Rainbow trout returned to Scout Lake Wednesday after a five-year battle to get rid of invasive northern pike.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game personnel released 9,500 rainbow trout and 9,500 arctic grayling into the lake two years after it received a chemical treatment. Later in the day, the department released 1,600 grayling into Arc Lake, following the same infestation treatment.
Fish and Game sport fish management biologist Robert Begich said that the fish should take to their new habitat because populations of woodfrog tadpoles and invertebrates have rebounded dramatically after a lull attributed to the "voracious" invasive fish.
"They have a full dinner plate," he said.
By regulation, both lakes have technically been open to fishing, but the rotenone treatment, which suffocates gill-breathers, left few offerings for sporting fishermen. Volunteer biologist Silvia Sarmiento, who helped restock the lake, said that the fish should develop to decent catching size within a couple years.
"You can fish it now, but you're not going to catch much," said Begich.
The biologist said that the department will set non-lethal fyke nets next fall to check the lakes for pike. Afterward, the state will rely on the public to report any invasive species.
Sarmiento said that the stock came from the department's Fort Richardson hatchery. The fish released were spawned from eggs harvested from the Chena River near Fairbanks.
Department biologist Jason Pawluk said that his department stocked the roadside lake with rainbow trout and coho before. This is the first time the grayling have been released there.
"We decided to try something different," Pawluk said. "We'll see how they do. Maybe we'll put coho back."
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Charlie Pierce, who lives on the lake, said that the local wildlife appear largely unaffected by the chemical treatment. Two loons have lived on the lake for three straight years. Pierce said that the pair chased a group of their species away.
However, he did find a baby duck with a missing paddle that he attributes to a pike attack.
Begich said that larger pike are known to eat ducks and other waterfowl.
Standing on the shore of Scout lake, Pierce said that he saw a local bird swoop down and snatch prey from the lake the other day.
"I don't know what it could have been," he said. "There aren't any fish in there."
According to Fish and Game, Scout Lake was first stocked in 1957. Pike were first detected in 2005.
Tony Cella can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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