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Faced with dismal king run, Kenai River guide switches to catch and release

Taking a stand

Posted: April 7, 2013 - 9:22pm  |  Updated: April 8, 2013 - 8:11am
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In this July 2012 photo, EZ Limit Guide Service owner and Soldotna resident Greg Brush, 50, poses for a photo while releasing a Kenai River king salmon. Brush, frustrated by poor king salmon runs, converted his business to catch and release only for Kenai kings. This will be his first full summer operating under the self-imposed rules. He said the choice, while a risky business move in a tradition-soaked fishery, is extremely personal and the only way he could make peace with the state of the runs.   EZ Limit Guide Service
EZ Limit Guide Service
In this July 2012 photo, EZ Limit Guide Service owner and Soldotna resident Greg Brush, 50, poses for a photo while releasing a Kenai River king salmon. Brush, frustrated by poor king salmon runs, converted his business to catch and release only for Kenai kings. This will be his first full summer operating under the self-imposed rules. He said the choice, while a risky business move in a tradition-soaked fishery, is extremely personal and the only way he could make peace with the state of the runs.

For 24 years, Greg Brush has been cementing the foundation of his life — faith, family and fish.

When he was a 27-year-old, he abandoned his union job, moving away from Northern California’s salmon and steelhead fishing in search of the famous, giant king salmon. He built his life around that decision — he met his wife, had kids, bought a house and built his business as a full time Kenai River guide.

The foundation was solid, he thought, until he looked closer this summer and noticed the cracks forming. The king salmon on the river in decline, Brush looked for a reason.

The 50-year-old Soldotna man could feel the chips falling away, solidifying a feeling that had been brewing for years. Brush had been entrenched in Kenai River issues and had participated in numerous boards and meetings. At up to 50 hours a week, it became an unpaid, full-time job and nothing changed.

If anything, it grew worse.

Much worse.

The weakest king run in recent memory shut down the sport and commercial fisheries and forced a community on the brink to look around for help. Brush looked inward. He realized that in all his years, the answer presented to solve king shortages was pointing the finger. It’s always someone else’s fault, he said.

“A bunch of words keep coming to mind,” said Brush, owner of EZ Limit Guide Service. “Hypocritical. The short-sighted mentality. This ‘me first,’ take, take, take. It’s my right. It’s my prerogative as an Alaskan.

“You know what? What if we put the resource first? What if? What if Greg stopped thinking about Greg and Greg didn’t think about EZ Limit. What if I didn’t put EZ Limit first? What if I put the Kenai king first? That’s what I’m doing and you’d be shocked at how many people can understand that once it is explained.”

Each giant king pulled over the side of his boat, gills ripped, head bonked, felt like a new blow from the sledgehammer, a direct hit to the foundation.

“Every time I do it I’m (celebrating with the client) and the little guy over here,” he said pointing to his other shoulder, “is going, ‘What the heck are you doing?’”

In the middle of last summer, Brush made his stand. No more. He wouldn’t kill any more Kenai kings if he could help it. EZ Limit Guide Service was catch-and-release from there on out.

Sitting in his Mackey Lake-area home on Wednesday, Brush explained the reasoning behind and steps he’s taking to accomplish his risky business move. He said he has spent the winter giving the same talk to prospective and returning customers so that he, his clients and guides are all on the same page at the time of booking. The rule: only those kings fatally hooked during the fight that would otherwise die will be harvested, when legal, he said. If the client agrees, they book. If not they go their separate ways.

The decision is personal, Brush said, stressing that while he has been a long-time advocate of catch-and-release, he is not pushing the ethic on other guides or the local industry. Rather he considers it a statement, that through client education about the resource he can perhaps change the mindset of king anglers to benefit the future of the fish.

“You’d be shocked at how many people — once you take the time to explain it to them — they go, ‘That makes sense,’” he said.

Others don’t get it. Several clients have called and canceled trips and Brush said his initial response was one of uncertainty.

“It is like you get punched in the gut — I just lost a $6,000 booking because of this decision,” he said. “Then you snap back to reality and remember the anguish of the previous king season. ... I feel strongly enough about this that I know it is the right thing for me to do and I have to stay the course.”

Brush contends the idea won’t fail. Clients can fill their freezers with other fish like halibut and sockeye. He also hopes to attract a certain clientele of like-minded fishermen.

“I’ve already seen tremendous support for this,” he said. “My king bookings, I honestly can say that in the first year of doing this aren’t (significantly) weaker.”

The strong educational portion of his plan centers on talking with clients prior to the charter as well as while they are in his boat and addressing what he considers misinformation about catch-and-release mortality. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, between seven and eight percent of kings die after being released.

Brush said he can reduce that percentage using single hook, no bait and proper catch-and-release methods, even down to one, or two percent.

“The anti-catch-and-release crowd immediately says, ‘OK, so it is two percent. So you land 100 kings, you put all of those back and two die. How is that right? How do you live with yourself?’” he said. “My answer is always, ‘It is not perfect and we do the best we can. I can live with two out of 100 dying because if I don’t do catch-and-release, guess what, 100 out of 100 die.’”

Perhaps the biggest battle Brush faces is that of tradition and ego among other guides, some who profess to preach catch-and-release but would rather not change.

“There’s a lot of pride,” he said. “You want to do good for your clients and you want them to catch fish and you want the other guides to know you are a good fisherman, so your ego comes into play.

“You hit the beach and the boat off to your left off-loads two kings, and the boat on the right off-loads three, and you off-load zero. At the end of the day it becomes a contest and it shouldn’t. You have to get past that ego and say, ‘You know what, I’m a good fisherman and I know my customers had a great time today.’”

He’d prefer to start treating the king fishery the way many fly fishermen treat trout and steelhead fishing, he said.

“My gosh, you watch a fly fisherman, he catches a native rainbow or a steelhead and he treats it like it is his firstborn son,” he said. “The mentality is, ‘I have got something really special here.’”

Brush said he hasn’t heard negative comments from his fellow guides, only the common saying, “Hey when they stop killing ‘em, I’ll stop killing ‘em,” referring to the area’s long-standing feud between commercial and sport fishermen.

But that’s more reason to make a stand, he said. In the face of politics and issues of conservation turning to issues of allocation, Brush said he can no longer point the finger with one hand and swing the fish bat with the other.

“I’m talking about the big picture, not talking about, ‘Well they killed X amount and we only killed Y amount,’” he said. “Let’s not even go there. Control what you can control and do your part and then somewhere you might have some merit in saying, ‘Look at what we’ve done. What are you guys going to do?’”

Brush said he isn’t sure if his idea is the answer. But, he said it feels right. And, it can’t hurt, he said.

“Is this going to make a difference in the fishery? In the run?” he said. “No. Of course it isn’t. Is it a statement? Yeah, it is.”

 

Brian Smith can be reached at brian.smith@peninsulaclarion.com.

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borninak
601
Points
borninak 04/08/13 - 08:37 am
2
1
Commendable

Kudos to Greg Brush. Now I know a fishing guide that I will refer all my vacationing family and friends to when they visit. Everyone should follow suit.

Lifer
40
Points
Lifer 04/08/13 - 09:13 am
2
1
Thanks Greg

I'm glad a commercial guide is finally stepping up. Setnetters have stopped fishing the early run and, north of the Blanchard pushed the season back to begin July 8, all to put kings in the river for the benefit of other users. Our season, which once ran from May to September, now is confined largely to the month of July during which we catch 13 percent of the late Kenai River king run while fishing sockeye.
The in-river guides now have 100 percent of the early run and 87 percent of the late run. If that isn't enough to sustain them, perhaps we need some limitations placed on the number of guides on the river.

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 04/08/13 - 09:59 am
3
1
NO TO CATCH AND RELEASE

Greg, while your efforts are commendable, they will most likely not help the depressed king salmon population.

We need to leave the Kings alone. I don't know of a single scientific paper that shows the survival rates for hooked king salmon. AK Fish & Game sometimes quotes one study. Big deal. I really wonder how many of those hooks Kings die before spawning.

Due to the mismanagement of the Kings by Alaska Fish & Game and the killing of Kings by the set netters, drifters and trawlers and the POLITICS involved; the King season should be closed to BOTH retention and catch and release.

