Grayling Getting Stocked Again Into Interior Lakes

Photo by Mike Lunde

According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Alaska Interior lakes are again being stocked with grayling after a budgetary hiatus that ended the program in 2015.

Here’s News-Miner outdoors editor Sam Friedman:

Grayling occur naturally in Interior Alaska rivers. They’ve been stocked off and on in Interior lakes since 1952. At the size at which they’re released from hatcheries, grayling are slightly smaller than hatchery-raised salmon, rainbow trout and Arctic char. The distinctive fish with their long dorsal fins are popular with fishermen.

Alaska’s grayling-stocking program was cut in 2015 because it was a small program and made a bigger dent in the expenditures to cut an entire species than to reduce a larger stocking program, said Gary George, manager of the Ruth Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery in Fairbanks.

Fishermen noticed their absence, and it was a priority to bring them back when funding returned, said Jeff Milton, the state’s sport fish hatchery program manager at the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery in Anchorage. …

…This week, there are 26,000 Arctic grayling circling a tank at the Ruth Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery on Wilbur Street. Like most other fish in the hatchery, they swim against the tank’s induced current. They eat a diet of fish meal and vitamins.

During the grayling spawning season in late May, a hatchery crew captured grayling on the Chena River above the Nordale Bridge to use as a brood stock. The Chena River is the source of the brood stock for the Interior and for the Hernandez hatchery in Anchorage.

Female Arctic grayling carry about 3,000 eggs each, about the same number of eggs as king salmon, but the eggs are much smaller. Hatchery employees gathered the eggs and fertilized them by mixing in the milt from male fish.