For two decades we have operated a smolt trap on the Kasilof River to count salmon smolt leaving Tustumena Lake, which is the second biggest producer of Upper Cook Inlet sockeye salmon. Commercial, sport, and personal use fishermen rely heavily on this run each year. The data collected by CIAA crews at Kasilof River is used by ADF&G for fisheries management. The monitoring of this smolt out is in support of natural runs and is not related to a hatchery enhancement project.
Bear Creek weir, located just a few miles outside of Seward, is bustling with activity from early May through mid-October. At this permanent weir, we have a crew that counts the number of sockeye and coho smolt leaving Bear Lake and the number of adult salmon returning. We operate the weir under a cooperative agreement with ADF&G, as part of a project to increase sockeye and coho runs in Resurrection Bay. This is done through CIAA stocking of smolt and fry to Resurrection Bay and Bear Lake.
Paint River Fish Ladder
Our most ambitious fish ladder project is the Paint River Fish Ladder located on the east side of the Alaska Peninsula in Kamishak Bay. The Paint River system was long recognized as having significant potential for natural salmon colonization. The obstacle for salmon actually reaching this system was a 40-foot waterfall at tidewater. Using primarily grant funding, we completed construction of a fish ladder to circumvent the falls. It is a maze of concrete channels that allow salmon to swim around the waterfall and head upstream to spawn. Both CIAA and ADF&G staff have observed fish using the ladder. This site also has a cabin that may be used as a support facility for scientific research on genetics, food web, and nutrient cycles associated with freshwater life cycle of anadromous salmon in a newly-colonized system.
Since 1976 some form of sockeye population enhancement has been occurring at Hidden Lake, located in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge (KNWR). This program has evolved from the egg take/fry releases of the 1970s to include smolt and adult enumeration; limnology studies; and straying and homing studies. Project operation details are negotiated annually between ADF&G and KNWR through a permit, which sets the conditions in which CIAA can operate this project on behalf of ADF&G.