Fish and Aquatic Resource Management
The phrase "fish and aquatic resource management" encompasses several topics. These include National Park Service efforts to manage sport fishing activities, to conduct fishery research, to manage the use of on-shore facilities supporting commercial fishing adjacent to the park (including clamming), and to deal with sister resource management agencies determined to enhance aquatic habitats and park fish populations for commercial exploitation outside the park.
Although 24 species of fish are reported in Katmai National Park and Preserve, only two species have been the subject of most management and research efforts. These are sockeye salmon and rainbow trout, both of which are found in Brooks and Naknek lakes, the Naknek River, Brooks River and many other lakes and streams in Katmai. Five species of Pacific salmon--chum (dog), coho (silver), sockeye (red), pink (humpback), and chinook (king)--are found in Katmai. Of these, the sockeye are the most numerous and widely distributed in park and preserve waters. Bristol Bay is the largest producer of sockeye salmon in the world. Based on the period 1980 to 1989, about 4.4 percent of Bristol Bay salmon spawn in the waters of Katmai National Park and Preserve. 
The combined park and preserve includes more than 70 percent of the 3,640-square-mile Naknek River drainage. The adjacent Kvichak River drainage also includes territory within Katmai. Together, the two drainages attract over 19.3 million sockeye salmon each year. Averages for the period 1980 to 1989 indicate that slightly over half of those sockeyes are commercially harvested as they approach the mouths of the Naknek and Kvichak rivers. An additional 844,000 are harvested in the False Pass interception fishery and 123,000 are taken in foreign high seas fisheries. About 1.5 million enter the Naknek River drainage, while an additional 6.6 million enter the Kvichak River drainage. Approximately 182,000 of those heading up the Kvichak enter the drainage of the Alagnak River.  Streams in the Naknek and Alagnak drainages are in Katmai National Park and Preserve, or have tributaries in it. 
Humans have exploited Katmai's aquatic resources for centuries. Archeological evidence documents that the streams and lakes in the park have been rich fisheries for more than 2,000 years.  Over the millennia, the Katmai fisheries have provided subsistence for Native Alaskans living in the region and, more recently, offshore commercial and sport fishing for non-Native visitors to the Naknek drainage area. By the mid-1980s, subsistence users were harvesting over 180,000 salmon annually and sport anglers were taking over 25,000 salmon in the Bristol Bay region. 
In addition to large numbers of salmon that return to Katmai lakes and streams each year, there is a large population of rainbow trout in those lakes and streams. Some of the trout grow to over 30 inches in length. People also fish Katmai waters for Arctic grayling, Dolly Varden, Arctic char, lake trout, and northern pike. 
Curiously, Robert F. Griggs, the scientist who did so much to cause the expansion of Katmai National Monument beyond the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, did not mention the area's outstanding fishing in correspondence urging the 1931 expansion, although he noted the spectacle of fish leaping at the Brooks River falls as a visual attraction.  But when the National Park Service began active management of Katmai, the fishery resource quickly became a focus of management concern.
Subsistence use, commercial use outside the park, potential commercial use inside the park, and sport fishing pressure have combined to stimulate investigation and require controls on the taking of Katmai's fish. Commercial use of clams found in the tidal zone on the Shelikof Strait side of Katmai also required management activity, in the form of permits for use of on-shore clam processing facilities and worker housing. Efforts to manage Katmai's salmon and trout populations follow, while attempts to manage the clam resource are included at the end of the chapter.
Commercial rather than sport fishing first affected Katmai's fish populations. The first salmon cannery was opened on Kodiak Island, on Karluk Spit, in 1882; one year later, the first Bristol Bay cannery opened at Nushagak. Every year since then, commercial fishermen have influenced the Katmai-bound salmon population. 
Shortly after World War I, the first of two salmon canneries opened on the eastern margins of the present park. In 1922, the Kamishak Canning Company built a cannery at Kamishak Bay. It put up only one pack, however, and was not used again. A year later, the Hemrich Packing Company opened a clam-canning operation at Kukak Bay. The year after it opened, it also went into business as a salmon cannery. In 1925, the company leased its facility to the Seashore Packing Company, who put up a pack for the next three years. The Hemrich Packing Company operated the salmon and clam cannery on its own in 1928, but leased it again to the Seashore Packing Company for the 1929 through 1931 seasons. In 1932, the cannery was leased by the Pioneer Packing Company. The plant was closed for the next two years, but Surf Canneries purchased it and operated it in 1935 and 1936. The site was abandoned after the 1936 season. The Kukak Bay facility differed from most of the other canneries in that it did not employ fish traps as part of its operations. 
The post-World War I period was also the time when fisheries interests began to enter the Katmai area from the west. The U.S. Bureau of Fisheries  decided to undertake a predatory fish destruction program in the various major Bristol Bay tributaries. (At that time, salmon was the only fish desired by local canneries. Therefore, any species which preyed on salmon was considered undesirable.) The Bureau included a broad survey of fish populations as part of that survey, and studied the Naknek Lake system as well as the other major drainages. In early June of 1920, a four man party headed by A. T. Looff of the College of Fisheries, University of Washington, began its Naknek Lake investigations.
Looff and his crew quickly surveyed the margins of the lake and found that
The crew found Kidawik Creek to be "an ideal salmon stream with fine spawning bottom ... where good numbers of lake trout and some Dolly Vardens were taken." They camped at its mouth and then ascended to "a waterfall from 5 to 8 feet high, over which it would be impossible for fish to ascend during low-water stage." In an attempt to improve its spawning possibilities, the crew proceeded to modify the falls. They had no powder, but
A crew returned the following year and used dynamite to widen the slot. 
Fisheries crews returned to Naknek Lake and the Brooks River each year from 1920 through 1925; in 1924 and 1925, they also included Lake Coville and Lake Grosvenor in their investigation. During that time, they killed more than 13,000 sportfish, primarily rainbow trout, lake trout, and Dolly Varden. The Bureau of Fisheries ignored Naknek Lake for the next decade. Below the lake, however, it remained active. In 1928, it established a fisheries station five miles upriver from Naknek, and maintained a salmon-counting weir at the site until 1932. 
In 1936, biologists showed renewed interest in the Brooks Lake area. They noticed that Brooks Falls was not a block to red salmon under normal conditions. During seasons of low water, however, they observed that many died unspawned below the falls, presumably because of injury caused in attempting to negotiate them. Based on that overview, they made plans for "blasting steps in the falls" in the spring of 1937. Those plans, however, were put on hold for the time being. 
In 1938, concern about Japanese offshore fishing in the Bristol Bay area brought about a renewal of interest in Katmai's fisheries resource. Congress directed an investigation of the salmon fisheries of Bristol Bay. The plan, conceived in 1938, was to have one team tag and mark fish in the bay, while land-based teams were to set up operations along the five major bay drainages. Naknek River received a three man team in 1939, which made a survey of the river system's major spawning grounds.  The following year, the Bureau of Fisheries decided to concentrate their Naknek basin research efforts along the mile-long Brooks River. Fisheries personnel were well aware of the stream's abundant fish runs and felt that the stream was representative of others draining into Bristol Bay. 
The Bureau of Fisheries, which became part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1940, asked the National Park Service for, and received, permission that year to build a research station and fish weir on Brooks Lake. The "station" was to consist of nothing more pretentious than a small frame building or tent frame to shelter personnel temporarily stationed at the lake.  Park Service reviewers criticized design of the structure, which turned out to be a large log building. Despite the quibbling, the Park Service approved plans for a field laboratory on Brooks Lake. Early the following year, they granted the F&WS a permit for use of Katmai's lands and waters. 
In the spring of 1940, fisheries personnel made a 21-day trip from Seattle to Naknek on the F&WS vessel Scoter. Initially, building materials were taken up the Naknek River to a landing area below the rapids. The materials were then moved overland by tractor-drawn sled to the west end of Naknek Lake. From there, the materials were rafted and towed by small power dory to the mouth of Brooks River.
To get from there to the outlet of Brooks Lake, personnel first dragged materials in small one-man rafts up Brooks River to the mouth of Brooks Lake. But it soon became clear that this system would not deliver materials to Brooks Lake and allow construction of a weir before the arrival of the year's salmon run. The Fish and Wildlife Service therefore arranged for Woodley Airways to fly the unrafted materials to Brooks Lake, although this meant cutting lumber to sizes that would fit into a floatplane or strapping longer pieces to the floats. A trail connecting Naknek and Brooks Lakes was also roughed out that year. The herculean efforts to speed delivery and construction worked. Fisheries personnel completed the weir in 1940 in time for the arrival of the first salmon. 
The following year, George Eicher and George Hill drove a tractor and sled overland from the west end of Naknek Lake to the southwest end of Brooks Lake, then on to Brooks Lake's outflow, all in a harrowing three-day trip. The tractor then headed east and hacked out a rough road as it went; it reached Naknek Lake near the mouth of Brooks River. The mile-long road was used repeatedly and was gradually improved over the years. The road is still used and is maintained by the National Park Service. The 30-mile tractor route which Eicher and Hill used from the outlet of Naknek Lake to Brooks Lake, however, was never used again. 
