State to get better tag on salmon

Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2004

Anglers lucky enough to catch a Kenai River king salmon this season also might get a side of spaghetti.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has cooked up a plan to try and get a better handle on where and when Kenai kings are hooked this summer.

As part of this project, department technicians will be netting kings in the river and releasing them back into the water but only after fitting the fish with long, gray "spaghetti" tags.

The department also will record the age, length and sex of the fish before releasing them back into the water.

According to Tom Vania, Fish and Game regional management biologist, the project will be used to help better understand how kings are taken during the summer.

"We're just looking at where and when the fish get caught," Vania told the Kenai River Special Management Area Advisory Board last week.

With the information gathered in the project, the department hopes to gain additional information to combine with its ongoing creel survey, which is used to gauge how many king salmon are harvested by sport anglers each year.

The tags will be inserted near the dorsal fin on the back of each fish. Anyone catching a fish with such a tag is asked to remove the tag and return it to the department.

Additionally, Vania said it would be helpful if anglers would make note of any additional information about where the fish was caught, including water quality, time of day, location, etc.

"The more information we get, the better," Vania said.

He also said it's possible the department will go out searching for any tags that manage to make it upriver without making it into the hands of anglers, but that will depend on how much money the department has at the end of the project.

"I doubt if we'll go into the spawning tributaries, but we could," he said.

The tagging project will run through the first week of August, which is traditionally the end of the second run of Kenai kings.

Anyone who finds a spaghetti tag can drop it by Fish and Game offices on Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna or call 262-9368 for more information.

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