Kenai River Women's Classic raises awareness and funds for River Conservation

“Mother Nature shines on ladies who love to fish!” says Kristin Mellinger Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) Kenai River Women’s Classic Chair. The Women’s Classic has become one of Alaska’s most popular women-only networking events with 78 of the state’s top female business leaders and officials enjoying sunny Autumn weather and excellent silver salmon fishing at the 6th Annual fundraising event September 12th -14th. Proceeds from participant fees, sponsorships and a live and silent auction go to KRSA’s fishery conservation programs and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Camp $tartup Scholarship Program. The Chamber’s Athena Society provides scholarship funding for young Alaskan women who aspire to own their own companies someday to attend an entrepreneurial skills camp each summer.

“We set a record for fundraising at the auction this year with over $50,000 raised,” said Mellinger. “While we didn’t beat the 2009 record sliver salmon of 17.75 pounds, nearly every participant caught at least one fish, and we showed a lot of women why the Kenai River is worth their investment.”

This year’s winning silver weighed in at 14.6 pounds and was caught by Marilyn Romano of Alaska Airlines. The second place fish was captured by Renea Saade with Stoel Rives LLP at 14.3 pounds, while third place went to Cindy Bailey of BP for her 13.9 pound fish.

“I believe this is my fifth Women’s Classic I’ve participated in and I must be honest with you I come because of the fellowship with the other women. I love to be around these incredibly strong women from all over the State of Alaska and in the beginning fishing was actually secondary. Learning about the River was very important to me, but after today and the excitement of landing the winning fish I confess it has become all about the fishing and catching the biggest fish. This is the biggest fish I’ve ever caught, after living in Alaska for 21 years I have yet to catch a king salmon so this was by far the biggest fish I’ve ever caught and I limited out by 9:59am this morning. All in all it was an incredible day,” Romano told the Dispatch. Participants in the women’s fishing, networking and fundraising event enjoyed two sun-filled mornings of silver salmon fishing with professional guides. They also attended a kick-off dinner and auction at the Soldotna Sports Center that featured a three-member panel discussion on “advice from the top” for other women. Participants also had a choice of participating in a number of other activities including archery, a river tour, a cooking class, an afternoon at the spa or a visit to local breweries and distilleries. According to Mellinger the Women’s Classic continues to grow in popularity, “At the first Classic six years ago we had 32 women participate, this year we had 85 women and for next year’s Classic September 11th-13th we already have 14 women signed up for next year,” she said.

Sponsors of the 2013 Kenai River Women’s Classic include GCI, Premera Blue Cross of Alaska, MSI Communications, The Pebble Partnership, BP, Era Alaska, Alaska Communications, ConocoPhillips, Alaska Airlines and Yamaha. KTUU Meteorologist Jackie Purcell was the event emcee for the sixth year, “It’s been nice every year, even when we’ve had a little rain it has only come during the indoor activities and when we step out on the river the sun comes out so yes Mother Nature does shine on ladies who love to fish and invest in the future of this wonderful resource,” said Purcell. For more Women’s Classic results and photos go to