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Thread: Is the average size of the Kenai sockeye getting smaller?

  1. #1
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    Default Is the average size of the Kenai sockeye getting smaller?

    As someone who has fished Kenai sockeye over the last twenty years as a visitor, I have noticed an increase in the number of smaller reds in Mid July. Last year I personally caught three small reds and a pink that had visible scaring from a net.

    Does any one know if the fish and game monitors the effect the size of gill nets is having on the red population? The nets will obviously create a selection pressure that favors small fish and over time shift the average population size downward. Finally does the fish and game monitor the reproductive fitness of these smaller fish? In other words, do smaller fish make it to spawning grounds? Do they produce similar number of viable eggs as larger fish. Does fry from small fish survive at the same rate as larger ones?

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    Fish this year seem a bit smaller so far but I didn't notice that last year at all, in fact the Russian fish I caught last year seemed really big to me.


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  3. #3

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    Size of nets may be part of it but I would expect amount of feed and competition with other salmon for feed may be a large chunk of the reason they are smaller? As an example, in L Michigan the Wisconsin game and fish started stocked fewer kings in response to fewer forage fish available. The size of the kings has been larger than normal although there are a lot fewer available. I am guessing fewer kings eating more forage fish means larger sized kings? Something similar could be happening with the Kenai sockeyes. From the sound of it sockeye numbers are high which means more competition for food!

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    Quote Originally Posted by limon32 View Post
    Fish this year seem a bit smaller so far but I didn't notice that last year at all, in fact the Russian fish I caught last year seemed really big to me.


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    How did you know the nationality of the fish?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDipper View Post
    How did you know the nationality of the fish?
    I spoke to them, I'm a fish whisperer!


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  6. #6

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    The last several years the Reds were larger than average. This year, they are the smallest on average, that I have seen in thirty years. I don't think commercial fishing has any effect on the size of the future returns. I'm suspecting that large numbers from Bristol Bay and Cook Inlet just depleted their food source in the ocean, or warmer than normal ocean temps affected the amount of available food in the ocean, which resulted in a return of smaller than average size fish.

  7. #7

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    The way we catch & keep fish can have an effect on average fish size especially on one time spawners like salmon. Some think this is already showing in Chinook Stocks but is unlikely to be showing for many years in other salmon stocks in AK. Rod and Reel fishermen are much more guilty of this than commercial net fishermen. That said this one snap shot of small fish is most likely food availability. Eggs laid by smaller usually survive just fine there's most often just less of them.

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    Last year seemed totally normal to me. This year is definitely on the small side.


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    Born in Alaska: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6

  9. #9

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    I was thinking the same, but then my Russian River limits fri-sun were all large fish with 2 tipping 12 lbs. Maybe the second run this year will be heavy with bruisers?

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    Limits we caught last night were all normal size Kenai fish.


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    I was hearing that from everyone last weekend that they were small. We dipped today and I thought they were normal good size reds.

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