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Both the hatching and rearing of king salmon destined to be stocked into Resurrection Bay occur in the controlled hatchery environment which maximizes the survival of eggs and young fish. When the hatchery-reared young king salmon are three to four inches in length, they undergo a physiological change called smoltification which enables them to enter salt water. At this point, the young salmon, now called smolt, are released into Resurrection Bay to begin the saltwater phase of their life cycle. Approximately, 200,000 to 300,000 smolt are released annually into Resurrection Bay and are the source of two distinct runs, early and late. Both release sites, Lowell Creek and Seward Lagoon, flow into the west side of the bay within the city limits of Seward.
The first significant king salmon fishery which resulted from stocking efforts occurred in 1987. King salmon which were not harvested entered several of the Bay's tributaries, most notably Box Canyon Creek and Resurrection River. Only time will determine if these fish will establish a self-sustaining population by spawning and rearing successfully.
The early run of King salmon return to the Lowell Creek and Seward Lagoon stocking areas from early June through late July. In 1995, the early run peaked in mid-June. Fishing occurs at all tide levels but success rates appear best at high tide in the Lowell Creek area. Kings salmon are taken by both shore and boat anglers. Most fish harvested by shore anglers are snagged, a legal harvest method in Resurrection Bay salt water, off the mouth of Lowell Creek, near the Seward Lagoon outlet, and in the Seward Small Boat Harbor. However, a growing number of anglers have found that kings can be induced to accept a variety of lures or bait especially during the early part of the run. In recent years, some anglers have successfully targeted kings using trolling techniques. Anglers are allowed two king salmon daily and in possession with no size restrictions.
The King salmon stocking program in Resurrection Bay was recently expanded to include a late-run stocking component. Late-run smolt have been stocked into Seward Lagoon since 1991. The first fish from this stocking effort returned in 1992 and all age classes were available in 1995. While these fish return from late-July through August, the 1995 run peaked during the annual Seward Silver Salmon Derby in mid-August.
Resurrection Bay also provides anglers with a few immature "feeder" kings which weigh only one to three pounds. These rearing fish originate from stocked fish and parent streams outside the Bay and utilize the Bay's rich marine waters as a feeding ground. Feeder kings are usually caught while trolling for coho from early July through August in Eldorado Narrows, Aialik Cape, and the Rugged Island area.
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