The fish of summer are back -- or at least those fish humans help nurture. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has begun its annual stocking of area lakes. Fishery biologist Sam Oslund grabbed a big tube to pump fish out of the truck into Kepler-Bradley lakes last week.
It was the first among almost 100 Alaska lakes to be stocked with "catchable-size" rainbow trout, arctic char, Chinook salmon and grayling. The fish come from the new, $100 million William Jack Hernandez hatchery at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Anchorage.
"With the hot water they have now at the new hatchery, they're growing them faster and bigger,'' Oslund said.
The new hatchery, she said, should allow for a significant increase in the number of catchables the state can stock. A new state stocking plan calls for five lakes in Anchorage alone to get 75,200 rainbow trout, 57,600 landlocked Chinook salmon, 3,000 Arctic char and 1,500 grayling this year. Mat-Su area lakes will get tens of thousands more fish. Along with stocking Keper Bradley there last week, Oslund said, Prator, Memory and Echo lakes were freshly filled this past week.
"Catchable-size'' fish are 10 inches and longer. Some are considerably longer. Fish and Game has in past years released 4,000 mature rainbow trout per summer. Those fish can weigh up to 6 pounds. Another 500 mature char were also let go. They can weigh up to 12 pounds. That's lunker size, and almost enough of a reason to follow the stocking truck around. Information on state stocking plans can be found here.