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Thread: Susitna sockeye salmon action plan

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default Susitna sockeye salmon action plan

    Yay, its out! http://www.boards.adfg.state.ak.us/f...salmonplan.pdf

    what are your thoughts on the plan?

    I have a lot, but one glaring thing I see is there is no mention of pike management. I sort of consider myself to be a man of action. Pike are known to be a part of the production problem in system. How big a problem is unknown, and needs further study to quantify it. However, while that study is going on, I want to see action! Come on, Fish and Game, kill pike! Yah, you allow sportfishermen to do the deed, but how bout something really effective! If sportfishermen can't curtail the overescapement of reds to the Kenai, then how can you rely upon them to curtail the ever growing pike problem? Lets see some action in the action plan!

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    Default we agree

    WFFF - the absence of a pike discussion in the action plan is disturbing. The good news is that it is in the budget request from ADF&G and CIAA -

    One thing I do not understand is why have limits on the number of pike one can kill. They are an invasive species not a sport fish so we should kill them all in the Northern District.

    The action plan is a start not an end point so I have no major problems with it. It can be modified as information becomes available -

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    Default

    Good read. Sounds like a great start.

    Hope they can come up with full funding and staffing to complete all of these proposed projects timely fashion.
    "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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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default problem in definition

    Almost a thread hijack, but to the pike thing...

    The definition of pike as a sportfish is a big problem. As a sport fish, if they are killed and dumped, it is wanton waste. However, if you release one live, then technically you are releasing a non indigenous fish back into the wild. Oxymoronic, no? But I think to take them off the list of sport fish it has to be done statewide, and thats a big problem in the parts of the state they are native to.

    After the discussion on pike in committee, I understand the Alexander Lake limits much better. Thats the only place in the Valley that has a limit of any kind on pike. I think introducing the discussion as an ACR at the Shellfish meeting was a waste of time and money. We covered it very well at the committee level. I think its a good example of something wrong in the way the whole Board process works. According to Fish and Game: This is the last year of a 10 year study on what size/slot limits will do to a pike population. As soon as ice goes out, F&G is going in to capture pike and do another age/size comp study, to see if the slot limits did anything to change the population dynamics. Changing anything on Alexander Lake pike before they get the chance to complete the study this spring basically nullifies 10 years of work, right at the brink of completion. Though I want to see action right now on pike, I think it would be terribly misdirected to open the gates on pike fishing in Alexander right now. I would like to see them schedule a fall or winter meeting this upcoming winter to review the study, and develop a comprehensive action plan on pike in the valley, that includes Alexander Lake.

    I've discussed the slot limit extensively with Dave in Palmer. We both think it can work. There is some really good research from Minnesota regarding slot limits in lakes. The general theme was that there was no one size fits all slot. Each lake had to have a slot tailored for that lake. Generally speaking, leaving big pike in the lake and killing little pike will give you a two front war against pike numbers: both the angler and the big pike act to limit the total number of pike.

    I don't think there will be very dramatic results from the A. Lake study. Reason being, the 22" slot is the wrong slot for the lake dynamics. 22" is the bare minimum size of what most anglers consider a decent eating size pike- at the most it will weigh a pound and a half, usually much less. 22-30" pike are the most commonly caught pike in flathorn and figure eight lakes, the two most popular lakes in the valley. And most of those do get kept and eaten. Many anglers are eliminated from fishing A lake, because very few want to snowmachine 50 miles each way to bring back a pile of 1 pound pike, even if there is the chance to catch and keep 1 really big pike. Especially since there are many lakes nearby with no limits. The reason 22" was set was that around 70% of the pike in the lake at the time it was imposed were under 22", so it made sense from the numbers to use that. Problem is, its too small to turn on fishermen and urge them to go slaughter all the fish of that size they see.

    I'd like to see a different slot put in place, or simplify it to a bar. 30" is the number I think would work very well, possibly 32". So 30" and under, no limit; over 30" 1 fish a day, 2 fish annually, recorded on the back of your license just as you do rainbow trout. You'd see a lot more people fishing it then, and you would very likely see lower numbers of pike before long.

    If you could add in a regulation to require that all pike under 30" MUST be retained, that would speed the process along even more. Pretty tough thing to work out legally, biologically, and enforcement wise.

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    Default estimating Susitna returns based on the Yentna

    Someone help me out here. Prior to the Su Sonar washing out they compared numbers of returning adults on the Skwentna and Susitna for 5 years. Since then, they estimate the number of main river (Susitna) returning adults by looking at the tributary's (Skwentna's) sonar counts and extrapolating the main Su return estimate from the Skwentna data.

    Because of the size of the two rivers, and the multitude of tribs, I scratch my head wondering if the simple 5 year comparison is a scientifically reliable predictor for Susitna returns. I worry that with the thousands and thousands of miles of watershed the Su system drains, too many factors can influence portions of the SU, yet not affect the Skwentna, and vice verse. I feel like someone slapped a coat of paint on this and called it good, so to speak. Would anyone want to use the counts from the Russian as a reliable indicator for the overall Kenai run? Sounds risky, careless and maybe foolish to me. Yet the Su system is much much larger from a watershed/square miles perspective, I think.

    If anything, I think a better predictor would be to move the Skwentna sonar downstream into the Su. Then we'd at least have an estimate of the main river that is based on a more realistic approach, and could estimate the Skwentna return based on this count.

    Thoughts?

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    Default answer for you

    The sonar was in the mainstem Susitna and it failed for a number of reasons. Fish migrate offshore of the counting range, the banks are not stable, and water level goes up and down in feet so fishwheels do not maintain good catchability. In the early 80's the counter was moved to the Yentna.

    The comparsion is not between the Yentna and Skwentna - was bewteen Yentna and Sunshine Stations which is about river mile 80 on the mainstem of the Susitna. That comparsion came from the Susitna hydro studies. Sockeye went mainly to Larson Lake and a couple of other lakes and the weir counts on those lakes made the Sunshine estimate useful.

    The rub came in with the Bendix unit at Yentna - because the unit counts targets those targets need to be separated by species and the fishwheel is used to do that. Therefore, error in the fishwheel species catch may be a major issue with any sonar counter. The Bendix also undercounted the number of targets. We had a feeling about this back in the 80's and tried to get funding to do the action plan that is being proposed today. I wrote a plan in 1988 and pointed out these very problems. However, some in ADF&G wanted to do mark/recpature studies and I lost the discussion. Today after 4 failed mark/recapturre studies ADF&G is finally going to the weir program - better late than never.

    Hope this helps. Just for your information the orginal goal for the Kenai was based on the relationship of the Russian River to the mainstem Kenai. The ADF&G thought that the Russian was about a third of the Kenai production and so set the goal at 150,000 fish assuming 50,000 were headed for the Russian. That was an error as the system was overharvested and the mainstem could use lots more fish. The goals were slowly raisied to the present levels and part of that is based on doing fry studies in the rearing lakes. That is critical in the Susitna and I am glad to see it is going to happen - if the funding comes in.

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    The "kill'em all" mentality can still mesh with the statewide definition of pike as a sport fish with defined bag limits.

    In this case, and in this region, just make the daily bag 50 pike with 100 in possession.
    "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 Statewide pike management plan

    WFFF, good points on pike and your slot discussion.

    Perhaps a way the Board could address this would be to create a Statewide or Southcentral Northern Pike Management plan that lists the waters (lakes & rivers) in which pike are considered "invasive" or "non-native", and in those systems prescribe particular measures for pike reduction (eradication, if possible, but that's not easy or likely, IMO)...some of those options for pike reduction could be:

    Slot limits (or bar, as WFFF called it)
    exceptions to wanton waste
    higher bag limits
    methods/means liberalizations

    I'm sure there are others...

    Art.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post

    One thing I do not understand is why have limits on the number of pike one can kill. They are an invasive species not a sport fish so we should kill them all in the Northern District.

    Big pike eat little pike while small pike eat salmon only smolt, if you manage for trophy pike fisheries you will have big pike eating little pike and less pike overall, plus a trophy pike fishery increasing the pike fishing pressure throughout the region. Whereas if you use the current management scheme people will come and catch all the big pike and then people will stop fishing for pike and populations of small pike will become larger making it more likely that more salmon smolt are eaten.

    When you find a way to kill them all be sure to let someone know.\


    P.S. Its time for tiger muskies!
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post


    P.S. Its time for tiger muskies!

    I think introducing alien species (with the best of intentions) is what got us into this kettle of fish, no?



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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    Big pike eat little pike while small pike eat salmon only smolt, if you manage for trophy pike fisheries you will have big pike eating little pike and less pike overall, plus a trophy pike fishery increasing the pike fishing pressure throughout the region. Whereas if you use the current management scheme people will come and catch all the big pike and then people will stop fishing for pike and populations of small pike will become larger making it more likely that more salmon smolt are eaten.

    When you find a way to kill them all be sure to let someone know.\


    P.S. Its time for tiger muskies!
    Well, I am working on killing 90 percent of them but it may not pass social muster. Pressure waves can kill fish - just how you make the pressure wave is the issue.

    However, back to the sport fish limits. The assumption with this approach are 1) you have enough effort to manage the pike population to some level; 2) you are willing to live with pike in some form and 3) you cannot treat them as an invasive species thus you cannot waste them. To me all three assumption are subject to discussion. There is no reason to treat an invasive species as a sport fish and wanton waste laws apply. I say kill as many as you want and let the birds eat them or whatever. Second, I doubt that fishing effort in Alaska will be high enough to manage pke to some population structure - a number of pike systems are just off the road system or have access problems.

    I for one am not willing to live with them at this point. Until we exhaust all avenues of control we should not be promoting pike fisheries for recreational uses. That creates a user group who will stop efforts to control them. They should be declared an invasive species and we should go after them with both guns loaded or dynamite or whatever. In addition, we should work hard to control the spread of pike. To me fines and jail time are the way to go on this one - get 45 days in jail for spreading pike around and maybe one would think about doing it - maybe not but it worked for moose poaching on the Kenai.

    I just think ADF&G needs to get on top of this with a concentrated effort - not some low level approach.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ishmael View Post
    I think introducing alien species (with the best of intentions) is what got us into this kettle of fish, no?


    Tiger muskies can't spawn they also happen to eat baby pike and get HUGE!
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Well, I am working on killing 90 percent of them but it may not pass social muster. Pressure waves can kill fish - just how you make the pressure wave is the issue.

    However, back to the sport fish limits. The assumption with this approach are 1) you have enough effort to manage the pike population to some level; 2) you are willing to live with pike in some form and 3) you cannot treat them as an invasive species thus you cannot waste them. To me all three assumption are subject to discussion. There is no reason to treat an invasive species as a sport fish and wanton waste laws apply. I say kill as many as you want and let the birds eat them or whatever. Second, I doubt that fishing effort in Alaska will be high enough to manage pke to some population structure - a number of pike systems are just off the road system or have access problems.

    I for one am not willing to live with them at this point. Until we exhaust all avenues of control we should not be promoting pike fisheries for recreational uses. That creates a user group who will stop efforts to control them. They should be declared an invasive species and we should go after them with both guns loaded or dynamite or whatever. In addition, we should work hard to control the spread of pike. To me fines and jail time are the way to go on this one - get 45 days in jail for spreading pike around and maybe one would think about doing it - maybe not but it worked for moose poaching on the Kenai.

    I just think ADF&G needs to get on top of this with a concentrated effort - not some low level approach.
    Pike have been in the Susitna drainage and the Kenai Drainage for what 30 years? I'd personally rather have a lot of big pike to catch and no salmon than a lot of little pike which are boring to catch and have no salmon. Furthermore pretty much every pike eradication project ever has failed. Its time to live with pike and manage them as a game fish rather than a trash fish. Especially in high use roadside fisheries.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    P.S. By comparing smolt outputs to adult imputs between systems with pike like shell, redshirt, trapper etc. and systems without pike (byers larsen etc.) the department can look at pike influence on smolt production.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  15. #15

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    You can't put toothpaste back in a tube and you can't fish pike out of a system. If you want to get rid of pike you have to chemically kill the watershed/lake and start all over again. I'm in favor of managing a fishery for pike, especially the upper Valley.

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    Default no choice

    First, there is no choice here on keeping pike or trying to get rid of them. State and Federal law will come into play. I am in the process of preparing an endangered species request for certain sockeye and coho systems in the Susinta/Northern District as a result of pike prediation on native wild stocks of salmon.

    I have not sent it in and will not do so until I see how the money comes out of Juneau this session for pike studies. There is one million dollars requested and if it is funded then the State is going forward and I will back off. However, if the State fails to move on this I will file the petition.

    Second, you can kill pike in a number of ways. For example we have a local lake near Soldotna and by putting excess nutruients into it just prior to winter or under the ice we may be able to oxygen kill most of the pike in the system Other ways to deal with pike are available and yes you may have to have a kill and restocking program.

    Further - ADF&G needs to stop the spread of pike with a concentrated effort - there are plans on the table for the Kenai watershed that involve barriers to migration and other actions - they need serious consideration

    I am also advocating for an expert panel that includes people from outside Alaska to discuss this issue and to have that panel be a permanent part of ADF&G's long range plan to deal with pike.

    There is no option here for keeping this invasive species until these other measures have failed. So while those who like to catch pike may want them in the Susitna the fact is they need to understand giving up wild salmon for a pike fishery is not an option.

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    A) All commercially caught fish should be subjected to genetic scale sampling so that we can find out exactly where the commercially caught fish are going. If the topic is salmon stocks, it starts there.

    B) There is no bag or possession limit and no closed season for pike in the Su drainage that I'm aware of. Kill 'em all if you can catch them.

    ADFG has taken the stance that the northern district salmon decline is a pike issue. I don't think that's the whole answer. Pike and salmon have coexisted in the system for many years. In that time the efficiency of the commercial industry and the increase of sportfishing are the big changes. Sport fishing has paid the price for the declines, yet commercial fishing continues with no effort made to identify the destination of the fish taken. We have the technology right now to identify where these fish are headed. Why ADFG hasn't required the genetic identification of commercially caught fish is irresponsible. Any talk from ADFG about the management of our salmon resources is nothing more than hot air. The first step to managing is gathering information.

    If the commercial harvesting of OUR salmon resources isn't contributing to the declines in the northern district, why won't the commercial folks submit scale samples? And why won't OUR governor force them to? Why wouldn't we want to know?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Pid View Post
    A) All commercially caught fish should be subjected to genetic scale sampling so that we can find out exactly where the commercially caught fish are going. If the topic is salmon stocks, it starts there.

    B) There is no bag or possession limit and no closed season for pike in the Su drainage that I'm aware of. Kill 'em all if you can catch them.

    ADFG has taken the stance that the northern district salmon decline is a pike issue. I don't think that's the whole answer. Pike and salmon have coexisted in the system for many years. In that time the efficiency of the commercial industry and the increase of sportfishing are the big changes. Sport fishing has paid the price for the declines, yet commercial fishing continues with no effort made to identify the destination of the fish taken. We have the technology right now to identify where these fish are headed. Why ADFG hasn't required the genetic identification of commercially caught fish is irresponsible. Any talk from ADFG about the management of our salmon resources is nothing more than hot air. The first step to managing is gathering information.

    If the commercial harvesting of OUR salmon resources isn't contributing to the declines in the northern district, why won't the commercial folks submit scale samples? And why won't OUR governor force them to? Why wouldn't we want to know?
    Scale samples just tell you the age of the fish and ADF&G takes a lot of scale samples and genetic information throughout the fishing season
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Default Mr. Pid - where have you been

    Mr. Pid - ADF&G did sample the commercial fishery the last three years with genetic methods. There is a report out and stuides are ongoing. Not sure where you are coming from -

    Also, the comment about no restrictions in the commercial fishery is just plain wrong - look at the Northern District set nets and restricted areas for the drift gill net fleet.

    I assume you must be new to this issue not to know this stuff. I would suggest you read the ADF&G reports and then get back to us.

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    Where have I been? For 40 years I've been fishing the northern district. The last 20 from my front yard. The trends that I've watched don't match what ADFG is saying.

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