Fisheries research in the Naknek drainage continued during World War II. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel at the Brooks River weir counted escapements into Brooks Lake of 97,496 sockeye salmon in 1940, 125,948 in 1941, 360,899 in 1942, 272,929 in 1944, and 184,319 in 1945.  Construction on the Brooks Lake research station, which had begun in 1941, was completed by the close of the 1943 field season. In 1941, F&WS personnel also built and operated a second station just below the Naknek River rapids. They proposed that year that they would construct a fish ladder over Brooks Falls in 1942 or 1943, just as they had in 1937, but the reduction in personnel caused by the war forced them to postpone their plans. 
At war's end, F&WS biologists began tagging studies on Brooks River and aerial spawning ground surveys on the entire Bristol Bay watershed. "Index areas" were identified on each of the main river systems and photographed each year. Researchers then counted fish in the photographs and developed annual statistics. 
Throughout this period, the National Park Service had only the vaguest idea of what the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and its successor, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, were doing along the Brooks River and elsewhere in the monument. The NPS had no jurisdiction over most of Naknek Lake before President Hoover expanded the monument in April 1931, and for years afterward the Service had no inkling of the activities and improvements which had been undertaken by Bureau of Fisheries personnel during the 1920s. What compounded the problem was NPS's own ignorance of the area. The first NPS presence in the monument was a brief 1937 visit, and the first detailed reconnaissance did not take place until September 1940.  As noted above, fisheries personnel in the spring of 1940 asked permission to construct the Brooks Lake fisheries laboratory, and agency representatives met several times during Been's field visit. Thereafter, little communication took place for the rest of the decade.
The eastern side of the monument witnessed both fisheries research and commercial activities during the 1940s. The U.S. Bureau of Fisheries had established a Kodiak office in 1924, and ever since, the agency had made intermittent studies of the salmon spawning areas along the monument's eastern shore. In 1941, the Alaska Game Commission agent at Kodiak noted that the Bureau of Fisheries (which had become part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the year before) had two watchman's cabins on the south side of Kaflia Bay. Why they were located there is uncertain; because there were no fish traps in the area, the cabins were probably associated with a salmon research study.  As noted above, a salmon cannery (in conjunction with a clam cannery) had been located at Kukak Bay from 1924 to 1932 and from 1935 to 1936. Salmon canners ignored the monument's eastern shore for the next decade, but in 1947 the Cape Douglas Canning Corporation packed salmon at Swikshak Bay. Mainland Fisheries then purchased the corporation's equipment and moved it to Kukak Bay, from whence it operated a salmon and clam cannery from 1948 through 1951. The cannery lay idle for the next three years, but after the 1954 season Mainland abandoned the site. 
As noted above, Bureau of Fisheries personnel first considered and planned the installation of a fish ladder at Brooks Falls in 1936. For the next ten years, they sought the funds to construct the facility, apparently unaware that the NPS would have any objections to it. In 1947, engineers and biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Montlake Laboratory at Seattle designed the fishway.
In 1948, a four-man crew went to Brooks River to start construction. Materials went to Brooks Lake by air and to the falls by tractor and sled. Gravel and sand for concrete came from the beach at Brooks Lake.  Four U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees--John Hurst, Mike Michel, Mike Wold, and Jerry O'Neil--blasted and hewed the ladder from solid rock to make it as natural-appearing as possible. Ten feet in width and at the south side of the falls, the ladder had seven pools, each one foot above the other. A headgate metered water into the topmost pool. The fisheries employees completed the ladder, except for the bottommost pool, in 1949.  The remaining portions were completed early the next summer, and the ladder opened on August 7, 1950. Willie Nancarrow, who was serving as the NPS ranger that summer, reported that "in the next week a marked increase in the number of fish going through the weir could be seen." 
Alfred C. Kuehl, Landscape Architect for the Region Four office of the NPS, first became aware of the fish ladder construction in August 1948. He visited Brooks River as F&WS engineers were finalizing plans for the ladder.  He came again in September 1949 during the midst of construction work. This time Herbert Maier, Assistant Director of Region Four, accompanied him. Neither protested the construction, either while visiting the site or after they returned to San Francisco. 
In late June 1950, Kuehl and George L. Collins, Chief of the Park Service's Alaska Recreation Survey, arrived at Katmai to find the fish ladder nearing completion. They made no protest at the time, but Collins was clearly perturbed at what he saw. After they returned to the regional headquarters, Collins let the regional director know his feelings:
Regional Director Owen Tomlinson, in turn, protested to the agency's Washington office. Forwarding photographs taken by Kuehl and Collins at Brooks River a month earlier, Tomlinson wrote that "this structure hardly complies with Park Service principles relating to the preservation of natural structures." Tomlinson noted that the regional office had no formal agreement in its files authorizing U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operations in Katmai. He asked for information on the authority for F&WS operations in the monument "so we can prevent further occurrences of this nature." 
After receiving Tomlinson's memorandum, the NPS directorate in Washington wrote to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The NPS asked the F&WS why it built the ladder without authorization. The F&WS, in response, admitted its error in constructing the ladder without written permission, but pled that Kuehl and Collins had expressed no objection when at the construction site. Eicher, who was at Brooks River in 1948, 1949, and 1950, recalled that Kuehl made several suggestions for making the fishway compatible with the surroundings. He suggested placing spoil from the blasting in the depression at the north end of the falls and keying the ladder weirs into the excavated trough as much as possible. This would hide the weirs when filled with water. 
After receiving the F&WS letter, Acting NPS Director Ronald Lee expressed surprise that Park Service officials had witnessed fish ladder construction for two years without protesting. He asked Alfred Kuehl to explain his actions. Reviewing the situation in 1951, Kuehl noted he had reported the fish ladder's construction to the regional director after both his 1948 and 1949 visits. He admitted, however that he "considered the installation no more objectionable than the fish weir across the mouth of Brooks Lake." He also erred, he admitted, in assuming that the F&WS and the NPS had signed an Inter-Bureau agreement relating to permissible activities at the site. Not until after his 1949 visit did he find that no such agreement had ever been signed. In sum, however, Kuehl felt that he had acted properly. On the one hand, he felt that the ladder had "not resulted in a glaring distractive feature." Beyond that, he felt that the area surrounding the Brooks River was of marginal value to the agency. He noted that an inspection of the boundary had been made in 1947, and "at that time it appeared that it might ultimately be advisable to eliminate approximately 25% of the Monument area which would include the entire Brooks Lake region." Those reasons, plus "a desire to maintain amiable relations in view of the splendid protective services rendered by the Fish and Wildlife Service in the Monument for many years" prompted him to refrain from protesting against the fish ladder's construction. 
Collins, who was an ardent defender of Katmai's resources, saw things in a wholly different light. He was angry that the NPS had acquiesced to the F&WS along the Brooks River, and was angry at Kuehl who, by not protesting a year or two earlier, might have prevented the fish ladder from being constructed. He also hinted darkly that personal relationships may have gotten in the way of Kuehl's professional responsibilities. Kuehl, he knew, was a good friend of George Kelez, the head of the F&WS Bristol Bay program, and his friendship may have muted any opposition he may have had to it.  It is more likely, however, that Kuehl stood by during the fish ladder's construction because he was simply not aware that the NPS would want to object to such an activity without first obtaining a permit.
Commercial fishermen had been using the products of the Naknek drainage since the 1880s, and fisheries personnel had been investigating Naknek Lake and its tributaries since the early 1920s. The first record of sport fishing in the area, however, does not appear until the early 1940s. By this time, pilots such as Ray Petersen, Bert Ruoff and John Walatka had become familiar with the monument; they may also have tarried awhile and tossed a line into its lakes and streams. By 1942, pilots were carrying Naknek cannery workers into the monument on charter flights. Work at the canneries was intense but periodic. During breaks between the salmon runs, Ray Petersen and his fledgling Ray Petersen Flying Service began flying them to Brooks Lake and other local fishing holes. 
About the same time, off-duty military personnel from Kodiak Naval Operating Base, Naknek Army Air Base (later called King Salmon), and Fort Richardson in Anchorage began to visit Katmai for the sport fishing. To accommodate the increasing number of anglers, the U.S. Army Air Corps established two rest and recreation camps nearby. Naknek Recreation Annex No. 1, informally called Rapids Camp, was the enlisted men's camp and was located at the foot of the Naknek River rapids, five miles southeast of Naknek Air Base. Annex No. 2, called Lake Camp, was the officers' camp. It was located at the west end of Naknek Lake, eight miles east of the base and seven miles upstream from Rapids Camp. The initial public land withdrawal at the two camps took place on January 22, 1943. 
