Progressive Alaska noted at the end of 2007 that the continuing decline of Matanuska-Susitna Borough salmon stocks should be regarded as one of the top ten Mat-Su stories of 2007. For some reason, this important issue didn't make it onto the radar of the ADN's Valley bureau. Nor onto the screen at the Frontiersman, as far as I've been able to determine.
I can remember when fishing in the Upper Inlet was a lot better than it now is. The last time I talked to Sarah Palin's dad was when his canoe and mine were a couple of lengths apart in the mouth of Fish Creek, the stream that drains Big Lake into Knik Arm. We were dipnetting in one of the last seasons of that fishery. My daughter and I caught 36 Sockeye in 45 minutes.
I can remember when Jim Creek was far more viable as a Silver fishery, when I could easily catch Coho on eggs or lures near the mouth of Cottonwood Creek, and when twice to three times as many Sockeye and Coho spawned at the upper end of Cottonwood Creek, where we live, on Neklason Lake. Every Valley fisher has similar stories - or worse.
There is no rational reason for this seemingly inexorable trend toward extinction. Alaska is the only place in the world where salmon stocks remain fairly vital overall. The Upper Cook Inlet stocks are a glaring exception to this generality. I've been asking my local, state and Federal-level politicians about why this has to happen for the past 25 years. I've never gotten a satisfactory answer.
Craig Medred, the Anchorage Daily News Outdoors Editor, tried to tackle this issue today, in a column suggesting that the regional ADF&G office in Soldotna should be moved to the ADF&G HQ on Raspberry Road, in Anchorage:
Move the decision-making power for Cook Inlet commercial fisheries out of the Soldotna office.
Put it in the regional office in Anchorage, and give all the biologists involved, from both the commercial and sport divisions in Kenai and Mat-Su, a seat at the table.
I'd add - Fire all the GOP politicians in the Upper Inlet who have let this valuable resource for our community and our locally-based tourism industry wither, one run after another, through the entire period - from 1994 on - of GOP dominance of the Valley political structures. They have utterly failed to do their job on this. Completely.
photo of unknown happy guys with their Steelheads on the Little Susitna from the 3 Rivers Fly & Tackle trophy page