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Thread: Role of Pike in the Susitna River and Kenai River

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    Default Role of Pike in the Susitna River and Kenai River

    I am starting this thread to get some feedback on what role pike should play in Alaska sport fisheries- specifically in UCI.

    ADF&G appears to have multiple personality disorder on this issue. Recently they increased the number of lines one could use in two lakes on the peninisula to catch pike. However, there are other lakes in UCI where this is not being done. In addition, they net pike out of some lakes but have not put forward a comprehensive plan to deal with pike in UCI. It appears very haphazard.

    In the Susitna and Kenai River drainage ADF&G calls pike an invasive species and wants to control them but they also tesitfy at hearings and in publications how great a sport fish they are and even went so far as to try and regulate them as a trophy fish in some early discussions. They promote pike fishing in a number of publications - not for control but to identifiy lakes that are good for sport fishing opportunity.

    I am wondering how far we should go to control pike and why people who enjoy pike fishing have continued to introduce them into salmon systems.
    I see a clash of fishing culture here which is playing out with little discussion or systematic approach to dealing with it.

    Any comments?

  2. #2

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    I don’t fish the Kenai that often and I don’t know what the UCI is, but I can tell you from the local stocked lakes the other species of fish do not last long. In Lower Fire Lake the stocked rainbow will only last a couple of months before they are wiped out by mainly pike and somewhat by anglers.

    I hear Jim Creek off the Knik River has been infiltrated by pike. It will be interesting to see how long the salmon runs will last. I have not witnessed a pike being pulled out of this water system but if the myth is true I am willing to bet there wont be much salmon within the next 10 years.

    Seriously, pike being introduced and considered a "trophy fish" in our major salmon fisheries is not a good idea. I can imagine trophy salmon fisheries would dwindle to your average highly controlled local salmon stream. There are plenty of highly respected pike fisheries to where Alaska does not need to jeopardize our extremely prized salmon fisheries.

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    SO whats up in states like Minnesota,,where the pike and walleye and other fish are fine together.But up here its a big deal.What about the pike in the Yukon River,,isnt that a problem,Never hear about it being a problem....Just Curious,,,

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    I can see where ADF&G has different policies, different systems require different regulations. Trophy pike are not necessarily bad. The only way to get rid of pike is to poison the water and IMO that probably won't do it and probably won't fly environmentally.
    Trophy pike eat little pike, a few large pike will get rid of a lot of those hammer handles that do the most damage to rainbows and salmon. I am no expert on pike but it appears there are here to stay and will have to be dealt with. It will be interesting to see where ADF&G goes, it looks like they are trying different approaches to see what works biologically and socially. They are in a very difficult position thanks to those that illegally stocked the fish.

  5. #5

    Default pike

    Well, in states like Minnesota the food base is much more diverse and pike have many species to dine on. Not so in many of the Alaskan lakes/rivers where pike have been introduced.....

    Nerka, I agree with you about ADF&G and their approach to pike. Mix messages everywhere. The current rules try to eliminate pike by harvest/nets. It won't work. The only way to get rid of pike is to chemically kill the lake or river and start over. This method has been used in states like Minnesota and is the only way to eliminate an "invasive" species. You know as well as I do that this will not be allowed in Alaska. My conclusion is that since the pike are here they should be managed for sport fishing. Almost reminds me of the history of Dolly Varden and the "bounty" that was placed on them.

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    I see the pike as ONLY bad news.

    They have established a foothold (?finhold) in the Kenai River drainage and pose a significant threat to coho stocks, especially in the frogwater of the Moose River drainage that serves as a MAJOR nursery for juvenile coho.

    They should be aggressively culled out of the system as much as is humanly possible. No limits on sportcaught pike. Unlimited spearing of pike. Aggressive trapping/netting of prespawn pike. It may not get rid of them all, but it should put a significant dent in their impact to the system.

    Introduction of invasive flora and fauna has the same consequences everywhere... disruption of the native ecosystem that took eons to develop naturally.

