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Changes to chinook enhancement program seeks comment

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has an open comment period through the end of the month for its plan to enhance the king salmon run on the Kasilof River and Crooked Creek, as well as in Kachemak Bay.

The stocking plan has two objectives, according to Fish and Game's notice. One is to provide 3,000 hatchery-produced early-run king salmon returning to the Kasilof, which the Department says generates about 17,500 "angler days" of sports fishing opportunity per year. The second is to reduce pressure on wild-run Chinook so their escapement goal of between 650-and 1,700 per year can be met.

The 2004-2010 estimated mean harvest from sport fish angler creel surveys on the Kasilof River was 1,517 hatchery-produced Chinook salmon. Beginning in 2014, approximately 140,500 smolt will be stocked annually into Crooked Creek. That's up from the 105,000 released annually starting in 2,000. Before that, the release was 210,000, but was reduced because of stray escapement into the Kenai River.

The enhancement plan includes an escapement census of wild- and hatchery-run Chinook in Crooked Creek. Hatchery fish will be identified by clipped adipose fins, heat-marked otolith bones and coded wire tags implanted in the smolts' heads.

In Kachemak Bay, stocking of the Halibut Cove Lagoon is being suspended so smolt numbers to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit can be increased. The goal is to produce a harvest of about 1,800 for shore-based anglers at the fishing hole. That will require the release of about 315,000 Chinook smolt. Seldovia Lagoon will see a release of 105,000 marked hatchery fish.

Comments can be made to ADF&G through January 30th. 

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