All posts by Chris Cocoles

Juneau-Area King Crab Fishery Set To Shut Down

The following press release is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today the Juneau Area (Section 11-A) personal use red and blue king crab fishery winter season will close at 8:00 p.m., Friday, January 11,
2019.

Analyses of effort levels and harvest projections indicate the 2018/2019 winter season personal use harvest allocation of 1,268 red and blue king crab will be achieved by the time of the closure.

Significant participation in the winter season, combined with good harvest rates, resulted in a shorter than anticipated fishery.
Participants in the winter fishery must report their king crab harvest online at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/sf/PU or return their permits to the Douglas office once the seasonal limit is reached or no later than January 18, 2019.

The Emergency Order corresponding with this announcement is EO 1C0519.

More Salmon Closures For 2019: Cook Inlet Chinook Shut Down

The following press relase is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) today announced closures to 2019 Northern Cook Inlet (NCI) king salmon commercial and sports fisheries. Subsistence king salmon fisheries in Northern Cook Inlet will also be restricted.

The department is restricting and closing king salmon fisheries to conserve weak king salmon stocks. Multiple king salmon stocks in NCI, including seven stocks of concern, have failed to meet escapement goals in recent years.

“The department must make these closures and restrictions because of a recent pattern of extremely poor returns for king salmon stocks in the NCI area,” said ADF&G Acting Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang. “The outlook for this season is particularly worrisome with the Deshka River king salmon forecast well below the escapement goal.

“This system is the primary indicator stock used for management of the Susitna drainage. While the department realizes these closures and restrictions cause hardship, we want the public to know now what is happening well in advance of the 2019 season.”

“The department is mandated to manage Alaska’s fisheries for sustained yield. We must make conservation actions to ensure the long-term sustainability of these important king salmon stocks. We will also be actively monitoring runs so that we can make opportunity available if runs come in stronger than expected.”

Weirs on the Deshka and Little Susitna rivers, fishwheels, and aerial surveys will be used to gauge inseason run strength. Fishing opportunity may be restored where and when possible while ensuring escapement goals are achieved.

King salmon sport fisheries will be closed in 2019 throughout the Susitna River, Yentna River and Little Susitna River drainages. Commercial fishing will be closed in the Northern District of Upper Cook Inlet through June 24 to allow passage of king salmon through the district.

Subsistence king salmon fisheries in the Tyonek Subdistrict and Upper Yentna, which are each open three days a week by regulation, are being restricted to two days per week during the respective subsistence fishery seasons. This shares the burden of conservation across all user groups while recognizing a subsistence priority.

Emergency orders and announcements related to these closures can be found at: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/sf/EONR/index.cfm?ADFG=Region.R2&Year=2019 and http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=cfnews.main

The Deshka forecast can be found at: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=ByAreaSouthcentralNorthCookInlet.fishingInfo#outlook

Susitna, Little Susitna River Salmon Fishing Closed

The following press releases are courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

In favor of protecting returning king salmon and ensuring fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing regulation closure for Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainage effective 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, May 1 through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 13, 2019. King salmon fishing is closed in all waters of the Susitna River drainages and may not be targeted by anglers. King salmon caught incidentally may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

During the closure, sport fishing gear is limited to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure when fishing in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainage in those waters normally open to king salmon fishing. Sport fishing for other species will be allowed seven days per week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. This includes the waters within Unit 2 that are normally closed on certain days during the king salmon season. For a complete description of these waters, anglers should refer to pages 20-37 in the 2019 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

“Last season king salmon stocks in the North Cook Inlet experienced a weak run of king salmon, as did most of Alaska. An exceptionally low run is expected again this season due to a poor showing of 5- and 6-year old fish,” stated Area Management Biologist Sam Ivey. “Alaskans know every fish counts towards achieving our escapement goals and providing a sustainable fishery for our future. ADF&G staff understands the frustrations and tremendous impact closing this fishery down has on anglers, local businesses, and guides. Nonetheless, ADF&G has a duty to protect, maintain, and improve our sport fisheries, and even with these restrictions, we will likely not meet our escapement goals.”