By 1945, the Navy at Kodiak was considering the establishment of its own fishing camps in the area. The agency hoped to create two such camps, each of which would be composed of so-called "Yakutat huts," prefabricated wood structures with low-pitched roofs. Kodiak's camp commander wanted to first establish a camp "near the head of the Naknek River, just northwest of Naknek Lake." He later hoped to build a second camp "one-half mile east of Brooks Falls."  The General Land Office soon gave the Navy permission to build a Naknek River camp, and Grant Pearson, the Superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park, thought that the idea of a Navy camp near Brooks Falls was "reasonable." Soon afterwards, the Navy backed off and decided not to build either facility. Personnel from Kodiak, however, continued to fly into the area. In 1948, Mark Meyers, an F&WS enforcement agent at Kodiak, reported that the military took several parties a week into Brooks River for fishing vacations. The military personnel, presumably from the naval base at Kodiak, took more large trout than they could consume. 
The Air Force, which had been created in 1947 as a separate agency within the Department of Defense, moved two years later to formally establish the two recreation annexes near King Salmon which had been informally created in the early days of World War II. In May 1949, the Air Force applied to have the two sites withdrawn as recreation areas "Inasmuch as military facilities are presently constructed on the unsurveyed site of the public domain...." The agency initially withdrew more than 300 acres at each site; in September of 1949, the Air Force reduced its request to 10 acres at each site.  In 1956, the Bureau of Land Management approved the Air Force request. Public Land Order 1350 of October 23, 1956, withdrew the camp sites from the public domain for Air Force recreational use. 
Military use at the west end of Naknek Lake and on the Naknek River continued until Lake and Rapids camps were permanently closed by the Air Force in 1976. Its use of Brooks River, however, dropped off shortly after the establishment of the Northern Consolidated camps in 1950. 
During the mid- to late 1940s, an increasing number of both civilian and military personnel visited Katmai's lakes and streams. Cannery workers visited the monument less often and were soon replaced by fishermen who began to arrive from locations across the territory and from the United States as well. Many of those anglers were brought into the monument on Northern Consolidated Airlines, a newly-created carrier headed by Ray Petersen. The three principal fishing destinations in the Katmai area were "The lagoon at the outlet to Naknek Lake, the connection between the Coville and Grosvenor Lakes and to the Brooks River." (Those locations are the site of present-day Lake Camp, Grosvenor Camp, and Brooks Camp, respectively.) 
As the number of fishermen to the Brooks River increased, so did the pressure on the fishing resource. By 1948, as many as 20 anglers per week were rainbow fishing on Brooks River. A Standard Oil film produced that year included scenes in which "anglers had accumulated so many of the huge fish they were scarcely able to carry the weight to their plane."  The fish resource was being abused to the point where "trout were caught with gobs of salmon eggs on giant Colorado spinners and hooks." Fish and Wildlife representatives stationed at Brooks Lake that summer noted "quite definitely that the rainbow trout have decreased as the result of the popularity to air borne sportsmen." 
Ray Petersen, who was an ardent fisherman as well as an airline executive, was an early advocate for the imposition of fishing regulations. He could see that two distinct fishing groups flew into the Brooks River area: Alaskans, who were "hardware and bait" fishermen, and "stateside" anglers, who were fly fishing enthusiasts. Petersen knew that any regulations that might be established would have to favor one group over the other. Petersen observed that fly fishermen outnumbered the "hardware and bait" fishermen; he therefore advocated that Brooks River be limited to fly fishing only. George B. Kelez, who headed the Fish and Wildlife Service's efforts at the Brooks Lake laboratory, agreed. 
Senior Park Service officials also expressed concern about overfishing at the monument. They believed the Park Service needed to find some way to protect Katmai National Monument and regulate the public's use of it. But they had been unable to establish a presence at the monument.  (As noted in Chapter 3, they had hoped to send a ranger to Katmai during that summer. Funding for the position, however, had fallen through.) NPS officials were aware that agency regulations prohibited airplane landings in the monument by all but official personnel; as a corollary to that regulation, they had the power to arrest anyone who landed a float plane on Naknek or Brooks Lake. Superintendent Grant Pearson of Mount McKinley National Park, however, recognized that it was far more prudent to change the regulation than to prevent visitation. In 1949, therefore, the monument was opened to summertime air traffic.
In June 1950, shortly after Northern Consolidated opened its first fishing camps in Katmai National Monument, the F&WS established its first monument-wide fishing regulations. (As noted below, the agency assumed that it had the right to do so, even in an NPS unit.) The regulations stated that "The limit of catch per person per day shall not exceed two red salmon, and ten fish or 10 pounds and one fish of any other species. Possession of more than one day's limit of fish by any one person at any one time is prohibited." On Brooks River, tackle was restricted to two flies; elsewhere in the monument, tackle could "consist of not more than two flies or not more than one plug, spoon, or spinner, to which may be attached not more than one treble hook." 
Once they had established a presence, the NPS recognized that the goals of NPS and F&WS management were often disparate, and NPS officials felt that they too ought to have a say in determining monument fishing regulations. Clarence J. Rhode, Regional Director of the F&WS in Alaska, visited Brooks Camp on July 12 in hopes of clarifying the agencies' fishery management responsibilities.
After his return to Juneau, he told the F&WS director that, in his opinion, the F&WS exercised authority over the management of commercial fish such as salmon. The NPS, however, exercised authority over game fish such as grayling and trout. What complicated the matter was that of Brooks River's two main species, one (rainbow trout) was a game fish and was sought by anglers, while the other (red salmon) was a commercial fish and was prized primarily by the Bristol Bay canneries (although it was a popular sports fish, too). Rhode was concerned that the NPS ranger was paying little attention to the salmon-fishing regulation. On a more general level, he was
Local interpretations and incomplete definition of authorities created further complications. Fifteen days before Rhode had visited Katmai, one of his agency's wildlife biologists had stated, in a meeting with Park Service officials in Anchorage, that sports fishing for salmon (a commercial fish) was not covered by commercial fisheries regulations. Therefore, according to the biologist, there would be no F&WS objection if Katmai visitors fished for salmon close to the Brooks River fish ladder. F&WS regulations, however, did prohibit the taking of game fish (such as rainbows) within 500 feet of fish ladders. 
Another problem faced by both NPS and F&WS officials was the overfishing of salmon. During the late 1940s the trout population had suffered from overfishing, but the problem was eliminated when new fly-fishing regulations had been imposed. The regulations imposed for salmon were not particularly strict, and by 1951 officials agreed that the current salmon catch rate--up to 100 per hour at times--was harmful to the fishery. 
After the close of the 1951 fishing season, Rhode wrote NPS Director Demaray and made some suggestions that, he hoped, would clear up the jurisdictional tug-of-war and restore a healthy salmon run back to the Brooks River. He urged the NPS to prohibit angling--for any species--within 300 feet below Brooks River Falls and within 300 feet of the weir at the exit of Brooks Lake. By this time, the NPS had also suggested that the daily salmon catch be limited to two, including those caught and released. 
Northern Consolidated, which operated the various fishing camps, met with Regional Director Lawrence Merriam and fought against the agencies' proposals. Don Horter, who served as NCA's publicist, noted that national magazines and newspapers such as Argosy, Colliers, Esquire, The New York Times, and The Saturday Evening Post were about to publish stories on Katmai's superlative fishing. Horter protested against any regulations that would restrict angling at the base of Brooks Falls because "most of the fishermen come to the monument in order to hook salmon at the base of Brooks Falls."  The concessioner was also disturbed about the proposal to limit catch and release. Horter said he had fished Brooks River for seven years and believed unlimited catch and release would not harm the fishery, and vowed that the two regulations would force NCA to abandon its Brooks Camp operation. Merriam sent the details of his meeting to NPS Director Arthur Demaray. 
On October 3, Director Demaray responded to Rhode and readily accepted his suggestion regarding fishing at the weir. Because of NCA pressure, Demaray rejected any regulations concerning Brooks Falls. The director, however, held fast with the agency's suggestion that anglers be limited to a daily catch of no more than two red salmon, including fish hooked and released. Fisheries personnel believed that even "catch and release" weakened salmon and would diminish the fishery. 
More discussions took place between the two agency heads during the winter of 1951-52. Many compromises were suggested; at one point, the Chief Counsel of the NPS suggested that bait be limited to flies within 100 yards above and below the Brooks River weir. That suggestion was rejected. 
By late spring, the compromise regulations were finally agreed upon and were submitted to the Federal Register. The new catch limits were the same as those issued in 1950 except that they included the NPS-suggested limitation on catch and release fishing. Allowable types of lures were also modified; instead of allowing a treble hook to be attached to each artificial lure, not more than two single hooks were allowed. In addition, fishing was prohibited within 100 yards of the weir. Finally, a compromise was reached in regards to fishing at Brooks River falls. The two agency heads decided to prohibit fishing within 100 yards above the fish ladder and on the ladder itself. Fishing below the ladder, however, was not prohibited. 