    Another invasive threat to salmon production, for example, is some sort of non-native grass (maybe neka can help with the name) that chokes out frogwater habitats important to juvenile salmon, esp coho.
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    Default

    Pike are here to stay. I do not see any environmentally safe way to completely remove them. I agree that Fish and Game are putting forth some bipolar policies. I hope that many are mistaken and that their effect is minimal on salmon populations.

    Netting the pike in Cheney lake made no sense to me. They are not stocking trout because of pike in a landlocked lake, but they netted catchable fish??? What are the kids to do besides get in trouble or play video games?

    I would like to see some of the sampling numbers on upper Yentna lakes that support salmon runs (reds mostly I believe). There are some pike and after years of pike there are still active salmon runs. I went a lake last fall with so many salmon carcasses my fish finder almost melted down. The bears were there and so were the pike.

    I still don't know if I agree that some "person" is walking around with a bucket of pike. Pike are very tough and can live out of water for a few hours. What about in salt/brackish water? What about float planes (Lower Fire) carrying fry in their floats? I don't know if Spenard or Lake Hood have pike? Anyone know?

    I have heard that pike made it to Jim Creek, but have not heard of anyone catching one there. I will try in the spring.

  8. #8

    Default Value of Pike

    Pike have some value, but it is microscopic compared to Rainbow trout and Salmon. (Sorry to Minnesota Pike lovers but that's the fact). No one will fly to Alaska and spend a ton of money to catch Pike. Unfortunately they are so tough it's pretty much impossible to get rid of them now, all that can be done is to try and keep the numbers down and try to prevent them spreading to more fisheries. I will fish for pike over stocked fish, but only in the winter when there is nothing else to do. (Like tomorrow).
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

  9. #9

    Default no one?

    I disagree that no one will spend money on pike trips. There are several lodges/outfitters on the Yukon drainage/Minto area that cater to pike fisherman. Also, talk to the float plane guys in the Valley that fly into Alexander, etc about no one coming to Alaska to spend money on pike fishing. It's not a huge market for Alaskan fishing but people do it and enjoy it.

    I think back to an article that Craig Medred wrote in the Anchorage paper about pike fishing. The article was meant for Alaskans and ADF&G. In essence he said, "the pike are here, get use to it." It was a call to manage the fishery....

  10. #10

    Default pike

    I don't think I made my thoughts entirely clear. Like you Wildog and fishNphysician, I would like to prevent the spread of pike into other fisheries. I'm not pro-pike in that sense. But, where the pike are you either need to chemically kill the water and start over, or manage the species......You can't put toothpaste back in the tube.

  11. #11

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    What do you think a tourist would rather take home a picture of? Holding a 5" to 9" Stocked Rainbow Trout OR Holding a 40" Pike Fact is more and more fishermen are chartering flights to go catch Pike. Less and less are chartering to go catch rainbows. Even the lodges are spending more time learning the Pike's ways and targeting them, due to the demands of the fishermen they are catering to. I have seen float planes jump from lake to lake, with grass dragging out the back of the rudders. What If? That grass had fertile pike eggs attached and what if that grass fell off upon landing. Lots of possibilities out there, and I don't buy into the theory that people are doing all the transporting of the pike. Funny thing about water, it is very fluid and not a constant. Lots of theories are based on the actual conditions the theorist witnessed on a given period of time, or in some cases the day they were there.

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    Talking Evolution-in-process. . .


    Personally, I think it's evolution.

    Pike are lots better eating than are rainbow.

    Ergo — we are evolving toward catch-and-release-in-bacon-grease fisheries.


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    The role of pike should be to test poisons and other methods of eliminating pike until they are all gone. I'd like to get my grip on the throat of the person who thought it'd be a good idea to put some pike in Sevena lake and other parts of the Kenai system.
    Last edited by Daveinthebush; 01-15-2007 at 11:19. Reason: lang.