In conjunction with this closure, an additional sport fishing emergency order number 2-KS-2-06-19 closes king salmon fishing and implements tackle restrictions in all waters of the Little Susitna River from its mouth upstream to the Parks Highway Bridge. In addition, directed king salmon commercial fishing in the Northern District of Upper Cook Inlet will also be closed for the 2019 season (May 27, and June 3, 10, 17, and 24).

The 2019 Deshka River King Salmon Forecast can be found on the Northern Cook Inlet Management Area webpage under Annual Run Outlook. For additional information, please contact Area Management Biologist Sam Ivey at (907) 746-6300.

Little Susitna River King Salmon Fishing Shut Down

In favor of protecting returning king salmon and ensuring fishing opportunities in the future, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is implementing the following sport fishing regulation closure for the Little Susitna River drainage effective 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, May 1 through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 13, 2019. King salmon fishing is closed in all waters of the Little Susitna River from its mouth upstream to the Parks Highway Bridge and may not be targeted by anglers. King salmon caught incidentally may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

During the closure, sport fishing gear is limited to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure when fishing on the Little Susitna River in those waters normally open to king salmon fishing. Sport fishing for other species will be allowed seven days per week from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. For a complete description of these waters, anglers should refer to pages 20-37 in the 2019 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

“Last season king salmon stocks in the North Cook Inlet experienced a weak run of king salmon, as did most of Alaska. An exceptionally low run is expected again this season due to a poor showing of 5- and 6-year old fish,” stated Area Management Biologist Sam Ivey. “Alaskans know every fish counts towards achieving our escapement goals and providing a sustainable fishery for our future. ADF&G staff understands the frustrations and tremendous impact closing this fishery down has on anglers, local businesses, and guides. Nonetheless, ADF&G has a duty to protect, maintain, and improve our sport fisheries, and even with these restrictions, we will likely not meet our escapement goals.”

In conjunction with this closure, an additional sport fishing emergency order number 2-KS-2-05-19 closes king salmon fishing and implements tackle restrictions in Units 1-6 of the Susitna River drainages. In addition, directed king salmon commercial fishing in the Northern District of Upper Cook Inlet will also be closed for the 2019 season (May 27, and June 3, 10, 17, and 24).

Cordova Hunter’s Body Found On Remote Island

From KTUU, an Alaska deer hunter’s body was found on a Chugach National Forest island:

David Miezejeski, age 60, of Cordova, was on a deer hunting trip near Windy Bay on Hawkins Island. That’s where, according to the Alaska State Troopers, he was found dead.

Here’s the full dispatch from Alaska State Troopers:

On Monday, December 31,2018 at 1633 hours the Alaska Wildlife Troopers in Cordova, were notified by Cordova Police Department that David Miezejeski, age 60, of Cordova. had died during a deer hunting trip near Windy Bay on Hawkins Island.  Investigation revealed Miezejeski was discovered unresponsive, not breathing, and without a pulse by a hunting companion a short time after being dropped off on a beach alone. His body was recovered and returned to Cordova where he was pronounced dead at 1845 hours by Cordova EMS personnel. Miezejeski’s body will be sent to the State Medical Examiner for autopsy.

Salmon Slime Makes For Useful Counting Tool

Kenai River sockeye photo by Kentaro Yasui/Oregon State University

The following is courtesy of Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Siences: 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scientists have published a novel method for counting Pacific salmon – analyzing DNA from the slime the fish leave behind in their spawning streams.

The study, funded by The National Geographic Society, is published in the journal Molecular Ecology Resources.

“When we analyzed the environmental DNA sloughed into water from salmon tissues including mucus and skin cells, we got very accurate counts,” said Taal Levi, an ecologist at Oregon State University and lead author on the study. “This is a major first step for more informed salmon management decisions because it opens up the possibility to affordably monitor many more streams than the few that are currently monitored.”

Pacific salmon are a keystone resource in the Pacific Northwest, with an economic impact of well over $500 million each year in Alaska alone. Currently, spawning salmon are counted at just a few streams due to the reliance on human counters, or in rare cases, sonar. Five species of Pacific salmon – pink, chum, sockeye, coho, and chinook – are distributed through more than 6,000 streams in southeast Alaska alone. More than 1,000 of those streams host spawning salmon.