During the 1950s, most of Katmai's visitors were attracted by the sport fishing. Most approved of the various fishing regulations. Others, however, felt them to be overly restrictive. A 1953 visitor, for example, complained that the Katmai ranger "did not approve of the fly I was using." He went on to suggest that any sort of fly be permitted and grumbled, "Another thing, no one cares to catch many fish as they must clean their own if they wish to have them cooked. There are no icing facilities so there is no incentive to catch fish to bring home." 
The first scientific look at the sport fishing potential of and assessment of sport fishing pressures in the area came in 1954. At the request of the NPS, John Greenbank of the F&WS did a sport fish survey of Katmai National Monument. Greenbank and assistant Ronald Lopp worked through the summer of 1954 and described monument waters, examined fish distribution and abundance, sampled fish populations, and conducted creel censuses in various locations. Overall, the survey found fish populations high and fishing pressure light. Most fishing within the monument occurred in Brooks River. Practically no fishing took place in Brooks Lake. Naknek Lake was fished only at the mouth of Brooks River. A limited amount of fishing, probably not over 200 hours in the summer of 1954, took place at Lake Grosvenor and in front of Coville (Grosvenor) Camp. Pike Lake, north of Brooks Lake, experienced about 50 hours of fly-in fishing. There was also fishing in the vicinity of the Air Force camps on Naknek River. Overall, the censuses recorded that during the summer there had been 843 fishing hours on Brooks River with a total of 906 fish, primarily rainbow trout, caught; 1794 fishing hours on Naknek River with a total of 1279 fish, primarily rainbow trout, caught; and 128 fishing hours on Naknek Lake with a total of 98 fish, mostly red salmon and lake trout, caught. 
When the field survey was completed and the collected data was analyzed, Greenbank made several recommendations. He suggested that: 1) the restriction of fishing in Brooks River to artificial flies be retained, 2) the prohibition against use of two or more hooks or flies per line be rescinded, 3) the prohibition against fishing within 300 feet above Brooks Falls be abandoned, 4) the daily catch limit for sockeye salmon be two fish killed, with no limit on the number caught and released, 5) all size limits on fish be dropped, and 6) no fish of any species be artificially stocked in waters of the monument, and no new species introduced. Greenbank further recommended that consideration be given to development of a lake trout and northern pike sport fishery, establishment of a perpetual catch reporting system for Brooks River, and continuation of field studies. He believed that it was particularly important to conduct a survey of the rainbow trout population of the Naknek River system. 
Efforts to perfect fishing regulations for Katmai continued. In the summer of 1955, Dorr G. Yeager, Regional Chief of Interpretation of the NPS, visited Katmai and discussed angling regulations with F&WS personnel, including Regional Director Clarence Rhode. As a result, Yeager believed that it would "not be objectionable to permit the use of hardware with barbless hooks in a definite area." He thought the "lower pool on Brooks River beside the fish rack on the east side of the river" might be a suitable spot to test this relaxation of fly-fishing only restrictions. 
In 1956, the NPS responded to earlier suggestions by adopting new fishing regulations. Following John Greenbank's advice, it removed limits on the number of red salmon which were hooked and released. (Greenbank's other suggestions were ignored.) The agency also agreed with Dorr Yeager and opened the lower 880 feet of Brooks River near its mouth to fishing with "plugs, spoons, and spinners with not more than one barbless treble hook and not more than one attractor blade" as well as to artificial flies. 
Katmai fishermen, who still comprised the vast majority of monument visitors, welcomed the new, relaxed regulations. A few, however, felt that Katmai's regulations could be safely ignored. An NPS naturalist who visited Brooks Camp in 1958 noted
To ward off their feeling of possessiveness, Park Service officials warned NCA and anyone else who would listen that sport fishing was only incidental to Katmai's scenic and scientific values. Other monument values were more important.  This policy was not specific to Katmai; but, as later formalized, it was applied to all Park Service areas. Fishing was to be permitted throughout the National Park System but under management programs directed toward "perpetuation, restoration, and protection of native species and wild populations of fishes [and] directed so as not to decrease the wildlife, scenic, scientific, or historic values of the Park." Promotional types of publicity related to fishing in America's national park areas were to be discouraged. 
In 1959, Alaska became a state. The Statehood Act, among its other provisions, specified that Mount McKinley National Park was the only park unit where state fish and game regulations would not apply. As a result, control of sport fishing largely passed from the federal government (Department of the Interior) to state government (Alaska Department of Fish and Game). By early 1961, state fishing regulations were in effect at Katmai. Federal regulations also remained in effect.  The two sets of regulations would seem, at first glance, to be confusing. They do not appear to have conflicted, however, and Katmai park rangers appear to have had little difficulty in enforcing both sets of regulations.
In 1960, the new state government created a series of local advisory committees to provide information and advice to the Department of Fish and Game on fishing areas throughout the state. The Naknek Advisory Committee was appointed to oversee fishing conditions and policies throughout the Naknek drainage. The committee, later renamed the Naknek/Kvichak Game and Fishery Advisory Committee, is still active. [ 68]
In 1966, the Ranger-in-Charge pointed out the need for creel checks to promote barbless hook provisions on Brooks River.  Nothing seems to have come of this. Inspecting sport fish might not have given much information on fish mortality due to barbed hooks and, in any case, creel censuses are usually conducted to measure harvests, describe fish populations, and enforce regulations including the regulation on barbless lures in the lower river. Only indirectly are they used to promote a point of view or the need for a change in policy.
In 1969, the heavily-fished western end of Naknek Lake was added to the monument. Augie Reetz, Alaska's Commissioner of Fish and Game, loudly decried the move, noting that "From the standpoint of fish and game management or, more specifically, fish and game utilization, National Monument regulations are too restrictive." The Naknek River wound back and forth across the western boundary line, and state and federal officials recognized that actions had to be taken to create consistent fishing regulations. A year later, the state moved to regulate the fishing in the newly-added acreage when the Naknek River above Big Creek was designated a single-hook area. This restriction remained until 1976. 
Since 1963, the number of Brooks Camp fishermen had been progressively outnumbered by those who did not fish, and by 1970 anglers constituted only about 10 to 20 percent of Brooks Camp visitors. Many of those anglers, however, were dedicated to their craft. An NPS official, who visited in late July, noted that
Depending on the situation, state fishery management officials could be either more liberal or more conservative than the Park Service in their attitudes toward Katmai sport fishing. In 1971, the state prohibited fishing within 50 feet of the fish ladder. Two years later, however, the prohibited distance was increased to 300 feet, except when the ladder was closed.  In 1972, the Alaska Board of Fisheries increased the limit of the Katmai area salmon catch from two to five; at the same time, however, it reduced the bag limit of other fish species (including rainbows) from ten to five. Two years later, however, a poor salmon run forced the state to temporarily lower the bag limit to two. 
Partly in response to the reduction in the bag limit for rainbow trout, the National Park Service, in 1973, simplified its regulations pertaining to fishing in Katmai. The NPS eliminated the regulations which it had adopted in 1950 regarding catch limits; the agency apparently felt that the state regulations, which had been adopted in 1972, were sufficient. The NPS also revised its regulations on bait and lures; it eliminated the cumbersome language which it had adopted in 1950 and 1956, and replaced it with two simple regulations. First, fishing throughout the monument was permitted only with artificial lures, and second, only fly fishing was permitted on the Brooks River between Brooks Lake and the posted signs near Brooks Camp. Because the National Marine Fisheries Service was no longer operating a weir along the Brooks River or using the fish ladder, the restriction which dated from the 1950s regarding fishing from the weir was eliminated. Another restriction which had prohibited fishing from the fish ladder was also eliminated; that restriction, however, was superfluous, inasmuch as a state regulation already prohibited fishing within 300 feet of the ladder. 
State officials instituted other measures during the period to protect Katmai's rainbow fishery. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the state created the so-called "Bristol Bay Trophy Fish Area," and new regulations were instituted in an attempt to preserve the fish stocks. Beginning in 1970, the Bay of Islands was included in the trophy fish area. Fishermen visiting the Bay of Islands were slapped with a bag limit of just one rainbow, 20 inches or longer, per day. They were also required to use single hooks rather than treble hooks, and an unintended consequence of the new regulation was an increasing number of dead trophy fish.  Officials worried that another result of the trophy fish area's creation would be that Brooks River would be subjected to additional fishing pressure. In May 1974, therefore, the State Fisheries Board closed Brooks River to fishing from May 20 to June 10 to protect spawning rainbow trout. By 1976, Brooks River's closure dates had changed; the new dates were from April 10 to June 7 instead of from May 20 to June 10. 
Before 1950, the Fish and Wildlife Service--specifically, the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (BCF) within the Service--had been the only government agency with an active management presence in Katmai National Monument. The establishment of the NPS facility and concessions camps in the summer of 1950 brought about a temporary jurisdictional conflict, as has been noted above. By 1951, however, the agency heads had smoothed over their disagreements. Through it all, the Fish and Wildlife Service continued its job of counting and studying the Brooks River salmon run.
For the remainder of the 1950s, the agency vacillated from year to year in the interest it showed toward Bristol Bay research efforts. Funding during some years allowed tagging programs, foot and photograph surveys, and similar research efforts. But during other years, the F&WS decided to focus its Alaskan research efforts away from Bristol Bay. The Brooks River weir counts continued, but most other Western Alaskan investigations were placed on hold. Regardless of funding levels, the agency continued to staff the Brooks Lake laboratory and maintain the adjacent weir. 
In April 1941, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had obtained a permit from the NPS in order to gain legal use of monument lands. In 1959, however, the NPS suggested that a more formal procedure, in the form of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), be prepared to govern relations between the two agencies. On February 15, 1960, a ten-year MOA was signed by the directors of the F&WS and the NPS; it remained in force until March 7, 1970. Two days after the MOA expired, the regional directors of the two agencies signed a ten-year extension to the agreement. 
In 1961, commercial fisheries research in the monument underwent a major change when the BCF decided to expand its fisheries research from the Brooks Lake-Brooks River area to the entire Naknek drainage system. The Brooks Lake building became a coordinating center, and to provide for its expansion, new housing was needed. The BCF constructed two four-room log cottages just south of the Brooks Lake laboratory. 
By 1962, studies were being conducted at remote sites within the monument, and to support those studies, the agency built several remote cabins in the monument. By 1965, the agency had built one at the east end of Lake Coville, just west of Grosvenor Camp, and it has occupied another cabin located two miles above the mouth of American Creek.  A third BCF cabin, located at the southeastern end of Lake Grosvenor, was built in the late 1960s. In 1969, it was described as a plywood one-room tent frame type cabin with two adjacent storage sheds which was being used for anadromous fish research. All three temporary camps were still active in 1971. The BCF, during the 1960s and early 70s, also had fish weirs and counting fences on Hardscrabble Creek, Hidden Creek, West Creek, and at the outlet of lower Kaflia Bay. Therefore, the agency probably erected shelters of some sort at those locations as well. Each of these had probably been abandoned by 1971.  Meanwhile, the salmon counting activities along the Brooks River, which had been the mainstay of the BCF's work for more than 25 years, were discontinued after the 1967 season. 
During the same period in which the BCF decided to expand its operations, the philosophy of its research also changed. In addition to counts, the agency's studies became on-the-ground projects that began to affect Katmai's resources. From 1960 to 1965, fisheries scientists completely blocked a Brooks Lake tributary, West Creek, just to see if salmon heading for it would spawn elsewhere. Other experiments involved chemical trickery to influence Hidden Creek salmon to spawn in West Creek rather than their natural spawning grounds. These experiments resulted in the loss of at least one genetic stock of salmon in Brooks Lake tributaries. 
In 1970, the Fish and Wildlife Service split into two parts: the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The work at Katmai, which had been administered by the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, was transferred to the NMFS. The new agency continued the work of the old. In 1973, the NMFS conducted the second year of a Naknek Lake salmon incubator project and also conducted limnological and biological sampling of the lake system. The following winter, however, the incubators froze and the project was abandoned. The NMFS did not staff the Brooks Lake fisheries station in 1974 or thereafter. 
In 1976, the issue of manipulative fishery research, which had first surfaced during BCF studies conducted from 1960 through 1965, came to a head when the NMFS proposed large scale artificial salmon reproduction in Katmai National Monument. Specific sites for the salmon enhancement program were to be Idavain Creek and the streams which emptied into Brooks Lake. Alerted to the proposal by Katmai Superintendent Blinn, Acting Area Director Robert Peterson advised the National Marine Fisheries Service to abandon plans for manipulative fishery research in national parks in Alaska. 
With the exception of that proposal, NMFS ignored the monument during the mid-1970s. In 1976, the agency began allowing NPS personnel to use the Brooks Lake cabins. The following spring, it decided to transfer its facilities to the Park Service. In 1979 the NPS, under the direction of interim superintendent Roy Sanborn, rehabilitated the two Brooks Lake cottages and the Brooks Lake fisheries laboratory which was converted into a residence. That summer, and each summer since, the buildings have been used by NPS personnel. 
The various remote NMFS structures have not fared as well. The primitive cabin at the east end of Lake Coville remained active as part of a salmon fisheries research project until 1972. By the following year, however, it was "not fit for habitation without minimal repairs" and was abandoned. In 1985, NPS rangers lived in the cabin, which by now was dilapidated. The cabin was torn down the following year. Along American Creek, the former BCF cabin remained active from 1963 through 1970 but was afterward abandoned. The cabin at the southeast end of Lake Grosvenor was also used for only a short time. It was abandoned in the early to mid-1970s. 
A continuing sore point that marred relations between the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service throughout the 1950s and 1960s was the Brooks Falls fish ladder. As noted above, the F&WS had built the ladder from 1948 through 1950 with the silent acquiescence of the NPS, though without its permission. The NPS protested its construction in 1950, but by that time, the ladder was already complete.
The fish ladder remained controversial throughout the 1950s; the NPS wanted to get rid of it, while the F&WS defended it. As part of the NPS-sponsored Katmai Project, an official with the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that the ladder be removed. Perhaps in response to that recommendation, F&WS fishery engineer George Eicher wrote an analysis on how the ladder had affected the river's fish runs. The analysis showed the red salmon population before the ladder's construction was larger than it had been afterwards. It was quick to point out, however, that external factors, not the ladder, caused the reduction.  In the mid-1960s, the NPS formalized its principles of aquatic management for natural and historical areas. This led to an immediate push to do something about the Brooks River fish ladder. The F&WS fought the prospect. In the end, attuned to a sensitive political climate engendered by low Bristol Bay fish runs in the early 1960s, on-scene Park Service officials recommended coming back to the fish ladder issue later. 
Park Service field personnel continued to raise the issue, noting in 1970 that when the ladder was open it greatly reduced the number of salmon that could be seen trying to leap the falls.  In the early 1970s, they blocked the ladder's upstream exit with wood planks (ineffectively, as noted below). It has remained blocked ever since.
Although most of the Fish and Wildlife's facilities in Katmai were established on the Bristol Bay side of the monument, the bureau was also concerned with the Shelikof Strait fishery. Prior to statehood, it claimed jurisdiction of all areas below the mean high tide line. (It also, as noted above, claimed jurisdiction over commercial fish throughout the monument.) It carried out occasional patrols in the strait during the 1950s. In addition, the F&WS made scattered attempts to monitor the fisheries resources on the monument's eastern shore. The bureau, operating from its Kodiak office, had been making occasional studies of salmon spawning areas in the monument since the 1920s. Before 1950, as has been noted, the agency had established watchman's cabins on Kaflia Bay. Then, in the summer of 1953, the agency stationed a salmon-stream guard in a tent about one mile south of the Kaguyak Village site. Both improvements were probably erected in conjunction with a nearby fish trap.  The agency, during the 1950s, may also have been active on other portions of the coastline.
After statehood, much of the fisheries management along the Shelikof Strait was transferred to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The ADF&G sought out a site from which it could manage, survey, and patrol the salmon fisheries along the monument's eastern coastline, and in March 1962 it obtained a ten year Special Use Permit from the NPS for a site on Kashvik Bay, up to three acres in extent, in which to erect one or more field structures. By June, the ADF&G had decided to erect a weir, cabin, and storage shed at the site. In support of its activities, the state also received permission to erect a small fueling station, which was constructed at Amalik Bay. 
The federal government, through its long-term efforts at the Brooks Lake laboratory, had amassed a wealth of data on the Brooks River and Naknek Lake salmon resource. Beyond that, however, there had been little attention paid to Katmai's sport fish populations in the two decades which followed John Greenbank's 1954 survey work. During the mid-1970s, both state and NPS officials decided that more research into Katmai's sport fishing populations was sorely needed. What followed was a 15- to 20-year-long research effort which included five rainbow trout studies, two sockeye salmon studies, two studies which analyzed the effectiveness of the fish ladder, and a bibliographic study which compiled the many research efforts which had been made to date.
Since statehood in 1959, state fishery managers in the Naknek drainage had emphasized the large king salmon and rainbow trout sport fisheries of the Naknek River and Bay of Islands area of Naknek Lake. Only periodic, short, fishery assessment trips were made by state biologists to Brooks Camp and the Brooks River. Little or no information was available on the health of rainbow trout populations in Brooks Lake, its tributaries including Headwaters Creek, and other areas used by sport anglers such as American Creek and Idavain Creek. To provide that information, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game commenced a spawning survey of the Brooks River rainbow trout population. That survey began about 1975 and continued until 1978. 
