All The Fish

Denizens of the Deep

Kodiak-born angler Stewart Valladolid gave an enthusiastic “Sablefish all the way to the grill!” when we asked which fish he wanted to talk about. So that’s our Fish of the Week!

Stewart with a Coho Salmon.

Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) are a deep-sea fish common to the North Pacific.

How’d you get hooked on Sablefish?

My background with Sablefish was through my dad. He ran a processing plant out of Kodiak and would buy Sablefish from the boats. He’d bring them home—black cod is what we called them. It was a staple in our household. It was really, really good.

“Taking a bite of Sablefish is…I don’t know how to explain it…

All The Fish

Q&A with Dr. Solomon David — Part 2

In part 1, we learned about gar biology. Now we’re going fishing and will learn about the culinary traditions in gar country. (Listen to both podcast episodes here).

man holds a large gar on a boat
man holds a large gar on a boat

We’ve never gone fishing for alligator gar in Louisiana before. Where should we go? We’re blank slates and need some advice.

It says on the license plate Sportsman’s Paradise, so there are plenty of places to go fishing. You can get alligator gars in the bayous, lakes, and also along the coast. Say you’re flying into New Orleans. There are even places around the outskirts of the city where you can catch alligator gar like Lake Pontchartrain.

If you head north you’re going to be in oxbow lakes off the Mississippi River and…

All The Fish

Q&A with Dr. Solomon David — Part 1

[Want to listen instead? Two-part podcast episode here.]

Alligator gars are one of the largest freshwater fishes in North America, the largest freshwater fish in the Mississippi River Valley, and the apex predator in that system.

How did you first learn about gar?

I was always interested in dinosaurs. If you think of prehistoric animals, of course dinosaurs come to mind, but gars have been around since the late Jurassic period. I first saw a gar in an issue of Ranger Rick. I was about 11 years old, flipped to the middle, and saw this fish that looked like an alligator with fins. It had this really…


Drawing inspiration from Alaska’s lands and waters

Artists. Teachers. Birders. Many people draw creative inspiration from the Arctic. They connect us in new ways to Alaska’s public lands by illustrating the connections between the land, wildlife, and people across a variety of artforms — from watercolor to ceramics and poetry.

Michael Boardman

“I did not expect the diversity of birds breeding on the coastal plain that were familiar friends. Semipalmated and Pectoral Sandpipers, Northern Pintail and Long-tailed Ducks, Red-throated Loons, Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs. These birds had all spent time in areas near my home in Maine; along coastal beaches or wetlands, farm fields or on the ocean…

All The Fish

Get to know the cutthroat family

If variety is truly the spice of life, then cutthroat trout — known best for a splash of red on their lower jaw — are pretty spicy (so are rainbow trout).

A trout with a pink cheek and red marking under its jaw
A trout with a pink cheek and red marking under its jaw
A Bear River cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii Utah). 📷 Courtesy of Anastasia and Tyler Coleman

With over a dozen recognized subspecies representing four major evolutionary/geographical groups, these trout vary wildly in size and looks. Some common Oncorhynchus ancestor likely migrated along the Pacific Coast and followed rivers deep into what is now the western United States 3–5 million years ago. The ebb and flow of glaciers fractured and isolated populations, resulting in that variation we see today.

a northern pike flicking its tail
a northern pike flicking its tail
A Northern Pike. 📷 USFW/Sam Stukel

The case started when Northern Pike (a fish that’s found naturally north of the Alaska Range but is considered invasive south of it) were discovered by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Vogel Lake within the Kenai Peninsula’s Miller Creek watershed. Other known pike infestations on the Kenai had already been removed, but the Vogel Lake infestation was the first to be located mostly on Kenai National Wildlife Refuge lands.

All The Fish

Winter saltwater fishing for Chinook Salmon in Alaska

Mike Booz and Holly Dickson join Katrina and Guy for episode 10 of Fish of the Week! They’re Sport Fish Area Managers with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based in Homer, Alaska.

3 king salmon tails on a blue boat deck
3 king salmon tails on a blue boat deck
Three kings on deck. 📷 Courtesy Holly Dickson

When you think about Chinook Salmon (Kings) you may picture the runs that happen in the summer when fish are returning to spawn. But you can also target these fish when they’re at sea during the ocean phase of their life cycle.

Where are these kings originating from and what are they doing in Kachemak Bay this time of year?

They’re from all over the place. It’s really a mix-stocked fishery. They come from all over the west coast and Gulf of Alaska. California…

At sea & behind the scenes of “The Last Unknown”

In the summer of 2019, photographer Ian Shive joined the research biologists and ship’s crew of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge aboard the R/V Tiglax for an insider’s look at the vast, enigmatic, and remote Aleutian Islands. He shares the experience and the refuge’s research to a wider audience with the debut of a 60-minute nature documentary special, “The Last Unknown.”

Check out some of what Shive saw and catch up with a few of the refuge’s star appearances, including millions of auklets, sparring fur seals, steaming volcanoes, monuments of war, and the one-of-a-kind Tiglax, a 120-foot floating platform for…

A (safe) look into the mouths of Alaska’s bears

What comes to mind when you think of bears? Smokey? Losing the playoffs? What about teeth? Whether you’re hunting, fishing, hiking, or just outside taking out the trash, it’s hard not to have teeth come to mind when you find yourself in bear country.

Kodiak brown bear looking directly at the camera
Kodiak brown bear looking directly at the camera
Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge is home to some of the largest brown bears in North America. Many taxonomists consider “Kodiaks” to be a sub-species. 📷 Lisa Hupp/USFWS

If you’re a lifetime resident or just visiting Alaska, eventually you’ll encounter a bear (even if that’s only the large brown bear mounted in Anchorage International Airport). When you do see one, how much will you know about it? Its behavior? Its diet? Its teeth?

Bears of Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges

Alaska is lucky enough to have three species of bear within…

Part I: Early Winter on the Ice

The great white bears that walk the land and sea ice of northeastern Alaska and northwestern Canada make up the southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation of polar bears in the circumpolar North. Indigenous peoples have lived here for thousands of years with Nanuuq, the Inupiaq name for the polar bear; traditional knowledge holds great respect for the bear, in part for its clever adaptations to hunting and living on both sea and land and surviving in difficult conditions.

The behavior and biology of the Beaufort Sea bears inspired the following story of a year in the life of a female polar…

U.S.Fish&Wildlife Alaska

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

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