Salmon are anadromous: They migrate from home streams to the ocean as juveniles, and return a few years later as adults to spawn. Anadromous fish such as salmon provide a straightforward scenario for testing whether environmental DNA (eDNA) can be used to count fish, because large numbers of salmon release their DNA as they pass a fixed sampling point, either as they swim up a river or stream as inbound adults or swim downstream as outbound juveniles.

In many rivers and streams, including the majority of freshwater systems in Alaska, adult salmon returning to spawn are poorly monitored, as are fry and smolt production resulting from spawning salmon.

For the study, researchers collected water samples in 2015 and 2016 near the Auke Creek research weir, nearly 16 kilometers north of Juneau. Weirs consist of a series of closely spaced bars across an entire stream to prevent the passage of salmon, except through a single, narrow gate over which a human observer tallies and identifies salmon as they file through.

The Auke Creek weir, cooperatively operated by the National Marine Fisheries Service, in collaboration with the University of Alaska and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is known as one of the most accurate fish counters in the world, Levi said.

From those samples they passed 1 liter of water through simple filters to collect DNA floating in the water, and then quantified the amount of sockeye and coho salmon DNA present on each filter at Levi’s OSU lab. Because the concentration of eDNA in stream water results from both the amount of DNA shed by fish and the flow of water, the product of eDNA concentration and streamflow can be used to calculate absolute quantities of eDNA, Levi said.

Once they amplified the eDNA, the researchers compared those figures with the daily census of sockeye and coho salmon carried out at the Auke Creek research weir, to determine whether the eDNA accurately predicted the number and species of fish that passed through the weir.

“We take extracted DNA and we quantify the amount of DNA that belongs to coho salmon or sockeye salmon. The counts derived from eDNA were remarkably similar both for returning adult salmon and out-migrating juveniles” Levi said.

“Using just one variable – stream flow – combined with the amount of DNA that derived from coho and sockeye salmon – our statistical model did a good job of predicting all the peaks of eDNA, giving us an idea of when, and how many, fish passed through,” Levi said. “Now we can get a lot of information from many streams. Having a lot of information that isn’t 100 percent accurate may be better for management decisions than having really accurate counts for only four of 6,000 streams, particularly since we have very little data from anywhere on the number of out-migrating juveniles produced by each salmon stream.”

Using eDNA to count salmon could help agencies save money. The annual cost of a weir is approximately $80,000, not including installation or major maintenance. The cost of each water sample analysis, as used in this research, is $35.

This spring, the researchers plan to test OSU-developed automatic water samplers in a dozen streams in southeastern Alaska.

Levi is an assistant professor in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Chunyan Yang of the Kunming Institute of Zoology Chinese Academy of Sciences was a co-corresponding author on the study.

The research team also included Jennifer Allen, a faculty research assistant in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State; Donovan Bell, John Joyce, Joshua Russell and Scott Vulstek of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Auke Bay Laboratories; David Tallmon, of the University of Alaska Southeast; and Douglas Yu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of East Anglia.

Some Favorite Stories Of 2018

 

Here are snippets from some of our favorite stories of 2018:

Photo by Reese Brown/Snowsports Industries America

JANUARY: FOR THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE  

“There is so much honor and excitement pulling on the Team USA uniform. It is so much more than I ever dreamed. I love how suddenly, you become teammates with your entire country.” -Alaska transplant, outdoorswoman and PyeongChang Winter Olympian cross-country skier Sadie Bjornsen.

(PAUL D. ATKINS)

FEBRUARY: BE CAREFUL IN ALASKA

“Would I trade these experiences for not? No, I wouldn’t, they are part of who I am and if not for them I wouldn’t have learned the things I needed to know in order to survive here in the Arctic. I still don’t know everything and even if I did you never know what lies around the next corner or through the trees or down the river.” -correspondent Paul Atkins on Arctic mishaps in the field.

(SCOTT HAUGEN)

MARCH: WATERFOWLING NIRVANA  

“But it was the undulating strings of black brant – flock after flock spread across miles of water – that we all yearned to see. And see it we did. Thousands of brant were observed on every hunt, which meant that filling limits was not difficult.” -Field to Fire columnist Scott Haugen on hunting Izembek Lagoon.

(DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

APRIL: SHEDDING CLOTHES FOR THE CAUSE  

“Emotionally, I think I was definitely up to the challenge, just because I have these good survival skills already. And to be able to take them on the show and be able to use them, that was very cool.” -Anchorage resident and Army National Guard veteran LeAnn Duncan on appearing on Discovery Channel’s survival show Naked and Afraid.

(TONY ENSALACO)

MAY: STEELHEAD ANGLERS ARE A RARE BREED  

“In reality, there are no rules set in stone when it comes to steelheading; just some general guidelines that are a good starting point. Until people discover a way to communicate with the fish, opinions will be purely based on speculation, which gives anglers the chance to participate in some spirited debates.” -Writer Tony Ensalaco on his fishing passion for steelies.

JUNE: HAVE A PASSION FOR SALMON  

“She took off downstream and I had to follow, but after a brave struggle, she beached herself at my feet. She then began to writhe and roll with tremendous power, fouling my leader and bending my fly into a useless piece of wire.” -Excerpt from David Zoby’s book, Fish Like You Mean It.

Photo by Paul D. Atkins

JULY: FAMILY TIME MATTERS

“Getting your kids outside and experiencing the great outdoors with what Alaska has to offer, no matter where you live in the state, is priceless. Time flies, so do it now and as much as possible, because before you know it they’ll be out the door to college or a career and doing their own thing.” -Atkins on the sentimental takeaways from a fishing trip with his son Eli

(BIXLER MCCLURE)

AUGUST: TAKE FLIGHT IN ALASKA

“We now spend every nice day in the air since we bought an almost identical Cessna 172 from a friend of ours. My landings are near perfect and the Kenai Peninsula’s collection of short, gravel runways make for an excellent introduction into bush flying.” -Correspondent Krystin McClure on learning to fly along with her husband, Bixler.

(JEFF LUND)

SEPTEMBER: KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE

“Trust is at the core of the hunting buddy. Trust first that the buddy is in shape enough mentally and physically to execute the hunt. I know that the dudes I hunt with can keep it together because they have proven to take it seriously.” -Jeff Lund on the importance of who you’re hunting with.

(GARY MORRIS)

OCTOBER: THIS STATE IS TRULY THE WILD

“I’ve always said that what Alaska offers is, there are a million ways to live and a million ways to die, and they’re all in Alaska.” -Country music singer Gary Morris, who’s fished and hunted in the Last Frontier often.

(LARRY HATTER)

NOVEMBER: BEARS CAN SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOU

“Once more I mustered what saliva my suddenly parched mouth possessed and with every last bit of breath belted out, “Grizzly!” This time my cry rang out like a beacon and froze both men and bear in their tracks – no more than 30 yards apart.” -Idaho sportsman Larry Hatter on a terrifying bear encounter while hunting caribou on the North Slope.

(BERKLEY BEDELL/USFWS)

DECEMBER: LAND WORTH PROTECTING

“We love these places for the opportunities they provide us. But I think what’s really important to remember is that what we have in Alaska is very unique, not only in the U.S. but globally.” -Kenai National National Wildlife Refuge manager Andy Loranger on the importance of protected public land and what they offer.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Here Are Your 2018 Quotes Of The Year In ASJ

“The Alaska experience was always something that I guess I yearned for. And I’ve never had a time where I felt like I had enough. I love the wild, and it’s the wildest place, certainly in America.”

 

Happy New Year! Here at Alaska Sporting Journal we hope your 2019 is happy, prosperous and all your resolutions come through – or, as happens to me every year – are followed through the best you can.

But I always like to look back at what we did in 2018, so here are my favorite quotes from our stories for the year:

Photos cortesy of Sadie Bjornsen

“The outdoors has always been a way to see the world from new eyes. It has provided me with the opportunity to travel all over the world, and it has provided me with an opportunity to meet some pretty incredible people. When you walk outdoors, and breathe in the fresh air, it is the most natural form of medicine! Suddenly, all the problems of the world can be put aside, and you can find true happiness!”