Think about it. In 2012, Ak F&G went to catch & release in the Kenai on the Kings. Was there any law enforcement out there to make sure people were not using bait, or worse yet, using bait and retaining Kings. I didn't see any or very few enforcement personnel.

What about at night in the darkness when many of the locals are out there? Do you think there is any effective law enforcement out there on the river?

The State Parks law enforcement personnel are so under manned and inexperienced, that they are an ineffective deterrent on the Kenai River.

The Alaska Wildlife Troopers refuse to patrol the Kenai River because they go after the easy dip netter cases on the beach. Sportsmen who really care about the Kings should demand the King season be closed and demand the presence of effective law enforcement out on the busy Kenai River. No fish and game management plan will be a success without effective law enforcement.

Suss
3050
Points
Suss 04/08/13 - 10:51 am
3
0
Release A Dying King

Mortality rates for Kings from hook and release are much greater than are generally reported. How many Kings with a hook in them end up in a set net? No telling because they don't mark them down as a secondary kill. After being played on a hook a weakened King will go back down river to brackish or salt water to heal up, oftentimes flushing out into the inlet and into a welcoming set net. A King caught and released twice is always a goner. Too many years of catch and release on the early run have shown no benefit to the resource, why would the late run be any different?

kenai123
1268
Points
kenai123 04/08/13 - 11:31 pm
1
1
the big picture?

Since Mr. Brush wants to talk about "the big picture", why don't we talk about the actual "big picture"? Let's say that every angler in Alaska does what Mr. Brush is doing.
What would actually happen if all anglers released all their kings statewide? What would that do to our statewide king salmon escapement problems? Our ADF&G is currently telling us that we have a statewide king salmon escapement problem. This problem is real and exists within every river and stream flowing into the ocean. So what would happen if an angler over on the King Salmon River released all his kings, how would that help king escapement on the Kenai River? The answer is pretty simple, it would not help the Kenai River at all. So how could anglers releasing kings on the Kenai River help the king escapement on the King Salmon River? The answer is just as simple, it would not help at all. Therefore our statewide king salmon escapement problems can not be helped by anglers throwing fish back in the freshwater, fishing without hooks or any other "rain dance" type solution out there.

Eventually each and every person must face up to the science involved within this issue. Either you acknowledge the science of this statewide king problem or you can join the rain dance and hope that all your dancing will someday effect the science regarding this issue. Science and our ADF&G are telling us that we are experiencing an ocean king salmon problem and that problem is causing our kings to die at sea. Any angler out there can join Mr. Brush's Rain Dance and release every king they catch. When they are completely exhausted, they can once again return to the science and actually try to address the problem. Our ocean king problems are much more complex than freshwater restrictions can address. We could throw all freshwater kings back and would still be left with the same ocean king salmon problem. The question is do you want to address the actual problem or wear yourself out dancing in circles on the Kenai River? Dancing with freshwater angler
restrictions may appear to be easy instant solutions but this issue is not going to be resolved by flipping a switch like releasing only freshwater kings. Put together a plan to get the Pollock Industy along with our Kodiak and Cook Inlet gill set netters releasing kings and it might make a dent in the king problem but still not resolve it. This is a much larger and complex issue and addressing only local rivers and stream issues can only delay us from confronting the actual marine science involved. So what am I going to do? I am going to address the marine science and not waste my time dancing from river to river as we watch our king number decline.

robert white
378
Points
robert white 04/08/13 - 11:21 am
0
1
kings

Nice spin Greg.

kingsize
32
Points
kingsize 04/08/13 - 04:26 pm
1
4
Another Shot in the Foot,,,More of Nothing!

