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Fairbanks Fish & Game launch radio telemetry arctic grayling study

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has recently launched a radio telemetry study to track...
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has recently launched a radio telemetry study to track the life history of arctic grayling.(ktvf)
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 1:38 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has recently launched a new study on arctic grayling in creeks outside of Fairbanks.

According to Lisa Stuby, Yukon Area Management Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the study will take place in close proximity to Fairbanks in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management. Stuby explained, “Because of the proximity to Fairbanks, it’s only about 16 miles, the White Mountains Recreation area is very popular with outdoor enthusiasts, and there are many outdoor activities people can do, and one of them is fishing for arctic grayling. And so as a management biologist, I want to learn more about arctic grayling and movements of arctic grayling, especially between Beaver Creek and Nome Creek.”

The study involves surgically tagging several arctic grayling with radio transmitters which allows for the study of their location and habits.

Stuby elaborated, “With this radio telemetry study, what we’re doing is we put out about 150 radio transmitters. We floated Beaver Creek and then deployed 90 and then deployed 40 in Nome Creek proper. And then another 20 up in the upper drainages off Quartz Creek Trail.” Stuby continued, “And I’m going next to fly this winter to look and document overwintering areas. Because they won’t be overwintering where we tagged them. In springtime when they usually spawn soon after ice out in like April-ish or so, to document spring spawning areas. And then during the summer they’ll all kind of move, usually like a higher proportion of the larger fish will move into the upper tributaries, they’ll spread themselves out. And to document summer feeding areas, as well as fidelity to all these areas.”

And currently, arctic grayling in both Beaver and Nome Creeks are catch and release only according to Stuby. Stuby remarked, “That’s out of an abundance of caution. So you can sport fish for them, but you have to release them, you can’t catch and keep any. For those, especially those who float Beaver Creek, many who take out near Victoria Creek, people can catch and keep arctic grayling. You can go up, those who ride all terrain vehicles up Quartz Creek Trail, or mountain bike or horseback ride or whatever ways, you can get up to the upper tributaries and catch and keep five arctic grayling.”

The study is currently set to conclude in 2023 with the data gathered to assist in population estimates as well as recapture projects. In the event that a grayling with a tag is caught or killed, Stuby has taken measures to assist in the return of the radio equipment, including placing flyers around the creeks with her contact information.

“You’ll see a radio antenna actually coming out near the back fin. That right there is the big tell-tale sign that this is a radio tagged fish. If you catch it, please let it go, that would be ideal, so let the fish go. But if you inadvertently hook the fish in a bad location or the fish swallows the hook and it looks like the fish is not going to survive, I have my contact information on this, and I would appreciate getting this transmitter back. Because what we’ll do is we’ll go ahead and redeploy them,” said Stuby.

If an arctic grayling with a radio transmitter is killed, Stuby can be contacted at (907) 459-7202 or at lisa.stuby@alaska.gov.

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