-U.S. Olympic Team cross-country skier and transplanted Alaskan Sadie Bjornsen (January issue)

Photos courtesy of Sub7

Sub7

“You can have the most peaceful moments in your life sitting atop a mountain, and then in 15 minutes have the most horrific experience as you’re going down that mountain. And that terrain can absolutely beat you up. It will just take you before you know it. So many obstacles that just make you truly appreciate how that moment of beauty can turn to something ugly.”
“In everything else that we do, for the most part, you feel like you have a sense of control a little bit and a sense of security, I think, to some degree. In Alaska all that goes away. You know that you are not necessarily at the top of the food chain in where you’re at and what you’re doing.”

-Country music performer Craig Morgan, who owns a trapping cabin in the Alaskan Interior (February)

Photos by the Discovery Channel.

“It is quite an adventure. You know that Alaska is on the bucket list for about 20 million people. And the reason is it’s not just because of the resources and everything, but it’s because of the scenery. And I’m going to tell you what: We are absolutely working right smack in the middle of some of the best scenery that you can ever imagine in Alaska. And it’s breathtaking.”

-“Dakota” Fred Hurt of Discovery Channel series Gold Rush: White Water, on mining the treacherous waters of McKinley Creek (February)

 

Photo by LeAnn Duncan

Photo by Discovery Channel

“Alaska is my home and this is pretty much where I’m going to die. People ask me, “Where do you want to go?” And I say that I want to go to a cabin in the woods in Alaska. There are so many things to see and do here. My biggest adventures are at home and I love that about Alaska.”

-Anchorage accountant and outdoorswoman LeAnn Duncan, who shed her clothes and braved the oppressive sun, bugs and hurricane-ravaged landscape of Nicaragua on Disccovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid (April)

Photo courtesy of Keith Colburn (right)

Photo by Discovery Channel

“So the question wasn’t, ‘Why did you go to Alaska?’ The question was, ‘Why did you go back?’” 
“But the very first time we set sail out of Kodiak going to Togiak for the herring in early April, we were on watch. It was a beautiful night and we’re going through the islands, and I’m over on the port side of the wheelhouse and the captain comes over and goes, ‘Yeah; you’re hooked.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You’ve got the look.’ I was literally hooked immediately and just fell in love with being on the water.”

Deadliest Catch crabbing skipper Keith Colburn, who had a rough introduction to Alaska when he embarked on his commercial fishing career (May)

Photo by Greg Ruggerone

“It’s not that they’re beating up on sockeye salmon or Chinook salmon. They’re just so abundant and growing up so rapidly, they have to eat lots of food. They scarf up a lot of the food like the zooplankton.”

“They may be the a bit lower on the trophic food chain compared to say Chinook salmon, but they impact Chinook in two different ways; one being simply that pinks are feeding on zooplankton, the building block for all squid and forage fishes that Chinook like to eat. And then as the pinks get older in their second year in the ocean, we see more diet overlap with species like Chinook.”

-Dr. Greg Ruggerone, who has studied the impact of pink salmon populations on other Pacific salmon species (September)

Photos courtesy of Gary Morris

“I love it. You know, if it didn’t have a summer with no night and a winter with no day, then I’d move there.”

“The Alaska experience was always something that I guess I yearned for. And I’ve never had a time where I felt like I had enough. I love the wild, and it’s the wildest place, certainly in America.”

-Entertainer Gary Morris, who regularly fishes and hunts in the Last Frontier (October)

Biologist Bill Leacock has studied bears for the last 22 years, including his time at Kodiak. (LISA HUPP/USFWS)

(TIP (MOON) LEACOCK)

“Bill does have this special talent and has a very calming presence. I’ve been lucky enough to go up salmon streams with Bill before and he truly is a bear whisperer. A person like myself would never just walk quietly up a bear stream yelling, ‘Hey bear! Hey bear!’”
“But you’d probably never go to some of the areas that Bill goes to because of the concentration of bears. But Bill is very calm and I’ve gone up to (the O’Malley River bear viewing area) with him before, and it’s just an amazing experience. He has a lot of respect for the bears and he knows what he can and cannot do. It’s not something that you can do on your own.”

-Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge manager Mike Brady on the refuge’s lead bear biologist Bill Leacock, featured on the Animal Planet series Into Alaska (December)

Hagfish Getting Some Alaska Love

User Lmozero/Wikimedia

Utter the words “Alaska seafood” and it’s not likely hagfisn will not be one of the first words out of someone’s mouth. Yet as an Anchorage Daily News report suggests, there is a financial gain to be made from these slimy sea creatures and Alaska is trying to take advantage.