Alas, here we go again,,,and this from guide that has made his career on giving up concession after concession. It did not work in 2002 and it will not work in 2013. Again he is focused on the "we is the problem" concept. When is it that "we" are going to get it? It is not an in the river problem. If it was, then why is it in every river of the state? Because it is not in the rivers,,,simple. It is an in the Ocean problem. You can't count em, you can't catch em and you can't save em if they don't make it in the river in the first place. Our King Salmon are being decimated in the Salt Water. The guy above, Lifer, we got 100% of the 1st run Kings??? Wow, the sports fisherman never had 100% of anything, period. Oh, what about the Pollock fishery, or the Kodiak King fishery or South East King fishery? Yeah all these Commercial fisheries are at the table way ahead of us, and there is more than just these three. How does one single line with one single hook get 100% of anything when the miles of East Side set nets can't even get it all? Let's just take one of those fisheries, say the Southeast Alaska one, Anchorage Daily News, 04/06/2013, pg A6, middle right of the page, Juneau, "the all gear quota for pre-season Chinook Salmon for Southeast Alaska this year is 176,000 fish". Reported by KINY under provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. The ADF&G states that is 90,800 King Salmon less than in 2012. So in 2012 they took 266,800 Chinook Salmon,,,nice,,just one little bite in just one little commercial fishery, huh? Guess that was out of the river down there too huh,,,Greg. NOT! The only thing I can see by this article is that 1st, it demeans and demonizes all the other guides and sport fisherman on the Kenai River who don't get on your bandwagon. We don't grow corn or wheat, Alaskans grow and harvest fish because we eat fish, period! 2nd, the Commercial guys are jumping up and down laughing at the expense of Guides and Sports fishermen because of this article. Good Work Greg! I could say a whole lot more, but in closing let me just say, Greg if you want to go "Catch and Release" then by all means,,,great,,,enjoy. But keep your opinions to yourself please. Don't try to change "My Mindset". This isn't your fishery, it belongs to all the people of Alaska and I am betting most of them love the taste of Salmon,,,especially Kenai River King Salmon. Thanks,,,but no Thanks! PS, for all the peeps above that want to direct all their visitors to pay their hard earned money to Greg's catch and release charters,,,hope they don't like to eat wild Kenai River King Salmon. Got a feeling they are not going to get to taste to much of it. Hope it doesn't rain on them the whole trip too. lol

kenai123
1268
Points
kenai123 04/08/13 - 05:53 pm
2
3
Suddenly the clouds parted

"As we stepped off Greg's boat without even a single king, we were so dark and bummed out. Suddenly the clouds parted, the birds began to sing, we couldn't believe our ears or eyes! He handed us these wonderful little coupons for 10% off fresh set gillnet caught Cook Inlet king salmon at Kenai and Kasilof Seafood's! We all knew right then and there that everything was going to be okay after all!"

jimbob
74
Points
jimbob 04/08/13 - 06:06 pm
3
2
Kingsize Confusion

Mr. Brush has shown a high degree of integrity and guts. He at least is trying to do what he can to not harm the king fishery further. I will also refer visitors to Ez Limit guide service. There are others who deserve to have their guide licenses taken away and most likely if the last ten Kings in the world were coming into the river would be advocating taking clients out to kill the fish. Mr. Brush has not named any other guides who will publicly commit to catch and release. I thank him for his efforts. The truth is that the King is in trouble and it probably is caused mainly by factors on the high seas. This is where the fish are disappearing. There are simply too many people competing for a dwindling and stressed resource. I believe the set netters and the river guides should have a tax imposed on themselves. Revenue from the taxes perhaps with aid from the state could be used to buy out willing licensees. The goal should be to drastically reduce the numbers of set netters and river guides. While this is not ideal, the alternative will most likely be total closures and no one will be able to fish for profit. Fish and Game should up the enforcement on the river and aggressively develop more hatchery fish using the super genetics of the Kenai King before they disapear. For those who like to take pot shots a Mr. Brush from the anonymity of these postings, how about some constructive ideas on what you can do to mitigate damage to the kings?

kenai123
1268
Points
kenai123 04/08/13 - 11:28 pm
2
3
kings for everyone but anglers?

So while the commercial Pollock fishing industry is busy by-catch pillaging our kings and giving them to the poor down in Seattle, and Kodiak and Cook Inlet commercial set gill netters are doing the same but selling them to the highest bidder, according to Captain Greg, with integrity and guts, we are suppose to just release all of our kings to make the world right again? Kings for the poor, kings for the Pollock millionaires, kings for the set gill netters but no kings for us anglers, while we play catch and release? Wow that's pretty poor negotiating, and you say that you are actually still in business?
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130331/why-do-seattles-homeless-...

kenai123
1268
Points
kenai123 04/09/13 - 12:04 am
2
2
how about some constructive ideas? Jimbob?

