep overall exploitation the same, but somehow redistribute the harvest to target more LR2-o kings. Simply said, that means we gotta stop bonking all the hawgs that come to the gunnel!

    Marcus has said he may be on my side with this one, but I'm not so sure he will like my solution. It's already been said that my phonograph only plays one tired worn out record... and I gotta admit, since 2001 I have been on a crusade to let the biggun's go. Well here it is again folks..... slot limit thru at least mid-July.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  14. #14
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Thumbs down Catch and release not the answer. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    A more conservative approach. . .
    Marcus has said he may be on my side with this one, but I'm not so sure he will like my solution. It's already been said that my phonograph only plays one tired worn out record... and I gotta admit, since 2001 I have been on a crusade to let the biggun's go. Well here it is again folks..... slot limit thru at least mid-July.
    While I likely buy your assessment of the problem, Francis, I don't buy your solution, which only slows things down by means of the slower—but equally lethal—mortality of catch-and-release.

    A more conservative approach—to use your own words—would be your first two kings over 20" and you're off the water. Keep them or let them go, but you're gone.

    Think it over. We've got KRSA and Bob Penny working overtime to crank up the economic engine of second-run kings—more fish, more access, more launches, more boats, more fishermen. How long will your stop-gap, catch-and-release, finger-in-the dyke hold back the future of where these guys are pushing to take the fishery? A dead fish is a dead fish whether bonked or played to death. . . not to mention the ones played so hard they haven't the vitality left to dig a decent redd and spawn.

    Self-control, Francis, self-control. . .


  15. #15
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    3,077

    Default

    Marcus,
    How strongly to do believe in a 2 and done rule with no C&R?

  16. #16
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    2,008

    Default

    I think the Doc is pretty close to the mark on this.
    Assuming he is correct and that targeted harvest of big early second run kings has effectively eliminated that genetic tendency from the collective Kenai gene pool...and given the regulatory (and economic) incentive NOT to keep smaller kings then why not raise the size and bag limit on Jacks.

    Lets say up from 28" to 32" and up to 2 or 3 per day with no retention allowed of kings over 45" allowed before the 15th of July

    I know that a true jack is sexually immature but I have never seen one under 30 inches.

  17. #17
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    5,639

    Unhappy Lost again. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Marcus,
    How strongly to do believe in a 2 and done rule with no C&R?

    What kind of question is that? How strongly do you want me to believe and why? Are we working on a scale of one to ten here? What?

    Totally lost. . . again. . .

    Sorry. . . help me out . . .


  18. #18
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    soldotna
    Posts
    527

    Default

    Once again, I don't have the statistics here, but I would bet that the mortality rate on C&R kings isn't all that high. Of course, they have to be revived sufficiently, but the big boys seem to be pretty resilient to me. I'm not arguing with you Marcus, I'm just wondering if you have numbers to back what you're saying? I would have to agree with Doc on this one so far.... slot limit through mid july or so, as imperfect as it might be, is probably the most plausible solution....... assuming that there is a jack problem, and C&R mortality rates aren't too high of course. Slot limit through July seems extreme, but maybe not so much when you think about past years when the river has gone to C&R altogether on low fish years; it's certainly more liberal than that, and we got through those years.
    A slot limit may have the ability to turn the Kenai River into a trophy C&R salmon fishery as opposed to a meat fishery (which it seems to be now). I still believe we'd have tourists and clients coming out our ears under this scenario. On the other hand, not doing anything has the potential to ruin the reputation of a trophy fishery, which isn't good for anyone.
    www.akfishology.com

    fishing isn't about life or death... it's more important than that.

  19. #19
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Aberdeen WA
    Posts
    4,516

    Default

    Marcus, I could live with the idea of keeping the first two legal fish caught... but I would prefer that it occur within the framework of a slot limit that still protects the big fish that have been overexploited over the past four decades.

    Don't know if counting released fish toward the daily bag could be enforced. It would be pretty clearcut if the fish comes to hand/net. But what if the fish jumps out of the bag, or tears a hole thru the bottom of it and escapes? What about if a guy is fighting a fish and it comes unbuttoned.... did he just perform a "long-distance release" or did he simply lose the fish?

    There has been serious talk about the current levels of forgone harvest on kings not needed for BEG. Some are calling for more liberalized bag limits, liberalized annual limits, and/or a separate daily limit on jacks exempt from the annual limit.

    In my mind, the jury is still out on whether jacks are "underharvested". But the verdict is pretty clear to me that the big kings have been overharvested... and because of how the fishery is structured, it's the ones at the front end of the run that are taking the greatest hit.
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  20. #20
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    3,077

    Default

    Marcus, do you believe strongly enough in keeping the first two kings caught to put it before the BOF and testify in-favor of it?

Page 1 of 6 123 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •