Dear ADF&G Sportfish Division;
I would like to enter my comments regarding the state wide stocking plan. I have been an Alaskan fisherman for 17 years during my time in Eagle River and Juneau. It seems that Alaska’s capital city is continually neglected in annual stocking.
Juneau has a long history of failed enhancement activity, but most failures have occurred because of lake of commitment from the state, as well as Douglas Island Pink and Chum (DIPAC). For example in the 80s the state stocked Montana Creek with steelhead, however less than ten thousand smolt were stocked resulting in a best case scenario of 50 or less returning adults this is far from the amount required for a sustainable sport fishery. Another example of lack of desire for diversified fisheries in the Juneau area is the allowed failure of the enhancement projects in the man made dredge lakes, which produced a run of 4,000 coho until stocking was discontinued because of an unsustainable population of wild fish due too poor fish passage into the system and lack of spawning habitat.
Compared to the rest of the state population centers Juneau has very little enhancement of fish important to sport fisheries. For instance Kodiak population ~8,000 has 3 streams stocked with chinook, one stream stocked with coho 11 lakes stocked with coho (many will go out to sea and return to increase freshwater opportunities), and 18 lakes stocked with rainbow trout, this is in addition to Kodiak’s world class year round wild fisheries. By comparison Juneau has 1 stream where Chinook are stocked, and 1 lake where subcatchable chinook and coho are stocked. Juneau has no year round fisheries, and very fragile wild fisheries which studies show may be in threat of overexploitation if significant freshwater catch occurs, especially for coho salmon. Furthermore the Twin Lakes fishery is of very little value to most sportfisherman as 6 inch salmon are not very fun to catch and so small they don’t make a good meal. Juneau totally lacks enhanced roadside freshwater fisheries for coho salmon, enhanced fisheries for rainbow or cutthroat trout as well as trophy trout fisheries. Because of this Juneau area fishermen are forced to focus on wild fisheries. Wild coho fisheries are for the most part very small and already fully exploited by saltwater commercial and sport fisheries which are inaccessible to many Juneau residents and visitors. Local trout fishermen focus on abundant dolly varden however cutthroat trout are prized by many given their fighting relatively large size, rarity, and fighting abilities. Currently there are very few opportunities for cutthroat and rainbow trout, with very little chance of trophy quality trout. Lastly the steelhead fishing opportunities in the Juneau area are extremely limited basically to one creek, with an extremely exploited run. Furthermore many communities have in southeast have hatchery steelhead runs including Klawock and Ketchican.
I propose the following policies be implanted:
-Stock Landlocked (class 1) lakes in the dredge lake system with rainbow or cutthroat trout fingerling, designate one to be catch and release only, single hook unbaited artificial lure to allow fish to reach trophy size.
-Stock Twin Lakes with less landlocked salmon to maximize growth
-Stock Non Landlocked (class 3) lakes in the Dredge Lake system with 25,000 coho salmon smolt a year, and possibly triploid cutthroat or rainbow trout. Cohos were not present until stocked in this system before so genetic integrity will remain intact.
-Stock imprinted Coho in Fish Creek Pond, Sheep Creek and Auke Creek much like the Chinook fishery, fin clip to avoid passage of hatchery fish upstream to Auke lake these will diversify saltwater opportunities for shore based coho anglers.
-Investigate the possibilities of late releasing coho salmon to provide a year round “resident coho” fishery much like the fishery in Puget Sound Washington.
-Study the possibilities of Steelhead enhancement in the Juneau area while preserving the genetic integrity of local wild runs.
Current hatchery production can easily allow for a coho salmon stocking program as described above especially if current coho production is diverted from twin lakes and Gastineau channel stocking. Rainbow or cutthroat trout stocking would have to be paid for by the state however its only fair that Juneau residents get some return for their hatchery surcharge paid for when they buy their license.