This king by-catch issue has been kicked around for the past 30 years. During that time I have heard at least a couple hundred persons like yourselves say "so if this isn't the answer what is"? The long list of good ideas is dragged out in front of you guys, you reject them all, then we are right back here with dumb ideas replacing the good ones. There are viable solutions to our king by-catch problems, unfortunately the commercial fishing industry has to cooperate for any of them to function and that means NONE of them will function because they will not cooperate.
Are you beginning to understand? This is not about solving a problem, it is about MONEY produced when you sell a fish. The commercial fishing industry is not playing fair and each and every concession you give them, they will ask you for another and another. This is not about problem solving or integrity and guts, its about selling a fish for a dollar and the commercial fishing industry is not about to give up even one of either. Now are you beginning to understand? You cannot negotiate a settlement unless both sides want to solve the problem. In the past commercial fisherman have not even want to negotiate. Maybe when every year is like 2012 they will suddenly be in the mood.

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 04/09/13 - 12:09 am
4
1
It's Conservation Ethics Guys & Gals!

Jimbob makes some excellent points.

Unfortunately most folks here in Alaska lack any conservation ethics. Just read the thinking by Kingsize. This is the typical mentality of many folks; both guides and non-guides. "We are not the problem, someone else is. So let's keep killing the Kings".

Jimbob mentions using the super genetics of the Kenai Kings before they disapear. I am not sure there are any large fish (over 70 or 80 lbs.) remaining?

It will take drastic steps to save the Kenai Kings. For reasons I have previously stated, Catch and release is not the answer. The fishing for Kings in the Kenai River should be closed. Even this drastic action may not save the Kenai Kings. However, this action may help, along with buying out the set netters and many of the Kenai guides and restricting the high seas King bycatch.

It is a disgrace that we don't have adequate effective law enforcement to protect such a valuable resource. The attitude toward by many folks in Alaska is "screw the resource, I want my share".

jimbob
74
Points
jimbob 04/09/13 - 05:25 am
4
3
Simple as 123

I too believe the river should be closed until or if the King and silver runs ever reach normal levels. It is frustrating to see that the commercial people are killing off the stock while restrictions happen in the river. There is huge pressure from all sides to continue fishing. Millions of dollars are at stake. From residents on the Yukon drainage, to commercial high seas fisheries, to local set netters, to the several hundred guides, to the businesses and the local dip netters, NO group is saying "we have to stop" instead base human greed and financial survival is everywhere saying "we deserve to fish too". Two rivers on Kodiak are now restricted for this season. Fish and Game doesn't have the resolve to just announce up front that the King season is closed. Recall the demonstrations and pickets in Kenai last summer by the set netters? Well folks, are we any different than rhino poachers in the jungles? I surely hope so or it isn't just the Kenai King that is in trouble. There is not enough resource to go around. Mr. Brush knows this and is attempting to mitigate the damage he has done to the resource. Obviously, most other guides do not care as he does or they would join him. Severe restrictions will be coming most likely. As I said before, set netters and guides need to impose a tax on themselves and with additional money from the state buy out the licenses. The alternative is likely that no one will be fishing in a few years if we continue on our course leading to the closure of hundreds of guides and set netters alike. It is as simple as 123.

kenai123
1268
Points
kenai123 04/09/13 - 09:49 pm
3
2
It is not simple,

If the Almighty came down right now and personally handed to you the simplest grand solution you could imagine to these user conflicts, I can personally assure you that there would instantly be a case in our courts "Cook Inlet Set Netters vs. God". Do you have any understanding what that means? This is not about a solution, it is about MONEY. If you could somehow make the concept of money instantly gone, so each person could only catch a fish and either consume it for dinner or trade it for something like a loaf of bread, then the conflict would be greatly decreased. It would be decreased because in general you would not be able to accumulate massive amounts of wealth catching fish. Sure some would calculate ways to store and trade fish so they could again become greedy or wealthy killing fish but in general much of the greed would be drained away as the concept of money is removed. As soon as you attach that first dollar to that first fish, you have collapsed the resource because there is no such thing as to much fish or money. It may take a lot of time or happen tomorrow but eventually greedy commercial fishermen must destroy our salmon resource in order to acquire that last fish.

