Campaign could give trout a fighting chance

Posted: Monday, May 05, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) A campaign by state biologists may give rainbow trout in Anchorage area lakes a fighting chance against northern pike.

With the 2003 fish stocking under way, state sportfish management biologist Matt Miller and assistant area biologist Dan Bosch have begun netting and trapping pike from three popular lakes.

They caught a dozen large pike in Lower Fire Lake last week and plan to go back. They will target pike in Sand and Cheney lakes as the month goes on.

The largest pike caught reached 28 inches, while others were 14-inch hammer handles'' capable of swallowing whole any of the 8-inch rainbows released by hatchery crews, Miller said.

The plan is that this (netting) will help keep the pike numbers low enough so they can coexist with these rainbows,'' Miller said. But wiping them out entirely is probably beyond our means.''

An essential second front in the local pike war enlists local fishermen, Miller said.

They can really be the biggest pike control by keeping all the pike that they catch.''

Native to Interior Alaska sloughs and backwaters, northern pike were illegally released into Southcentral Alaska several decades ago. They have spread throughout the Susitna River drainage and shown up in Anchorage and on the Kenai Peninsula.

Anglers reported catching nearly 4,000 pike in Lower Fire Lake in 2001, but they kept only about 750 and threw the rest back. While state regulations prohibit wasting sport-caught fish like pike, there's no bag limit and there are no restrictions on giving away bucket loads of the white-fleshed fish to local charities.

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