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    Default Eggs

    The eggs of pike can be transfered through grass on props and by birds.

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    Default Pike in the valley..

    I caught my first pike while trout fishing in Red Shirt Lake in the late 70's. We caught several in the 30' range that day. At that time noone wanted to believe me that I caught them there, and there was very good rainbow fishing, a large run of both reds and silvers in the summer, and lots of suckers in the lake. Now, the salmon are gone, the rainbows are all but gone, and I have seen very few suckers in the past several years. I used to hate the pike with a passion and killed off as many as I could. However, I have noticed some interesting things over the last few years. First, the burbot really like eating little pike! I have witnessed very large burbot hanging in the shallows and sabotaging baby pike! I have also cut open large lakers and found whole pike up to 12" long inside. And I LOVE to watch the eagles swoop in and pick up the pike and take them to their nests. My kids love to catch them, and I've decided that along with burbot, they are about the best tasting fish in Alaska. And in fact, I've seen fish jumping in the lake recently that actually resemble rainbow trout although I havent caught a rainbow in Red Shirt in 15 years. The salmon are still gone, but is it possible that real balances really occur?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cubpilot View Post
    I've seen fish jumping in the lake recently that actually resemble rainbow trout although I havent caught a rainbow in Red Shirt in 15 years. The salmon are still gone, but is it possible that real balances really occur?
    Yes balance does occur...

    BUT....

    the make-up of species in the "new balance" does not resemble anything close to what was there in the native state. Your example of extirpation of the salmon and the decimation of the rainbow in Red Shirt Lake is a perfect example.

    I've heard the sockeye in the Nancy Lake system are in BIG trouble due to pike predation. Wouldn't be surprised to see that run dwindle to nothing in the next few generations.
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    Smile Time marches on. . .

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    BUT....the make-up of species in the "new balance" does not resemble anything close to what was there in the native state. Your example of extirpation of the salmon and the decimation of the rainbow in Red Shirt Lake is a perfect example.

    I've heard the sockeye in the Nancy Lake system are in BIG trouble due to pike predation. Wouldn't be surprised to see that run dwindle to nothing in the next few generations.
    What am I missing here? Seriously, aren't these simply instances of evolution-in-process? Is there anything particularly sacrosanct about some supposed "native state"?

    What constitutes a "native state" anyway? There is no such thing; everything is in flux and human beings and our technologies are and have been part of the equation for thousands of years.

    One species may "dwindle to nothing in the next generations." but since nature hates a vacuum, another species will take its place.


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    Default Evolution?

    To my knowledge, the only place pike even existed in Southcentral was in Bull****na Lake, basically bordering Lake Creek, until about 30 years ago. Those fish were reportedly planted 30 years or so prior to that. I was under the impression that evolution was considered to be a matter of natural selection, by nature herself, and not one born of man-made actions. A natural mutation taking 10's of 1000's of years for a species to adapt to a changing environment. I guess I dont really have a problem with a "new balance" if that exists, since I can really do nothing about it I might as well try and find some good in it. But if these pike were in fact illegally introduced say, 60+ years ago, I would not call the results "evolution", I would call them criminal. And that in itself is a pointless accusation as the likely culprits are long dead and buried.

  19. #19

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    Pike can coexist with salmonids in some watersheds where they are native and the balance is stable. In southcentral lakes they are eating up all of the other species. If Pike can get a stronghold on the Kenai, they will upset the balance and our salmon and trout #s will decline. Pike are a great sportfish and fine eating too, but they should not be illegaly introduced into any watershed.
    One option on getting rid of them might be stocking Tiger Muskies. They are a hybrid that cannot reproduce and they eat anything that swims. Once the pike are gone and the Tigers die off or caught, restocking of native species could resume.

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    Default tiger muskies....

    I recall reading about the Tiger Muskie solution in the news a few years ago..sort of a "terminator" for pike? How expensive would that be? Sure sounds like a better alternative to poisoning a lake.

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