Neets Bay Hatchery: Neets Bay Hatchery is located at the outfall of Neets Creek at the head of Neets Bay, about 40 miles north of Ketchikan. The site is remote in that there is no road access, one must either fly or travel by boat to reach Neets Bay. Some of SSRAA’s history at Neets Bay is captured in “SSRAA’s First Ten Years” by Pat Roppel – also on the web page.
The hatchery produces summer and fall chum, fall coho and chinook salmon. All chum salmon utilized in SSRAA’s programs started at Neets with eggs collected from the broodstock returning to the site until 2018 when Burnett Inlet began collecting eggs as well. The summer chum are originally from the Carroll River in Carroll Inlet near Ketchikan while the fall fish come from Disappearance Creek in Cholmondelly Sound on Prince of Wales Island. The Neets Bay Hatchery annually produces about 110 million summer chum fry and 28 million fall chum fry. These fish are released at several remote sites as well as in Neets Bay itself: 30 million summer fry in Kendrick Bay; 8 million summer fry and 8 million fall fry in Nakat Inlet; 60 million summer fry and 20 million fall fry in Neets Bay. All the fish released at the Nakat and Kendrick and sites are intended only for common property harvest. Significant numbers of fish returning to Neets are harvested by commercial common property harvesters as they pass through traditional fisheries. The fish that make their way through those traditional fisheries back to Neets Bay are harvested by SSRAA to provide most of the revenue needed for SSRAA’s programs as well as serving as broodstock for continuing the programs.
Neets is also the site of what is probably the largest long-term fall coho program in SE Alaska. Though in recent years, because of available water and raceway space, SSRAA has released closer to 4 million fish, the site is permitted for a release of 5 million fall coho smolt. The coho program at Neets is very much a shared program with Whitman Lake. Most fall coho eggs are collected at Whitman. Some of the coho production comes to Neets as eyed eggs from Whitman while other fish are transported to Neets as smolt after rearing at other freshwater sites for 1 year. All of the coho released at Neets Bay are reared in sea water prior to release.
This release can produce an annual return of more than 500,000 adult coho, though more often the return is between 200,000 and 300,000 adult fish. More than half of these fish are usually harvested by the troll fleet in northern outside waters in the general area of Sitka (District 113). Large numbers of fall coho are also harvested by the drift fleet as they pass through more inside waters from the north toward the southern inside location of Neets Bay. More than 15,000 fall coho from Neets have been harvested in a single season by recreational anglers in the Ketchikan area.
There is also a chinook salmon program at Neets Bay. About 500,000 (Chickamin River stock) chinook eggs are sent from Whitman Lake to Crystal Lake Hatchery each fall. These eggs/fry are incubated and reared at Crystal Lake for about 18 months. Each spring a portion of these fish, about 300,000 Chickamin River stock chinook smolts, are transported to Neets Bay from Crystal Lake Hatchery. The fish are reared in net pens at Neets for several months before release. The total return generally exceeds 80,000 adult chinook. These fish contribute to spring hatchery access troll fisheries, local sport fisheries, spring rotational net fisheries in Neets Bay, and are cleaned up during cost recovery.