First, here’s a little bit about hagfish from the Smithsonian Channel:

The commercial fishing industry in Southeast Alaska is beginning to take notice of the demand for these strange undersea residents and making a business out of hagfish. Here’s the ADN’s Annie Zak: 

This isn’t the first time Alaskans have tried to ignite a hagfish fishery. There was also an effort made in the 1990s, said Andrew Olson, the Southeast Alaska groundfish project leader at Fish and Game. Hagfish fisheries in Korea and Japan collapsed in the 1980s and 90s and then the fishery took off along the West Coast, in waters off Washington, Oregon and California, according to Fish and Game.

“In Southeast (Alaska), it just didn’t work out,” Olson said. …

Korea is the main market for slime eels, Baldwin said. The meat is sold there for food and the skin used for leather. The slime is even used as an egg substitute.

“If you’ve ever seen eel skin products, it’s all hagfish,” Baldwin said. He’s even seen hagfish couches.

 

What A Hunter Has Learned As The Year Winds Down

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Why not celebrate your holiday season by remembering what you’ve learned out in the field. Check out this story from our correspondent Jeff Lund:

What I’ve learned 1
If you get out and hunt enough times over a year’s worth of seasons, you’re bound to learn something. Correspondent Jeff Lund shared what will make him a better (or at least more knowledgeable) hunter in the future. Here, Cody Lee prepares to take a shot at a deer during inclement weather. (JEFF LUND)

BY JEFF LUND

Yesterday, Facebook told me that last year at this time I was catching salmon on my fly rod and that my buddy Zack caught a steelhead.

I haven’t been fly fishing in almost three months and Facebook has repeatedly reminded me of how I’ve allowed hunting to supplant fishing as the way I spend most of my hours afield. What a difference a year makes.

I have been so distracted by hunting that it hasn’t even really occurred to me to fish. It’s not that I don’t like fishing or don’t want to fish anymore, but in my effort to go cow free, I can’t get enough of being out looking for bucks.

The more time I’ve spent hunting, the more I’ve learned, and for a dude who has only been hunting for six seasons, I have a long way to go.

With that in mind, here’s what I’ve learned so far in 2018 – stuff I’m not ashamed to admit, because most growth is stunted because people don’t want to admit they don’t know stuff. Especially hunters and anglers. We’re a stubborn breed.

SOMETIMES, STAY SILENT

It sounded like a doe in distress was charging through the woods. Seriously. I was terrified. The tone was frantic, unrelenting (a short call every two seconds) and covering ground. I don’t know what this dude was trying to do. I sat still and heard a deer crashing through the brush away from the call. It made me wonder if a call can have an opposite effect in areas of high traffic.

The following week I went there, I sat and didn’t call. I wanted to see what would happen if I was quiet and patient, letting deer run their usual program. Boom. Three-by-three.

It could have been luck, but since I know the spot had seen heavy traffic and the deer were being called too heavily, I decided to refrain and ended up with meat for the freezer. You can’t just blow a call and expect deer to come running. Volume, tone and frequency are so important.

Author Jeff Lund writes, ” most growth is stunted because people don’t want to admit they don’t know stuff. Especially hunters and anglers. We’re a stubborn breed.” (JEFF LUND)

FREEZING GAME MEAT

I used to freeze backstrap presliced, which was stupid because more surface of the meat was exposed to cold. Dumb. This year I cut each backstrap into thirds and froze them. I know this is a no-brainer to many – something that would go without saying – but I’m not very smart.

I also learned that this went incredibly well with an avocado Dijon dressing.

GEAR BREAKS, RIPS

This is also a no-brainer, but I realized the importance of making sure what I was wearing matched the intended surroundings. In the spring I rolled a black bear up away from the tide, knees scraping against barnacled rocks, but my new First Lite merino/nylon pants were unscathed.

It was a great test to the durability of a quality product. I was walking around in the alpine in the same pants this past August and caught a leg on a broken buckbrush branch. My leg was going forward, so I had no way of stopping in time. It caught the cloth and tore.

