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Karluk Lake Memories


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Setting up for Salmon study, Karluk Lake about 1981. The dock photos are Larsen Bay where everything was staged to be flown to Camp Island. Maybe someone will recognize the men on the dock, both were with Either ADF&G or USFWS. The man on the forklift had a bad arm and could still outwork everyone on the crew. Wish I could remember their names, but so many years and so many projects....






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Wasn't Fish & Wildlife. Was probably ADF&G's Commercial Fish Division or their research folks. I don't recall anyone with a bad arm, but there were a lot of F&G fisheries types on Kodiak.

We fought the F.R.E.Division of Fish and Game proposed to establish a fish hatchery on Camp Island to rear Sockeye.

Karluk is one of the most productive systems around for sockeye as it is, and we were very concerned that a hatchery there had too much potential for harming that fishery, as well as the King and Steelhead fishery in Karluk, not to mention the risk of plunking a fish hatchery down in the middle of prime brown bear habitat.

We got the Fisheries Research folks from the Seattle Fisheries lab to come up and conduct independent research which strongly suggested this would become just a farm for Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV). The Commercial Fish Division of ADF&G were quietly opposed to building a hatchery on Karluk as well.

It turned out virtually every FRED hatchery that tried to rear sockeye failed due to IHNV, including the one at Kitoi Bay on Afognak Island. Most of those hatcheries are now pumping out pink salmon by the millions, which MAY be competing with sockeye and kings in the ocean for limited food sources.

Most of the hatcheries were turned over to Aquaculture Associations (read consortia of commercial fishermen).

I think the first bear capture work we did with Kenai Air was spring of 1980. We wound up handling a lot of bears over the years.

Thanks Mike and Gary. I enjoy hearing the details of some of the projects I worked around. I didn’t get involved with the Kodiak capture work, but worked with F&G (Ted Spraker) in the moose range doing moose, bear and wolves. Lofstedt’s flew the helicopter and I and one other guy would fly the Cub. Did a lot of tracking in the Cub as well including tracking a moose to a guys freezer in Soldotna. Found the collar sitting on a shelf in the garage.
Yes, Bud was insistent that he control who did capture work in the helicopter. So it was him, Vern or Craig, at least back then. And all three of those guys did great work. A helicopter pilot for another company with a 206 based in Kodiak asked me once why we only used those guys. I explained they were the only ones near approved by DOI for capture work. And, if he’d get authorized we’d consider using him. He is a hell of a helo pilot.

Later, I mentioed to him we were going to be catching bears the next week, and if he wanted to observe, just give us a call on our freq. He did, and he perched on a knob while Craig caught a sow and her two 3 year old cubs. It was a busy capture, but we got them all. The observer called and said he was leaving and thanks.

Couple weeks later, I saw him in town and asked what he thought. His response was interesting. He said “I don’t know if you realize just how good that guy is with a helicopter, but I can tell you he’s as good as they get. He took that helicopter right to the edge a couple times, backed off, then worked the machine right where it needed to be for the next approach. He said “I could do that, but it’s pretty obvious you’ve got a really good hand as it is, and I don’t need the work that bad”.

High praise in my opinion.

There was a fellow F&G bio named Larry Malloy that had some leg and maybe arm challenges. We worked Red Lake Kodiak sockeye studies in 1970, and later we ran the Kitoi Bay hatchery in late '71 until I took a suit and tie job for 8 months in Juneau. Not sure if it was him above - maybe not. He was a Vietnam vet and his stories of burning poop mixed with diesel kept us going on cold wet days (as in things could be worse). He stayed with Com Fish and became a supervisor eventually.

And yes as Mike notes hatcheries have their issues. As other salmon size and age at maturity decline so does the abundance of hatchery released Pink Salmon increase. Only so much food at the table for all of them.

Gary, Wish I could remember their names... Don’t think it was Larry, maybe some day it will come back to me.

Yes Mike, all 3 Lofstedt’s were exceptional helicopter pilots and I don’t say that lightly. We hired a lot of seasonal pilots and Vern or Craig would take them out and show them what Alaska helo flying required. More than one came back, packed his bags and headed south. I learned tons from them that served me well in my career. They were very good to me and I even met my wife in a Kenai Air Long Ranger on Christmas Day. Found this picture of Craig, probably from 81 or 82.



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Yep, that be him. One of the funny things I recall was Craig had a huge thermos, and filled it with coffee, put it under his legs in the pilot seat. He’d drink that whole thing by the time the day was done. Every time we caught a bear, he’d shut down and drag out that thermos.

Great folks.