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Thread: Why no trout in the Chena?

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    Member woodman6437's Avatar
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    Question Why no trout in the Chena?

    I was hoping someone smart on fish biology could answer a question for me (and my wife who asked me). Why are there no rainbows in the chena river? Too cold in the winter, bad habitat? The water looks great for them and I would imagine there is plenty of food with the chum and king runs as well as the aquatic insects. On a side note, this weekend I was having fantasies about the Chena having a steelhead run, even though it is way too far from the salt for that. Man that would be awesome.

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    Too far North of there native range.

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Rainbow trout are not native north of the Alaska range except in bristol bay and the kuskokwim
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Member woodman6437's Avatar
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    I figured with all of the rainbow stocking that goes on, eventually some would somehow make it into the chena and start a self sustaining population. Is there anything that would prevent introduced trout from taking hold? Don't worry, I'm not going to dump some trout from a pond into the river, just curious.

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodman6437 View Post
    I figured with all of the rainbow stocking that goes on, eventually some would somehow make it into the chena and start a self sustaining population. Is there anything that would prevent introduced trout from taking hold? Don't worry, I'm not going to dump some trout from a pond into the river, just curious.
    except that the stocked fish are some Triploid thing that is engineered to all be non - breed-able females... for that EXACT reason... those that escape will NOT procreate
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Member woodman6437's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    except that the stocked fish are some Triploid thing that is engineered to all be non - breed-able females... for that EXACT reason... those that escape will NOT procreate
    Vince, I checked the ADF&G stocking info for Fairbanks and it looks like a lot of the lakes are stocked with diploids, which from my understanding have two normal chromosomes and can breed. So, have they just never made it into the Chena and taken hold, or is there something else that would prevent that from ever occuring?

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    I would think that even IF some trout made it up that far, they would have too much competition from the Grayling. They are very prolific fish when given their ideal environment.
    Thank God for people who don't fish!! Not much would get done without them =)

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    Should also ask why we don't have Walleye in the same lakes/ponds we have Pike? Nearly every lake in Canada that has pike has walleye, why not here? Walleye is by far the best tasting fresh water fish..IMO anyway. Maybe I'll start a separate thread with that question...you make a good point.

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    The reason why there are no native Rainbow trout north of the Alaska range is because they were not able to make it over the Alaska range at the end of the last glacial period.
    There are really only 2 ways that stocked Rainbows could get into the Chena is either somebody illegally removing them from a stocked lake and placing them in the Chena or after an extremely large flood where the Chena River floods into Chena Lakes and a few escape before the water receded back into the channel.
    Also if Rainbows were able to get into the Chena they would probably have an extremely hard time competing with the Grayling, they might not be able to survive a winter, and/or would be subject to predation by Pike.

    I don't know about EVERY lake in Canada that has Pike has Walleye. There is probably some geographical reason why Walleye weren't able to make it into Alaska naturally.

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    Member aktyler's Avatar
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    Piledriver slough was at some point stocked with rainbows years ago... i dont remember how far back... but as a kid i caught many a rainbow in there... who knows, maybe one day someone will catch a monster that strayed into the chena... and i vote that someone should be me

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Piledriver has been stocked with Triploids for a while...

    It is very interesting to me that mykiss never made it to the yukon drainage, the Alaska range does not explain fully why they didn't spread there, mykiss crosses the Alaska range into the Kuskokwim, also crosses coast range in many places, including the Tat which shares headwaters with the yukon. Due to the tendency for Anadromy it seems unlikely that the AK range has much effect on the lack of trout in the Yukon drainage. I can think of two hypotheses, the first being the Yukon is a fairly young river (in geologic terms) and mykiss just hasn't been able to colonize it yet, this seems unlikely because the range of mykiss in this state is made of rivers much much younger than the yukon, this leads the second and in my mind most likely hypothesis which is the habitat in the yukon basin is unsuitable for rainbow trout. The fact that stocked trout have not taken hold in the Chena or elsewhere in the drainage supports this, I'm sure back in the days of willy nilly trout stocking lots of trout must have been stocked around fairbanks. I would guess that rainbows were not able to establish themselves because their niche is warmer on average, with more nutrients and better rearing habitat. Its been shown that the limiting factor for steelhead populations is the rearing habitat potential it would not be a stretch to say that an adfluvial (winters in large lakes and rivers, like susitna drainage fish) population of rainbows would have the same limiting factor. The upper chena does not have proper rearing habitat for juvenile mykiss without significant migration. Also streams in the Yukon drainage are very nutrient poor, which is why it takes grayling 20 or 30 years to get to 20 inches. Rainbows in those waters would probably only be able to reach 6 or 7 inches in a lifetime which would severely limit spawning ability.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Member bigcox's Avatar
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    I've often wondered the same thing. I wonder if having the downtown power plants water discharging in the Chena would help a population of Rainbows. I've seen people fishing it on nice days in the winter, I never had the nuts to do it. With the healthy population of Rainbows in Quartz that I heard about this spring, you would think that if they can survive a winter in that lake, then they should do just find in the Chena. I'm not biologist, so who knows...

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