Try to slide down shale and your Gore-Tex pants will likely rip. Make twisting cuts with a replaceable Havalon knife blade and it will likely break. Walk through the tangled brush of Southeast Alaskan alpine in merino pants and they might tear. It happens.

PLAY THE WEATHER

After hot temperatures on opening day and the next, and no buck sightings even pre-dawn, a buddy of mine from California and I decided to get off the mountain, regroup and head back up during the rain that was forecast. We started up in the rain and got probably half an hour from hypothermia, but we wanted to get on top of the mountain as the weather broke.

Not that afternoon, or the next morning. We wanted to be there when the storm died. We were, it did, and the deer popped. It worked out perfectly. We hiked up in the rain, which meant we were wet on the outside and slick with sweat on the inside.

It was miserable. We dumped our camping stuff and stayed in the same clothes because we didn’t want to change into dry stuff in the rain. So we completed the 200 feet of elevation gain with light packs and dripping gear. The rain stopped and we glassed into a bowl, becoming colder and colder thanks to our lack of movement. Within 20 minutes of the rain stopping, deer emerged. Cody waited for the wind to die to take a 280-yard shot at a feeding three-by-three.

I worked my way around the ridge to the opposite side of the bowl to intercept a stud fork that I thought might feed over.

We got them both.

PLAY THE WEATHER, PART II

August is alpine season. Late October is the start of rut. Between is a dormant period of bucks in timber not willing to move. That’s what I thought. The vegetation on mountaintops looked like it was close to dead, and who likes to eat a brown salad? But the weather still felt like August.

I went into the alpine in mid-September and had a doe bust me when I had three bucks at 40 yards. I started asking around. A buddy of mine got a buck at the tree line halfway up a mountain in mid-October a few years ago. He got a buck with a bow on top of a mountain in mid-September this year.

A student of mine reported bucks in the alpine well into the “dormant period” I thought had started when August ended. Maybe it was just this year, or maybe I had to pay more attention to the weather than the calendar. ASJ

Editor’s note: Jeff Lund is a freelance writer from Ketchikan. His podcast The Mediocre Alaskan chronicles his struggle to be a better Alaskan. It is available on iTunes and Soundcloud. His book, Going Home, a memoir about hunting and fishing in Alaska, is available from Amazon.

 

Fish Can’t Be Retained At Several Soldotna-Area Lakes

The following press releases are courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

(Soldotna) – Sport fishing will be permitted at East and West Mackey, Sevena, Union, and Derks lakes; however, the retention of all species of fish is prohibited at these lakes.

These restrictions will be in effect from 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, January 1 through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, 2019.

From 2014-2017, East and West Mackey, Sevena, Union, and Derks lakes were successfully treated with rotenone to eradicate nonnative northern pike. During 2015-2017, Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff captured and transported approximately 92,000 native fish from Soldotna Creek to these lakes to aid in the restoration of the native fish populations. Continued restrictions from 2018 through 2019 are needed to protect these native fish until the population is established.

 

Eastside Cook Inlet Beaches Remain Closed to Sport Clamming

All eastside Cook Inlet beaches will remain closed to personal use and sport clamming in 2019 since any razor clam harvest will likely delay recovery of the population. These closures prohibit the taking of any clam species from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit. The closure is effective at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, January 1, 2019 and will be in effect for the remainder of the year.

From 2009-2015, eastside Cook Inlet razor clams experienced poor recruitment of juvenile sized razor clams and a high natural mortality rate of mature sized razor clams, which both resulted in a significant decline in abundance leading to the closure of the fishery.

Causes of the decline in razor clam abundance remains unknown but may include a combination of heavy surf, habitat changes, environmental stressors and predation. Eastside razor clam populations are beginning to rebuild, but uncertainties remain if it will continue into 2019. Razor clam abundance surveys are scheduled for the spring of 2019 on Ninilchik and Clam Gulch beaches to assess abundance of juvenile and mature sized razor clams, recruitment to the beach and mature size, annual growth, natural mortality, and potential harvest opportunity.

This closure does not affect recreational razor clam regulations on westside Cook Inlet beaches. If you have any questions, please contact the ADF&G Homer Office at (907) 235-8191.