Monique Levesque from Whitehorse releases a pink salmon back into Pullen Creek Pond. EG

King salmon abundant in Skagway

By KATIE EMMETS

Those wanting to fish for king salmon can now do so in Pullen Creek and the area surrounding Skagway after the fish have returned to the area in record numbers.
According to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game release, the saltwater area at the mouth of Pullen Creek reopened to king salmon sport fishing on August 6 and will remain in effect for the rest of the season.
Enough king salmon have entered Pullen Creek to meet broodstock needs for the release of smolt in 2014, the release stated.
“There’s a complete night and day difference between this year and last year,” said Skagway’s Aaron Thomas, who monitors the weir for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Thomas said last year there were three females total in Pullen Creek. So far this year, Thomas has already collected 30 females and planned to take more on Thursday after this paper went to print. Though the goal this year is to collect and harvest 50 females, Thomas said there are still about 60 females being stored in cages in Pullen Creek.
The average king salmon female carries about 6,000 eggs, but Thomas said he has seen up to 9,000 eggs in one female before.
Thomas said he takes 2-3 males for every female to ensure the maximum amount of eggs are fertilized.
“I would say probably 98 percent of the eggs we take are fertilized,” he said, adding that there are usually anywhere from 28,000 to 30,000 eggs taken from king salmon in Pullen Pond per summer.
King salmon are not native to Skagway, and encouraging a run began in the late 1980s when Skagway School students maintained the Jerry Myers Hatchery in Pullen Creek next to the White Pass & Yukon Route railway tracks. The students received a national vocational education award in 1990 for their work.
After the students stopped the hatchery a few years later, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game took over, working with the Douglas Island Pink and Chum hatchery in Juneau.
Each summer, the department takes eggs from Pullen Creek and fertilizes them in Juneau where they are kept to mature into smolt. Two years after they arrive at DIPAC’s Macaulay Hatchery, the smolt are taken back to Skagway and released into Pullen Creek to ensure they return to Skagway in 2-4 years.
Since there were only three females returning to Pullen Creek in 2012, Thomas did not take any to harvest for eggs, which means there will not be a king salmon smolt release in 2014.
Thomas said Skagway hasn’t seen a year this abundant for king salmon since 2009.
Because there is an excess amount of kings in Pullen Creek, the Department of Fish and Game is allowing both Alaska residents and non-Alaska residents to take up to four king salmon per day from the pond.
Swimming alongside of the kings in Pullen Pond are pink salmon, which have a native run in the Skagway and Dyea areas. Pinks are also returning to Nelson Slough, the Taiya River and West Creek in Dyea.
Not only were king salmon nearly absent from Skagway waters in 2012 – the pinks were too. Thomas said he attributes this to the pinks’ two-year returning cycle, and added that the pinks in Pullen Pond left Skagway waters in 2011.
The Pullen Creek waters will be open to harvesting king salmon through September 14.

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Skagway’s Becky Jensen struggles up one of the many hills along the Yukon River during her half marathon walk. Marcel Vander Wier, Whitehorse Star

A race along the river
Skagway runners/walkers test tough Yukon River Trail Marathon course

By ELISE GIORDANO

Ten Skagwegians competed in the Yukon River Trail Marathon in Whitehorse on Sunday, Aug. 4.
The trail starts and finishes with paved trail but mainly traverses through rugged single-track trails.
Participants experience mountain views and cut through old lava flows while running through Miles Canyon.
“I think it’s the best race of the year,” John O’Daniel said.
O’Daniel was one of four competing with the Trail Turtles team from Skagway.
“It’s fun,” O’Daniel said. “Everyone is out having a great time.”
This was O’Daniel’s twelfth year participating in the marathon, alongside his sister Theresa Wilson, Amanda Jensen and Robert Murphy.
Due to a foot injury, his wife Cindy O’Daniel was not able to run. Murphy took her spot at the last minute.
O’Daniel said the marathon is something they have always done as a family.
Since his sister beat breast cancer a few years ago, they’ve run it as a celebration of life.
Though O’Daniel tries to make it a fun family event, it doesn’t make the run any less difficult.
He compares it to running up to Lower Dewey Lake and back several times.
O’Daniel has run Leg 4 eight times. This year he ran Leg 2, and has now run every leg of the marathon.
Tight Butts and Sweaty Nuts also competed in the marathon with Patty Fecteau, Alanna Lawson, Tiffanie Potter and Aaron Rodig running. They finished eighth in the mixed teams division with a time of four hours, 26 minutes and 34 seconds.
Jennifer Sasselli ran the entire marathon solo and finished eighth in the women’s open division with a time of 04:39:58.
Becky Jensen walked the half marathon and finished with a time of 03:15:33, the fastest among the three female walkers.
Trail Turtles finished third in the mixed teams division with a time of 04:08:08.
O’Daniel completed leg two with a time of 01:03:01.
“I did not have my best time, O’Daniel said. “But that’s okay, I had a great time.”
To see the full race results, visit the marathon’s website at www.yukonmarathon.com.

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SOFTBALL SEASON SEALER – John and Cindy O’Daniel kiss during a team cookout after Amak Towing won the championship against Balls Deep by forfeit on July 26. Balls Deep had too many team members out of town to compete against Amak. The tugboat team celebrated with hamburgers, hot dogs and beer on behalf of the league. Team members weren’t too heart broken to not play, but were happy to be crowned the champions and eat a victory meal with each other. Elise Giordano