Northern Cook Inlet Management Area
Mat-Su Stocked Lakes
The primary objective of this program is to provide additional fishing opportunities for both the consumptive and non-consumptive users in a cost effective manner on a sustainable basis by stocking lakes with game fish that are indigenous to Alaska. An additional objective of the program is divert pressure from the areas wild fish populations, and insure that stocking does not negatively impact wild stocks or other fisheries. All stocking is conducted in accordance to guidelines set forth in the Statewide Stocking Plan for Recreational Fisheries.
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Currently 90 lakes in the NCIMA are stocked on an annual, biennial, or triennial basis, including one research lake that is closed to fishing. These stocked lakes range in size from 2 to 362 surface acres. The stocking program began in 1952 when two lakes received 22,000 rainbow trout fry. Although eight species of salmonids have been planted since 1952, rainbow trout, coho salmon and Arctic grayling have become the primary species used in the stocking program. Steelhead/rainbow trout from the Karluk River (Kodiak) and four strains of Alaska rainbow trout (Naknek River, Talarik Creek, Swanson River and Big Lake) as well as rainbow trout from federal and private hatcheries located in the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington have been stocked. Landlocked salmon fisheries have been supported by coho salmon from Washington State, at least nine Alaskan egg take sources, and chinook salmon from three Alaskan sources. Since 1979 only native Alaskan fish have been stocked in the NCIMA. Arctic grayling egg take sources have been Junction Lake, Tolsona Lake and Moose Creek. Arctic char, originating from egg takes at Aleknagik Lake, and lake trout from Paxson Lake were first stocked in 1988. Swanson River strain rainbow trout are the sole rainbow trout brood stock source remaining at the Ft. Richardson Hatchery. Beginning in 1994, Big Lake drainage system lakes having intermittent outlets have been stocked with triploid all-female Swanson River strain rainbow trout.
In most cases stocked landlocked lakes represent new fisheries because game fish were not present before stocking occurred. Stocked lakes benefit anglers and recreational support industries by providing diverse, year-round fishing opportunities and by diverting angling pressure from natural stocks. The majority of the stocking is directed toward road-accessible lakes that tend to draw entire family groups for some combination of fishing, camping, picnicking, boating, snow machining and ice skating. Rainbow trout appear to be the species preferred by most anglers. A survey of anglers fishing stocked lakes in the NCIMA in 1977 revealed that 70% preferred to fish for rainbow trout, 19% desired landlocked coho salmon and 11% listed Arctic grayling as their top three target species.
An ongoing program to evaluate growth and survival of fish in stocked lakes is conducted on a rotating schedule to evaluate all lakes on a five year cycle.
Chinook & Coho Escapement
Helicopter and foot surveys to index chinook salmon escapement in up to 25 NCI streams have been conducted since 1979. Surveys of chinook salmon escapement are important for future management strategies and formulation of Biological Escapement Goals (BEGs) for area chinook salmon streams. Foot surveys to index spawning coho salmon are also conducted annually on up to 11 area streams. Several of these streams are in highly urbanized areas and the surveys are important for future management strategies and formulation of BEGs for area coho salmon streams. Index surveys of important NCI salmon streams will detect trends in escapement of the various NCI stocks and assist fisheries managers with future management strategies and fine tuning of BEGs.
Chinook & Coho Egg Take
Chinook and coho salmon egg takes are conducted annually in the Northern Cook Inlet area. Chinook salmon egg takes are conducted on Deception Creek a tributary of Willow Creek and Ship Creek in Anchorage. The annual egg take goal for chinook salmon is 600,000. Coho salmon eggs are collected from Ship Creek and raised at the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery. Approximately 125,000 coho salmon eggs are taken annually. These egg takes support both the andromous and lake stocking programs to increase angler opportunity while reducing pressure on wild stocks.