ALL THE FISH

A conversation with Fish Biologist Randy Brown

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North Slope Dolly Varden in spawning colors. 📷 USFWS

We sat down with Randy Brown (a Fish Biologist in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fairbank Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office) to talk about North Slope Dolly Varden.


All The Fish

Ice fishing for Alaska’s largest whitefish

Siikauraq Martha Whiting, an Inupiaq fisherwoman born and raised in Kotzebue, Alaska talks with us about about all things Sheefish on episode 6 of Fish of the Week!

Siikauraq ice fishing
Siikauraq ice fishing


All the Fish

Primeval Instruments of the Imagination

The lamprey. Your standard Sea Lamprey and Pacific Lamprey are roughly flute-sized. Arctic Lamprey? Piccolo. But that jawless maw is not a embouchure hole, so you won’t want to put your mouth on it. And those aren’t finger holes, they lead to gills.

close up of an artic lamprey
close up of an artic lamprey
Arctic Lamprey 📷 University of Alaska Fairbanks/Trent Sutton

Agnathans (a superclass of cartilaginous jawless fish including lampreys and hagfish) have been on earth since before the dinosaurs. And they haven’t changed much. Fossil lampreys that are 360+ million years old look like modern species — a true testament to their success throughout the eons.


All The Fish

get the most out of your winter

a mom ice fishing with son in Alaska
a mom ice fishing with son in Alaska
A mom ice fishing with her son on a lake near Anchorage, Alaska. 📷 USFWS/Katrina Liebich

Looking for a way to beat the winter blues and teach a young person important life skills? Try ice fishing. You’ll learn about fish and lakes, gain patience, get outside, and maybe even get some clean healthy meals out of it.


All The Fish

The Arctic’s only air-breathing fish

a large alaska blackfish held over the ice
a large alaska blackfish held over the ice
A HUGE Alaska Blackfish! (Dallia pectoralis) 📷 Katrina Liebich

Although rarely exceeding 8 inches in length, this tiny Esocid is arguably the hardiest of Alaska’s fish. Most notably, they’re the only air-breathing fish in the Arctic. In fact, only a few fishes in the world can breathe atmospheric oxygen. Thanks to a modified, gas-absorbing esophagus, the Alaska Blackfish can thrive where other fish can’t, like stagnant waters and seasonal tundra ponds. How neat is that?

Alaska Blackfish spend a lot of time on the bottom of lakes and ponds, where they pursue their prey — small aquatic insects and tiny crustaceans. In winter, when dissolved oxygen levels drop under…


All The Fish

Hard water love in the Alaska winter

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Up close with a Burbot 📷 USFWS

Burbot (Lota lota) are the only freshwater gadoid (cod) in North America (check out that chin whisker!). And with a circumpolar range, they’re one of the most widely distributed freshwater fishes in the world.

Hard Water Love

Winter is a great time to fish for Burbot as they move slowly along river and lake bottoms. Burbot also spawn in winter, under the ice, in writhing masses. It’s dark, and they vocalize to each other by rapidly contracting striated muscles attached to their gas-filled swim bladder. The drumming songs they make have similar beats to those of other closely-related marine cod fishes.

A recommendation


All the Fish

Wintertime fun and table fare with Alaska’s ambush predator

looking down an ice fishing hole
looking down an ice fishing hole
View into the Northern Pike’s winter world. A flasher (upper right) allows anglers to monitor depth and view fish activity in relation to their lure. 📷 Katrina Liebich

Toothy and sleek, there are all kinds of aggressive nicknames for this sit-and-wait predator: Northacuda. Slough Shark. Hammer Handle. Water Wolf.


Employee Profile Series, Alaska

Retiree Francis Mauer reflects on ANILCA, 40 years later

Francis Mauer with a single engine aircraft on skis by USFWS

It was December, 1971. Congress had just passed legislation that addressed Indigenous land claims in the still young State of Alaska: the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). In the same Act, they set an expectation that additional Alaska lands would eventually become national wildlife refuges, parks, forests, and recreation areas. In response, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska immediately called in its most experienced field biologists and managers to identify important wildlife areas. They called this effort the “December Exercise.”

Fran Mauer remembers the team. Bob “Sea Otter” Jones. Cal Lensink. Jim King, Dave Spencer, Will Troyer…


Cora Demit shares her Alaska Native heritage with visitors to Tetlin Refuge

Early life for Cora Demit was defined by family and fish: two concepts that may seem disparate, but in Cora’s case they combined to create the foundation for a joyous childhood.

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Cora Demit. 📷 USFWS

“I was born in Northway south of Tok, but my four siblings and I grew up in a fish camp,” recalls Cora, an Upper Tanana Athabascan tribal member. “It was on an allotment my mother owned, about 20 miles from the village. My father died when I was three years old, so my mother and grandmother raised us. And that camp was our world.”

Only one other family —…


Sylvia Pitka shares Athabascan wisdom with visitors to Alaska

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Deadman Lake, Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. 📷 Michelle Flagan for USFWS

One of Sylvia Pitka’s earliest chores was caring for the family dogs. That’s not unusual in American households, but these dogs were more than pets: they were hard-working household members, essential to the family’s prosperity. And their health and well-being depended on Sylvia’s diligence.

U.S.Fish&Wildlife Alaska

Stories from Alaska by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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