In an attempt to better evaluate the effect illegally introduced northern pike are having on Scout Lake in Sterling, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is relaxing some sport fishing regulations there.
As of Sunday, ice-fishing anglers fishing for northern pike will be allowed to use five lines at Scout Lake as long as standard ice-fishing gear is used, the gear is closely attended and all other species of fish caught are released immediately.
Northern pike also may be taken by spear or bow and arrow as long as the arrow is attached to the bow with a line and the arrow tip is barbed.
Spearing northern pike is an effective technique, according to Rob Massengill, a research biologist working with Fish and Game.
Massengill said spear fishermen use dark houses set up on the ice and cut a rectangular hole in the ice approximately 2 feet across.
Pike are then lured to the hole with decoy fish.
Fishermen may use spears or bows and arrows while fishing the five lines that are being allowed.
Northern pike were discovered in Scout Lake while Fish and Game biologists were sampling the lake prior to stocking last September. Normally Scout Lake is stocked with rainbow trout and coho salmon.
Known for their voracious appetites, northern pike prey on all other fish species and usually deplete lakes of all more-desirable fish.
Pike pose a major threat to the area’s salmon and trout populations and their spread to the Kenai River and Swanson River systems is considered one of Fish and Game’s biggest concerns.
The pike most likely were brought to Scout Lake and several other central Kenai Peninsula lakes by people, according to Massengill.
The lakes in which they have been found do not flow into or out of other waterways, and Massengill said it is highly unlikely the species was carried in by birds.
Under the Scout Lake emergency order, which will be in effect through April 30, pike anglers may use two hooks on each line as long as both hooks are attached to a single piece of bait such as whole, small herring or smelt, salmon eggs or nightcrawlers. Live fish or bait is not allowed.
If anglers want to fish for and retain species other than pike, they may only use two lines.
To help Fish and Game know more about the effect northern pike are having on Scout Lake, the department is asking anglers to voluntarily report their ice fishing catch.
Fish and Game is interested in how many northern pike are caught per outing, how big they are and the number and type of other species caught.
Reports can be made to Massengill at 262-9368.
No bag limits or possession limits are in place for northern pike on the Kenai Peninsula.
As a further incentive to get ice fishermen to go after northern pike in Scout Lake, the Department of Natural Resources will leave the park access gate open starting Sunday. It will be locked, however, if vandalism, which has occurred in the past, recurs.
Pike are a delicate, white meat fish, according to Massengill, and are good to eat as long as their unusual “Y” bones are removed while filleting.
The “Y” bones exist in the middle of the front half of the fish, and the biologist said several Web sites describe in detail how they easily can be removed.
Northern pike ice fishermen, as well as all other anglers, will need to have a valid 2006 sportfishing license in their possession as of Sunday.
Massengill said licenses were distributed to area vendors in November. New fishing regulation booklets will not go out until April, he said, but generally fishermen can go by 2005 regs.
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