The NPS, during the same period, also attempted to gain information on the Brooks River rainbow trout population. NPS officials, of course, were vitally concerned with gaining data on Brooks River trout populations, and wanted to augment the ADF&G data. Rangers, therefore, conducted summer creel censuses along the river during the 1975, 1976, and 1977 seasons. The data they collected, however, were not systematic nor of sufficiently long duration to be fully definitive. 
In 1977-78, the NPS funded preparation of an information synthesis of all fishery and aquatic research information available for the Naknek River drainage. The Arctic Environmental Information and Data Center, part of the University of Alaska, compiled a 244-page report with an extensive bibliography. This report later proved valuable as an information source for resource managers and research personnel for all that was known about Katmai's fish populations and aquatic habitat. 
In the early 1980s, NPS management began to worry about the decreasing size and number of trophy rainbows, both at American Creek and in Naknek Lake. In order to provide a more complete database than NPS rangers and state biologists had been able to collect during 1975-77, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in 1983 and 1984, conducted a study (with funding from the NPS) on the possible overharvest of Katmai's rainbow trout.  To document rainbow trout harvests and categorize sport fishermen types, ADF&G personnel conducted intensive, long-term creel censuses and solicited mailed questionnaires from fishermen on the Brooks River, Naknek River, and the Bay of Islands portion of Naknek Lake. Detailed information was developed on the number of rainbows kept versus those caught in each significant fishery. Fish population statistics such as length, weight, sex, and age were developed for the Naknek and Brooks rivers, American Creek, and Idavain Creek; in addition, spawning ground surveys were conducted on the Naknek and Brooks rivers, Idavain Creek, and Headwaters Creek.
From 1981 to 1985, the ADF&G also conducted a somewhat smaller but related rainbow trout study in the Naknek River drainage. So-called "Floy" tagging was conducted on eight of the drainage's streams and lakes. (Floy tags are visible plastic tags, manufactured by the Floy company, which show where and when the tags have been attached to the fish; they also provide other information.)
The two studies concluded that current sport fishing levels had no significant adverse affect on the size, age composition, or numbers of available rainbow trout in the Naknek River drainage. Spawning ground surveys indicated sufficient numbers of spawners to perpetuate populations and to provide quality sport fishing to anglers using the drainage. Five specific regulatory proposals or options were identified in the event sport fishing effort increased or management philosophies changed. None of the proposals, however, were implemented over the short term. Lou Gwartney, the state fishery biologist leading both studies, believed that with the large and growing philosophy of catch and release throughout Katmai, there seemed little cause for worry about the health of the park's rainbow trout fishery. 
The fifth significant rainbow trout study at Katmai was a radio-tracking effort funded by the NPS and jointly conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. In 1984, 46 spawning and post-spawning rainbow trout were tagged with radio transmitters; 25 were in the Naknek River, and the remaining 21 were in the Brooks River drainage. Some of the latter were tagged above and some below Brooks Falls. The study revealed fascinating details about the summer and winter range of Naknek and Brooks River rainbows, the timing and speed of their migrations, and the degree to which overlap occurs in the life history and habitat use requirements of both populations. The Bay of Islands area of Naknek Lake was highlighted as the principal summer range of adult Naknek River rainbows. The summer range of adult Brooks River rainbows was found to include Brooks River, Brooks Lake, and, to a limited degree, Naknek Lake. In the latter instance, some intermingling occurred during summer between a few Naknek and Brooks River fish. The study suggested, however, that Brooks River and Naknek River rainbows were really two separate populations of locally-adapted fish that do not share habitat to any significant degree. Naknek rainbows appeared to conduct far more extensive migrations than did Brooks River rainbows. 
Another scientific study focused on the genetics of sockeye salmon within the Naknek River drainage in Katmai. The NPS funded the study, and Fish and Wildlife Service personnel conducted the research. They performed genetic analyses on fish tissue samples taken from sockeye salmon spawning in five tributaries to Brooks Lake; four tributaries to Naknek Lake; and in Brooks River, both above and below the falls. The analyses showed that the five stocks spawning in Brooks Lake tributaries are genetically distinct from one another. They are also, as a whole, genetically different from the somewhat homogenous group that comprises the Brooks River and Naknek Lake tributary fish. The results also suggested that, despite the fish ladder at Brooks Falls, there was little or no interbreeding between sockeye salmon stocks originating from below the falls and sockeye salmon stocks from Brooks Lake tributaries. Sockeye salmon that spawn in the upper and lower Brooks River were not found to be genetically different. Investigators felt that this could be either because the fish ladder allowed interbreeding between formerly distinct stocks or because Brooks Falls was never enough of a barrier to preclude free exchange of sockeye salmon destined to spawn within Brooks River. 
In 1985, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with NPS funding, studied the effectiveness of the fish ladder. (A related, very preliminary analysis had been written by George Eicher almost thirty years earlier.) The 1985 study concluded that although sockeye salmon would use the ladder, they did not need it to ascend the falls. Fish and Wildlife Service investigators felt that coho and pink salmon might benefit slightly from the ladder; numerically, however, they were an insignificant portion of the Brooks River fish runs. Their principal conclusion was that the ladder was not necessary for salmonid fish passage. 
A year later, National Marine Fisheries Service biologists who had worked for years at the Brooks Lake research station were also asked to characterize the effectiveness of the fish ladder. They concluded that 1) there is no compelling evidence that the ladder has had a significant impact on any fish populations upstream or downstream of the falls since it was installed in 1949-50,  2) removal or renovation of the fish ladder would be unlikely to have any significant impact one way or another on fish passage or production of sockeye salmon from the Brooks system,  and 3) the argument suggesting the ladder may have increased adult coho salmon access to the area upstream from the falls is even weaker than any evidence that the ladder has increased sockeye salmon escapements above the falls.  The fish ladder, in other words, had little or no effect on the spawning success of Brooks River salmon.
The 1985 Fish and Wildlife Service study did more than just analyze salmon spawning runs with and without the fish ladder. It also suggested five management options, ranging from doing nothing to totally removing the ladder. The recommended option called for drying up the ladder for an interim period during which further studies could be accomplished prior to possible restoration of the site.  The NPS adopted this recommendation, but in so doing it ran into a furor of opposition. Commercial fishermen, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Bristol Bay Borough, and the Alaska Congressional Delegation all protested, and both the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska Senate passed non-binding resolutions against the Park Service's position. In response to the outcry, U.S. Senator Ted Stevens included language in the NPS's 1987 supplemental appropriations bill which directed that no effort be made to remove, obstruct, dewater, fill or otherwise damage the Brooks River fish ladder. This thwarted implementation of the NPS's policy of restoring park features and ecosystems to their natural state. Ironically, the protestors prevailed despite scientific conclusions by professional biologists from the NMFS, the NPS and the F&WS that the fish ladder did little or nothing to enhance fish populations.
No major administrative actions have taken place regarding the fish ladder since 1987. The upper end of the ladder is still blocked by wood bracing, as it has been since 1973. Even so, some water passes through the ladder, and intermittent fish passage occurs. An increasing amount of erosion has been taking place on the south bank, just south of the fish ladder. The placement of sand bags has thus far kept erosion to a minimum. That solution, however, will ultimately prove to be only temporary. 
In 1991, the NPS funded a study of the effects of jet-driven boat turbulence on sockeye and other salmonid reproduction in Alaska streams. Much of the field work planned for the study occurred on American Creek in Katmai. The study was conducted by the Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The study, completed in 1994, found that jet driven boats can indeed kill salmonid embryos in redds. Water pressure was not found to be the culprit; instead, mortality occurs when river substrate (gravel) is moved by the direct discharge from a jet unit. The authors found that limiting jet boat activity may be warranted in small streams where the potential for substrate disturbance is high. Any such restrictions, however, should be made on a case-by-case basis. 
In 1985, restrictions on sport fishing methods tightened further within the Bristol Bay region. The State Board of Fisheries, upon recommendation of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, closed all Katmai streams to fishing from April 10 to June 7. (As noted above, this prohibition had been effect on the Brooks River since 1976.) From November 1 through April 9, the ADF&G allowed bait on all streams; the NPS, however, overrode this regulation and demanded that only artificial lures be allowed. From June 8 through October 31, tackle was limited to unbaited, single-hook lures in all streams and within a one-half mile radius of stream mouths. Fish eggs were banned as bait year-round above the old (1969) Katmai National Monument boundary along the Naknek River. This ruling negated the prior, state-imposed regulation, instituted in 1977, regarding the subsistence taking of whitefish, via bait in the Naknek River, between mid-November and the end of March.
Along the Brooks River, the state and NPS imposed further restrictions. From June 8 to October 31, the state ruled that only single-hook, artificial flies could be used. Bag limits were also lowered. From June 8 to October 1, the daily bag limit on rainbow trout was lowered from five to two; only one of the bagged fish was allowed to be 20 inches or more in length. From November 1 through June 7, the limit remained five rainbows, but only one of them could be 20 inches or more in length. A further regulation, instituted by the NPS, demanded that anglers take their catch immediately to the fish-cleaning station and not leave it in the grass as had previously been done. 
