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Biologists watching for pike

Posted: Friday, September 14, 2007

While the Swanson River is known as a good place to go for silver salmon fishing, the Alaska Department is hoping to keep it that way by keeping out invasive northern pike.

"We know they're in Stormy Lake and we'll be surveying the Swanson soon to make sure they're not getting a toehold in there," said Robert Begich, sportfish area manager with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Rob Massengill, a fisheries biologist with Fish and Game, said the concern stems from the fact that there is an outlet from the lake that drains directly into the Swanson River.

"Right now there is a net barrier to prevent fish movement out of Stormy Lake, and we're looking at other options for the future," he said.

Massengill said Fish and Game has received two anecdotal reports of pike caught in the Swanson River over the last year, but neither case could be confirmed.

"While we couldn't verify the reports because they were based on second-hand knowledge, one of the reports was from a pair of avid pike anglers we know who saw someone that had a pike on the bank at the canoe pull-out," he said.

However, since the person who supposedly caught the pike never reported it to Fish and Game, Massengill said "we don't know if it was true, an aberrant fish, or a breeding animal. We just don't know."

Fish and Game will conduct a two-week survey of the area early next month, in an attempt to find pike in the Swanson River.

"We'll be looking for pike using a variety of different gear types, but we're hoping we don't find anything. Pike could be disastrous to the Swanson salmon and trout fishery," he said.

Massengill said Fish and Game also needs the cooperation of area anglers fishing the Swanson River.

"If people do catch pike, we want to know about it. We need to know when they caught it and where in the drainage," he said.

For more information, or to report a pike catch to Fish and Game, call (907) 262-9368.



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