Very interesting piece in the current issue of the Redoubt Reporter . . click on the title for the entire article, brief excerpt below:

Tips from the scales — Read between the lines to learn salmon data

. . . For instance, king sizes in the Kenai have seen a downward trend. Does that mean the fish are returning when younger and, thus, smaller? Or are today’s spawners roughly as old when they return as they were decades ago, but just haven’t grown as big as they used to — indicating, perhaps, something awry with the productivity of their ocean environment?

With state funding through the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative to investigate why the state’s king runs have been dwindling in recent years, the more global implications of these questions could receive additional attention.

Collecting and aging scales on stocks for which escapement is tracked is nothing new for Fish and Game. Regional offices use the data to construct brood tables and help estimate future runs. But one project funded through the research initiative expands that effort. It calls for creating a database of ASL data for 12 indicator stocks of king salmon around the state, for as far back as regional Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices have it.

The Kenai River is designated as one of 12 indicator king salmon stocks in the state, along with the Unuk, Stikine, Taku, Chilkat, Copper, Susitna, Karluck, Chignik, Nushagak, Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers. So the Soldotna office sent its king scale data to Juneau for as far back as it goes — about 50,000 scales dating back to 1986, Eskelin said.

At this point the goal is to just amass the information in one place. . . .