By the early 1980s, it was clear to NPS staff that the July salmon run created many conflicts between bears and fishermen. Barrie K. Gilbert, a scientist studying Katmai's bears (see Chapter 9), also recognized the obvious conflict. In 1985, therefore, he recommended that the fishing regulations be tightened to lower bag limits. He also proposed that fishermen be required to keep the first two salmon caught. 
In 1987, the Alaska Board of Fisheries approved a regulation stating that only unbaited artificial lures could be used in the entire Naknek River drainage between March 1 and November 14. The NPS, that year, also submitted a proposal to reduce the bag limit to two salmon and one trout throughout the park and preserve. The Fisheries Board rejected that proposal, which was consistent with what Gilbert had recommended. It based its decision, in part, on an Alaska Department of Fish and Game determination that the fishery was healthy. The board also concluded that other management considerations, namely the safety of large numbers of people sport fishing in close proximity to feeding bears at several stream sites in Katmai, were not within its purview. The board also expressed concern about the large area covered by the proposal and some confusion about the proposal's objectives. The Department of Fish and Game, however, recognized at the board meeting that the NPS had authority to promulgate its own regulations to address the problem. 
Given that dictum, Katmai Superintendent Bane instituted a temporary regulation, beginning in June 1988, which established a daily limit of one fish, of any species, along the Brooks River. Bane did so in order to reduce the incidence of bears acquiring fish from visitors. He found that public response to the restriction was "overwhelmingly supportive," and felt that the regulation was successful in reducing bear-human conflicts. The NPS regulation became permanent in May 1989. In 1990, the Alaska Board of Fisheries further restricted harvests in the area by designating catch and release for rainbow trout, both on the Brooks River and within a one-quarter mile radius into Naknek Lake, from June 8 through October 31. 
Few local residents were known to have fished in the monument, either for sports or subsistence purposes, before 1960. Edwin W. Seiler, however, was an exception. Seiler, who arrived in the area in the late 1940s, was the proprietor of Air Martel, King Salmon's first business establishment. A pilot, Seiler enjoyed fishing the various lakes in and around the monument, and in early 1952 he asked NPS officials for a permit to land aircraft within Katmai National Monument for ice fishing. Seiler justified his request for such a permit by saying that the military had "cleaned out" fish stocks in the immediate area. The NPS, however, denied Seiler's request. Regulations forbade the wintertime landing of aircraft within Katmai, except for the Service's administrative activities and necessary activities of the concessioner. 
During the early 1950s, the NPS was asked to address the issue of subsistence fishing by Natives of the Katmai area. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, in early 1952, requested that Natives be exempted from fishing regulations. After an exchange of telegrams and letters between the Superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park and officials at the Service's regional and national offices, the agency decided to exempt Natives from the Katmai fishing regulations after August 20 of each year. (This date was probably suggested because of the annual activities, noted in Chapter 6, that took place at the mouth of the Brooks River during this period.) Rainbow trout were excluded from the exemption.  These and other provisions for Katmai fishing were published in the May 28, 1952 Federal Register.
Another subsistence fishing issue arose in 1953 when the NPS received a request for experimental use of a "King Salmon" net in Naknek Lake. Citing practice in Norway as a precedent, Naknek resident Gunnar Berggren asked for a permit to place the net at 30 fathoms in Naknek Lake to see if there were fish at that depth. Katmai ranger George Peters denied Berggren's request, noting that such activity could be authorized only for scientific purposes. 
During the spring of 1965, the possibility of opening Naknek Lake to commercial fishing arose as an issue. Local residents, anxious to develop a new fishery, contacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Alaska Congressman Ralph J. Rivers; these two parties, in turn, wrote the NPS about the legality of such a practice. Park Service replies, however, were prompt and discouraging. NPS management authorities prohibited fishing for profit in park and monument waters. The NPS noted that an additional reason for denying the commercial fishery was the protection of the sport fishery. Superintendent Oscar Dick noted that
In 1976, proposals relating to both subsistence and commercial fishing on Naknek Lake surfaced at a meeting of NPS and Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) officials. The BBNC delegations first asked about the legality of harvesting the lake's whitefish by net. Katmai Superintendent Gil Blinn said that such a practice would be permitted. The Native delegation then asked what the chances were of having a fish hatchery on the lake. Ralph Root, the "keyman" assigned to Katmai, indicated that "it would be a more difficult problem there because the entire lake is already under National Park Service jurisdiction." 
The Native subsistence regulations, implemented in 1952, remained unchanged for the next twenty years, and it was under these regulations that Natives carried on their late-season fishery near the mouth of Brooks River. In 1972, however, the state softened its regulations and allowed Native subsistence fishing throughout the monument on a year-round basis. 
In June 1975 local citizens, acting through the Bristol Bay Borough, moved to further broaden access to the fishery when a resolution was passed which requested the National Park Service to allow the use of salmon eggs in Naknek Lake and River. Locals wanted to increase their subsistence fish take in the monument, specifically of whitefish, and passed the resolution because they had been constrained by the NPS regulation which had limited monument fishing to those using artificial lures.
The NPS tried to accommodate local concerns, and prepared a draft environmental assessment which laid out several alternatives. The favored alternative was one which allowed wintertime bait fishing, using salmon eggs as bait, along Naknek River from November 15 through April 9. The NPS held three public meetings on the subject in local communities in November 1975. As a result of those meetings, the favored alternative was revised to allow bait fishing along the river from November 15 through March 31. (Both local residents and the NPS did not want to endanger the Naknek River's rainbow fishery, and local residents were willing to shorten the open fishing period in order to minimize the size of the rainbow trout catch.) The Environmental Assessment was approved on January 13, 1976. 
After receiving the NPS report, the State Board of Fisheries slightly modified its recommendations. When the regulation was implemented in 1977, it allowed wintertime bait fishing on the Naknek River from November 15 through March 31 of each year. The extent of that fishing, however, was only "from markers located just above Trefon's Cabin downstream to the Monument boundary."  That regulation remained until 1983. By that time, the regulation had little meaning. During the winter of 1981-82, the Alaska Board of Fisheries had passed a subsistence regulation which allowed sockeye salmon fishing "along a 100 yard length of the west shore of Naknek Lake near the outlet to the Naknek River as marked by ADF&G markers" from October 1 through December 31 (see Chapter 12).
Along Katmai's Shelikof Strait coastline lie a number of productive clam beds. High quality clam habitat stretches from Hallo Bay to Cape Douglas and in Kashvik Bay, at the south end of the present-day park. Clamming production began, predictably, in southeastern Alaska; then, in 1916, the Cordova area witnessed the territory's first large-scale clam cannery. The more remote Katmai clam beds became known soon afterwards, less than five years after Katmai was designated as a national monument. 
Clamming commenced on the Shelikof Strait coast in 1923 when Hemrich Packing Company, Inc. began operations. The company's cannery was located at Kukak Bay, but the clamming beds, as noted in a company brochure, were at "Swickshak Beach."  In 1924, as noted earlier in the chapter, the cannery began processing salmon as well, and either Hemrich or one of its lessees operated the combination clam and salmon cannery until 1932. No commercial clamming took place along the coastline during 1933 and 1934. Surf Canneries then purchased Hemrich's facilities and operated them through the 1936 season. By 1936, Kukak Bay had a clam and salmon cannery appraised at $89,000, while Swikshak Bay had "fishing cabins, docks, and other improvements" valued at $2,000. 
During the mid-1920s, most or all of the clam digging took place at Swikshak Bay. As time wore on, however, workers discovered that high quality clam habitat stretched from Kukak Bay to Cape Douglas. By 1931, Kashvik Bay was being harvested as well. Hemrich and its lessees were the sole users of the mainland beaches during the 1923-1932 period. When the facilities at Kukak and Swikshak bays closed down, however, a Kodiak Island packer moved in. 
The clamming facilities, and most of the clam beds, were located outside the original (1918) boundaries of the monument. When Katmai's boundaries were expanded in April 1931, both the canneries and the clamming beaches were absorbed into the monument. Because of an oversight, the language of the 1931 proclamation did not specifically address the rights of existing users. It was not until the mid-1930s that clamming interests discovered the error; a June 1936 presidential proclamation was issued that recognized the rights of all those who had used the land prior to the boundary expansion. (See Chapter 3.) Surf's management intended to follow up on the proclamation by obtaining a patent to its lands. The company's operations, however, were shut down in September 1936 when a fire swept through and destroyed the Swikshak Bay cannery. The company made no further attempts to patent its properties, and appears to have abandoned its interests at both Kukak and Swikshak soon afterwards. By 1941, fire had destroyed the Kukak Bay cannery as well, and both the wharf and pilings were found to be "in a bad state of repair." 
