updated 1999 June 20 Home Page

Kodiak Island Alaska

Military History

Devil's Creek Hatchery

History of the Devil's Canyon Sport Fish Hatchery 1952-present.

In the early 1950's Rear Admiral John Perry, Commandant of the 17th Naval District at the Kodiak Naval Station, and an avid fisherman, was party to the building of a fish hatchery on Devil's Creek on the Kodiak Naval Base. He and Clarence J. Rhode, the regional director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Juneau cooperated with many others including the volunteer Kodiak Conservation Club which was formed, as a "front" for the Navy, for the purpose of building and operating a 5,000,000 egg trout hatchery for sport fishermen. Admiral Perry was familiar with Kodiak fishing prior to and after WW II and blamed the failing sport fishery on the military presence. He vowed that the Navy should do it's part to re-establish a sport fishery.

The earliest record in the files of Len Schwarz at Kodiak Fish & Game is dated September 15, 1952 from Clarence Rhode to the American Legion Auxiliary in Kodiak. Flora Spiegel had written Mr. Rhode on August 29 asking about a $75,000 Dingell-Johnson annual appropriation for sport fishing improvement in Alaska.

During late 1952 many letters describe discussions about hatchery plans. Some of the people involved were:

Mr. Roger            Allin, USFWS biologist in charge of Kodiak, (headquarters in Anchorage); 
C. L.                Anderson, Alaska Department of Fisheries, Juneau, 30 August 1955
C. Howard            Baltzo, Acting regional director, USFWS
Fred                 Bitle, fish culturist, USFWS, Naval Station, Kodiak
Norman               Brady, president, KCC November 24, 1954
Jim H.               Branson, enforcement agent, USFWS, Kodiak
Paul                 Chapados, USFWS, Kodiak Refuge Manager
Edward F.            Chatelain, USFWS, Anchorage
Rear Admiral Kenneth Craig, Commandant 17th Naval District 1955
W.A.                 Elkins, Wildlife management supervisor, USFWS, Juneau
Cdr.                 Grant      
Russell              Hoffman, USFWS, Kodiak Refuge Manager
Commander George B.  Kelez, USN;  
Holger               Larsen
Bob                  Lee
Captain N. A.        Lidstone, USN, Kodiak
Roy                  Lindsley, Allin's Kodiak staff; 
Richard A.           Marriott, sport fish biologist ADF&G Kodiak 1964Robert Baade
Mr. Robert           McKinney, Assistant Secretary of the Interior;  
Alex H.              McRea, director sport fish division ADF&G Juneau 1964
Mark                 Meyer, construction superintendent, USFWS, Juneau
Urban C.             Nelson, leader, federal aid, USFWS, Juneau;  
Dan H.               Raiston, acting wildlife administrator, USFWS, Juneau
Dan H.               Ralston, acting regional director, USFWS, Juneau
       [Both spellings of Dan's name are in the files.]
Clarence J.          Rhode, regional director, wildlife administrator, USFWS, Juneau;   
Cdr. Frederick G.    Robinson, president KCC 30 August 1955
Robert               Scott, replaced Chatelain by March 3, 1955
R. F.                Shuman, regional director, USFWS, Juneau;  
Robert               Simon, first ADF biologist at Kodiak, 1956
Will                 Troyer, ADF
Commander M.H.       Wallace, USN, Kodiak
Leslie E.            Whitesel, new at sports fish, USFWS, March 1955, leader, federal aid, 
      March 1956 is supervisor of fish restoration
Herb                 Wright, president KCC March 3, 1955                       
Mr. Shuman described details of the proposed hatchery on Devil's Creek as a 20' x 150' building on the westerly tributary of the Buskin River. After discussions with Admiral Perry, "the Navy will furnish all materials, and (unofficially) all necessary assistance".

Mr. Allin described Admiral Perry's outline for the Kodiak Conservation Club: "This club is to be composed of members of the Navy and civilian employees at the navy base. It is intended that every man in the organization would pledge 100 hours of labor. This labor would be used to construct the physical hatchery facilities, shelter houses in recreation areas, and for non-technical help in hatchery operations. As a reward for the labor expended, each member of the club would be eligible for Navy sponsored fishing trips to one of the two Karluk River camps or elsewhere."

The first meeting of the KCC was on Friday, December 12, 1952, with 50 members present. Mr. Allin said "This group could well prove to be one of those rare true sportsmen groups."

At about this same time, Mr. Rhode instructed Bob Baade of the USFWS in Ketchikan to ship twenty salvaged hatchery baskets from the old Heckman Lake hatchery to Kodiak via the DENNIS WINN in January.

Mr Baltzo wrote a letter to Admiral Perry on January 26, 1953, with a very detailed materials list for the hatchery including 1000 feet of wood or steel 10-14" pipe for the intake. The concrete dam that still exists about 1000 feet upstream of the old hatchery site was built in 1953 by "volunteer" Navy personnel.

During the summer of 1953, Admiral Perry and Mr. Rhode had discussions via radio. The Admiral was dissatisfied with the support from the USFWS. In a letter to the Admiral, Mr. Rhode referenced the Kodiak Konservation Klub and laid out the limited support available but pledged to do what he could. Prices for eyed eggs were $2 per 1000 and $10 per 1000 for frye. The USFWS supported the hatchery by purchasing product. In September 1953 the USFWS bought 565M fry. Some were shipped by PNA to lakes off island.

