Alaska Biologists study lake trout population for trouble

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Federal biologists are seeking answers
to why lake trout in Hidden Lake on the Kenai Peninsula appear to
be shrinking both in size and numbers.

The Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday that Ken
Gates of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying the size
and status of lake trout in Hidden Lake. Two months ago, Gates’
office tagged and released 22 trout. The effort is expected to
resume later this month.

Biologists consider lake trout susceptible to overharvesting
because they grow slowly and don’t spawn before they’re 5 years old
_ and then only every other year. The fish are actually char, not
trout, and can live up to 50 years. Hidden Lake has one of the
largest populations of lake trout on the Kenai Peninsula.

Alaska’s largest freshwater fish can grow big. The state record,
caught on Clarence Lake in 1970, weighed 47 pounds. However, Hidden
Lake’s pink-flesh lake trout average 2 to 4 pounds.

Sharp declines in the legal bag limit from 12 lake trout a day
to just one fish might lead to the perception among anglers that
fishing has declined.

“I fish it a lot, and I think it’s gone downhill the last 5-10
years,” said Larry Wall, whose 12 1/2-pounder topped the fishing
derby field a year ago. “I can’t figure out what’s going on. Used
to be you could go out there and catch 10 of them, but now maybe
it’s just one or two and they’re small.”


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