In 1944, the firm of Kester and Kline of Kodiak operated a clam cannery in Swikshak Bay. The cannery was allowed to operate to supply the U.S. Army. The NPS permitted the operation as a part of its wartime program. The company reapplied for a permit in late 1945. The agency, in response, temporarily held the view that with the war ended, there was no reason to continue using federal lands for military supply purposes.  The agency later gave the company a one-year permit to operate its Swikshak Bay cannery; no permit was offered, however, for clam harvesting. 
By March 1946, Kester and Kline had changed its name to the Cape Douglas Canning Corporation (CDCC). The company was assured that they could operate without a permit so long as they stayed below the high tide line; given that assurance, they harvested clams that summer.  Late in 1946, CDCC applied for a clam harvesting permit. The company got bogged down in a bureaucratic runaround between the BLM, the NPS, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, and the Division of Territories and Island Possessions. The Assistant Secretary, trying to steer a middle course, urged the NPS to issue the permit. Recognizing that the territorial delegate and territorial officials were becoming increasingly restive at the absence of a Katmai development program, he advised NPS officials that the issuance of the permit might placate those officials:
Soon afterwards, the service issued Cape Douglas Canning Corporation a permit to operate a cannery in Katmai National Monument from February 1, 1947 to February 1, 1952. The corporation operated a clam and salmon cannery that summer. 
The issuance of Cape Douglas's permit brought up a murky legal point. The legislation which had established Katmai in 1918, and expanded it in 1931 and 1942, specifically noted that the monument's boundary was the high tide line. Cape Douglas, however, had proposed in its permit to erect a temporary building at the end of a sand spit, the pilings of which would extend below the high tide line. The legal difficulty was presented to the Interior Department's Solicitor, Mastin G. White, for his judgment. On January 10, 1947, White ruled that "the National Park Service may grant a revocable permit for this clam canning operation ... with the right of access to navigable water over intermediate tidelands..." 
After the first season's operation under the permit (1947), the corporation asked for permission to relocate its clam cannery from Swikshak Bay to Kukak Bay. Permission was granted. The company, which became Mainland Fisheries in April 1948, added a salmon canning facility and operated at Kukak Bay for the next four years.  Later that year, Mainland requested a permit to operate for ten years at Swikshak Bay.  The Department of the Interior responded to Mainland's request, in January 1949, by providing the company a five year permit good until January 1954. Later, Mainland received an extension to its permit, and the company was allowed to use 2.7 acres on the east bank of Swikshak Lagoon from October 6, 1950 to January 1, 1961. 
At Swikshak Bay, Mainland Fisheries built a 40-foot by 40-foot Quonset hut for a cannery building, placing it on piles on the site of the old Surf Cannery which had been destroyed in the 1936 fire. Mainland also built a 40-foot by 110-foot dock adjacent to the cannery and a 30-foot by 100-foot platform to the rear. A mess hall, store-supply building, and bunkhouses not destroyed in the fire were rehabilitated. [ 132]
In January 1950 the Whiz Cannery Corporation asked if it could put clammers' cabins on the shore of Swikshak Bay. Mainland Fisheries, which already had a permit to use the bay, objected. The NPS held up the Whiz permit due to the Mainland Fisheries' objection. Thus, in early 1951, Whiz sought Congressional help by writing to Alaska's Delegate to Congress, E. L. Bartlett. The agency replied that despite Mainland Fisheries' objection, the existing permit did not provide for exclusive use. In March 1951, Whiz Halferty Canneries was given a five-year permit to put up clam diggers' cabins on a five acre parcel at Swikshak Bay. The permit was valid until February 28, 1956. 
During the early 1950s, clam digging took place at Kaguyak Bay, probably in conjunction with Mainland Fisheries' Kukak Bay operation. Lowell Sumner, a biologist from NPS's Region Four office, noted that "the clam diggers sail their fleet of skiffs in here" each summer. The six shacks they occupied comprised the "village" of Kaguyak. Kaguyak, at that time, still boasted a Russian Orthodox church which dated from the pre-1912 era. By 1952, however, little was left of the 20 remaining barabaras. By 1965, the church had apparently been burned by clam diggers who were living in it. 
Mainland Fisheries, in 1951, went into receivership and ceased operations. Whiz Halferty remained inactive as well. In June 1954, however, an official of the latter company, now known as Halferty Canneries, wrote the NPS and requested that Mainland's twenty acres of Kukak Bay cannery buildings be added to Halferty's permit. Assured by company officials that the plant was planning to operate again, the BLM gave it a permit to use the facilities improvements at Swikshak Lagoon, Swikshak Bay, and Kukak Bay. The permit was valid from February 1956 until February 1961.  Little is known about the extent of clam harvesting operations during this period.
On October 15, 1959, Halferty Canneries transferred its clam-harvesting interests to the Alaska Packers Association (APA). In December 1960, the new company requested a new five year special use permit. Neither the BLM nor the NPS had any objection to the arrangement, so the BLM, in May 1961, gave the APA a permit which ran until December 1965. APA cited four frame buildings in Swikshak Lagoon as its headquarters. 
The APA was an active clam harvester. During the summer of 1961, the company deployed 76 men to Katmai's beaches and yielded 410,117 pounds of razor clams. The company was probably also active in the monument in 1962, but not afterwards. Where production took place during those two summers is not known. One place it probably occurred was Kashvik Bay, because a contemporary map identifies an Alaska Department of Fish and Game cabin in the area. That cabin was probably used to monitor an ongoing clam harvesting operation. 
A 1963 planning report provided this overview of the Katmai coast's clam resources:
That same year, the Alaska Packers Association constructed and tested a hydraulic clam harvester at Swikshak. The test was successful, and further use of hydraulic harvesters was recommended because it promised to increase productivity and open up new areas to harvest. The hydraulic harvesters could be mounted on vessels, or they could be built on vehicles which were suitable for operation in shallow water or on land.  They would doubtless have gone into commercial production. That same year, however, concerns about poisonous shellfish led the Alaska Department of Health and Welfare to declare all beaches in Alaska suspect. The department prohibited commercial use of clams, mussels, and similar shellfish taken from Alaskan beaches. For the next seven years, commercial clamming remained technically closed in Alaska; as a result, the APA's permit was not renewed. It was not until April 27, 1970 that health officials approved Swikshak and some other Alaskan beaches for commercial clamming. 
Little remains of the facilities which were associated with the various commercial clamming operations. At Kukak Bay, portions of the old cannery on the southeast shore had burned down by 1941. In 1947, however, Alfred Kuehl's photographs show that the mess hall, bunk houses, manager's house, store, oil tank and wharf were clearly intact.  By 1953, however, an NPS report recommended that the "old cannery" be destroyed. By the time Superintendent Blinn arrived, the structures were "pretty well collapsed."  He advocated their destruction in 1973, but could not raze them until ownership could be determined. They still stood in 1985; the site that year was recommended as a tidewater ranger station.  At Swikshak Bay, 1947 photographs show that Cape Douglas's cannery complex contained one or two bunkhouses, a mess hall, and a wharf. As indicated by the APA's application to the BLM, four buildings were still intact in early 1961. By April 1972, however, Katmai personnel deemed them hazardous and unsightly, and they destroyed them all. 
Katmai's clam industry roared back to life soon after health officials deemed the beaches as healthy again. A major factor contributing to the activity level was that the Swikshak area was one of only three beaches in the state that had been cleared for clam harvesting.  By 1971, approximately 200,000 pounds of razor clams were being harvested per year in the monument. The beaches, by this time, had become littered with shacks, wood stoves, debris, and discarded car bodies.
Over the next two years, Superintendent Blinn moved to clean up the area. In 1972, six special use permits were issued for commercial clam operations at Swikshak Bay. Special conditions in the permits required permittees to erect only temporary shelters at these camps. At the end of the season the permittees were required to remove all structures. [ 146] In 1973, harvesters visited both Swikshak Bay and Kamishak Bay. At the end of the 1973 season two structures remained standing at Kamishak. The first was a cabin used by Alaska Department of Fish and Game personnel who monitored the clamming operations and the second was that of a tardy clammer.  In order to clean up the accumulated refuse, Blinn paid one of the clam diggers $10,000 to barge the materials back to Kodiak Island. 
Clamming permits issued in the following years contained a proviso prohibiting the construction of beach cabins; harvesters were required to live on a houseboat or barge. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, meanwhile, requested permission to build a permanent structure for its research and monitoring operations at Swikshak.  Clamming operations during that period were restricted to Swikshak Bay. 
By 1977, the monument issued only one permit for clamming operations, to Daniel Konigsberg. The state remained active that year; it held a permit, valid until 1979, which allowed it to maintain a cabin at Swikshak for purposes of razor clam research.  From 1978 to 1981, the only clamming permit was issued to Jesus Briones, of Kodiak, who harvested at Swikshak Bay. Briones and Bruce Swanson, who applied for a joint permit in 1982, were the last permittees.  In 1985, an illegal clam operation took place at Hallo Bay. The operators were cited, and they left soon afterwards. 
Last Updated: 24-Sep-2000