During 1955 there was quite a bit of dissatisfaction with the program. Some Navy people were not finding fish like they expected to. In a letter to Cdr. F. G. Robinson, USN, Clarence Rhode said:

The Kodiak Island group has received more than its rightful share of attention in stocking programs of the AGC - FWS. These programs were concluded with considerable sacrifice of the limited funds available for this and other conservation work. To those public spirited private individuals and public officials who devoted so much to stocking on Kodiak it would come as a disgraceful shock to learn that the "newcomers" fail to acknowledge the work during earlier years. During the past three decades deer (1924, 1930, 1934), elk (1929), beaver (1925), muskrat 91925), snowshoe hare (1934), mink (1952), marten (1952), squirrel (1948, 1952), and mountain goat (1952, 1953) have been planted. Much of the present hunting and trapping is directly attributed to the stocking work and with proper management most of the future hunting and trapping will be dependent on stocked animals.

"The management of commercial fishing resource is too compli- cated to discuss here, but a review of the record will show that Kodiak has had more than its proportionate attention in the fields of either re- search or management work.

"The citizens under our flag can be assured of a place in our busy world for the famous Kodiak brown bear within the Kodiak Refuge estab- lished in 1941. This Service has been called upon to represent the broad conservation interests of citizenry in the face of often vigorous local opposition. The Kodiak Island bear refuge has demanded considerable effort, energy and funds available to this Service in Alaska. The compli- cated bear-salmon-cattle problem has required extensive investigations.

"Admiral Perry had known Kodiak fishing prior to the war and during his post-war assignment he became aware of the failing sport fishery which he advanced as being the result of heavy fishing pressure. He was determined that the navy should do its part in establishing a hatchery in an effort to re-establish the sport fishery. This Service was well aware of the logical procedure of first determining by pre- liminary survey and study whether or not stocking was needed and what lake and streams in the Kodiak area were suitable for stocking."
This letter of September 13, 1955 goes on for two and a half more pages.

After seeding many Kodiak area lakes and not getting any decent fish populations in the end, on April 1, 1956 the Alaska Department of Fisheries stationed biologist Robert Simon at Kodiak. By treating Jack Lake and Lake Lee with rotenone in the fall of 1956, approximately 120,000 stickleback were eliminated from Jack Lake and 523,000 from Lake Lee. In 1956 eleven road-system lakes were planted with 353,371 fry. (1)

All eggs for the Kodiak hatchery came from the Karluk River. They were taken in May. About half of the eggs were shipped to other hatcheries in the territory. (1)

During 1956 490,000 eyed eggs were shipped to Adak, Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks. 328,830 were held for use at Kodiak. The eggs shipped to other areas were paid for, thereby funding the hatchery operation. 29 lakes on the Kodiak road system were stocked in 1957 and again in 1958. (2)(3)

The file jumps from 1956 to a letter dated June 22, 1964 from Richard A. Marriott, sport fish biologist, ADF&G Kodiak, saying the KCC is considering disbanding.

The next letter is dated June 3, 1988, and concerns electrical service for the "warehouse" in building 523. No mention is made of a hatchery.

In 1979, ADF&G vacated building 522 for the experimantal aircraft association, Chapter 596, Box 632, Kodiak, Steve Moore, president. Apparently the EAA never did lease the building.

In 1981, ADF&G renewed a lease for buildings 526 (1900 SF), 523 (2400 SF), 527 (2428 SF), with Capt. B. S. Beach, CO, USCG Support Center.

In 1988 John B. Murray, area management biologist, sport fish, ADF&G Kodiak, confirmed lease of buildings 523, 526, and 527 at Devil's Creek with Captain J. S. Blackett, CO USCG Support Center, with Al Boudreau, FAC-ENG, USCG, Kodiak. The letter advises that buildings 526 & 527 do not have any electrical service and building 523 has KEA service.

(1) Alaska Department of Fisheries annual report for 1956.
(2) Alaska Department of Fisheries annual report for 1957.
(3) Alaska Department of Fisheries annual report for 1958.

Dam upstream of the hatchery site. Photo Fall 1998. The steel penstock shown connects with wooden culvert and runs about 1000 feet to the hatchery site. There is still a small flow of water in the pipe.

From: "Walter & Joyce Nelson" nelsonwj (at) whidbey.net
Subject: Kodiak Fish Hatchery
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 17:13:12 -0000

Hi Joe
Sorry I took so long to reply to your e-mail. I did work at a fish hatchery on Kodiak Alaska. I do not remember the name of it. It was located on a little stream by the old Pacific Northern Airlines terminal on the north side of the runway. I worked there for Dick Merriot as a biologist aid one. I was a young badge caring youth who loved every aspect of the job. I especially enjoyed the stocking of the surrounding lakes with trout. The harvesting of salmon eggs was also interesting around the island. Do you have an e-mail address for Dick. I would like to say hello to him. As for memories I do have a few. Remember waking up one morning on a salmon egg hunt in a little bay north of Pasadshack (spelling bad ). A light snow fall the night before revealed the largest Kodiak bear tracks I had ever seen right in front, of the entrance to our T E N T. To make things worse, Dick and I did not bring any guns with us, which was not unusual. Needless to say I was glad to harvest our eggs and get the H--- out of there that afternoon. A small piper cub shuttled us out of that place one at a time. The grass was eye high while sitting in the plane. The prop did an excellent job of mowing a little path for us to get out on, ha ha. Hope this is what you were looking for. My dad is not Ted, Kl7JBT

See you later, David Nelson