It was right before your eyes just recently as our Task Force desired to lower our king escapement into the Kenai River in order to allow set gill netters to continue fishing while our Kenai River's escapement of kings continues to reduce each year. The Board of Fish reduced this historic required minimum projected escapement of July kings from 30,000 kings to between 30,000 - 15,000 kings. What will the escapement minimum become WHEN set nets are closed down because the ADF&G cannot even project 15,000 Kenai Kings in July? You know the minimum will be again reduced to something below 15,000 and on and on. Eventually they will get the minimum escapement down to hundreds of kings as the Endangered Species Act comes into play and we achieve total king resource collapse from these set gillnet searching for that last fish. Set gill netters catch a fish, sell it, take a part of the profit and create laws, regulations and litigation to allow them to take two fish. The laws and cases build and the dead fish pile up until all either can do is collapse. The last time this happened was 1959 with the commercial fish traps, total resource destruction. We rebuilt the fishery from 1960 - 1990 and it has been declining since as we approach the next salmon resource collapse. An interesting system isn't it? Commercial fishermen can see the collapse coming but they just continue fishing as the numbers descend and they stare on, locked in the grip of the cycle of greed. The cycle of greed goes on and on constantly grinding away at our fisheries as we move closer and closer to the inevitable salmon collapse.

KenaiKardinal88
381
Points
KenaiKardinal88 04/09/13 - 03:32 pm
3
2
Commercial Fishers Destroying the "Shared" Resource

Let the setnetters and drifters stop fishing - by the way they have destroyed the upper Cook Inlet fisheries.

Too many Comm fishers in Alaska don't even live here year round. They take, take, take, and leave nothing but trash.

Kapco
148
Points
Kapco 04/09/13 - 10:09 pm
1
1
Unselective gill net fishing is the demise of species...

You can spin this all you want, any way you want. The bottom line is history tells us, if we are willing to take an honest look at it, that non selective methods of commercial harvest has put untold numbers of unintended species at risk. One example is the sturgeon of the Columbia river--these slow growing fish have been bycaught to near non-existence and over fishing by both sport and commercial harvesters of one of their main food sources, smelt, has been a close second in the cause of the plummeting numbers of sturgeon. Sport fisheries have been regulated to near nothing while bycatch of these fish continues. The smelt are now federally protected for what good that will do. The same thing is happening not only with upper Cook Inlet Kings but silvers as well. With the recent task force goings on we got a good taste of what the ESSN crowd is willing to do in times of low abundance of Kenai kings...NOTHING...except manipulate numbers and shout that there is no king problem. I applaud Mr. Brush for "taking a stand" as the article puts it and I know almost all sport king fisherman, guides or not, are willing to catch an release or not fish if it means the survival of this great fish species. The reality of is however, without that same mentality coming from the other half of the largest harvesters, the ESSN fishery, we will get no where but where we are and worse.

beaverlooper
2349
Points
beaverlooper 04/10/13 - 10:08 am
2
0
you cn do SOMETHING

Way to go Mr Brush!! You can't do everything, but you can do something.

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 04/10/13 - 11:36 am
6
0
BETTER YET

Better yet folks (guides and non-guides), just relent and refuse to fish for Kings on the Kenai River; at least for the time being. I am a guide on the Kenai River and this is what I did last year. I gave my Kenai River trips to halibut boat captains, upper river trout/sockeye guides, fly outs, Seward trips, etc. All of my clients were very happy and understood that "it was just the right thing to do" when the King Salmon population is suffering.

I lost thousands of dollars, but it was for the conservation efforts toward saving the mighty Kenai River Kings.

I believe many of the Kings that are hooked and released after a strenuous battle up and down the river, will die before spawning.

borninak
601
Points
borninak 04/10/13 - 06:48 pm
0
0
Kapco are you reading along?

Kapco, correct me if I'm wrong, but at least 2 posters in this thread berate, ridicule and seem quite angry with Mr. Brush for his king salmon conservation philosophy, yet you claim that "almost all sport king fisherman, guides or not, are willing to catch an release or not fish if it means the survival of this great fish species." ??? The evidence here seems contradictary to your statement of "almost everybody." (Or maybe the only 2 haters in the group posted here.) Then, you claim ESSN do nothing but "manipulate numbers and shout that there is no king problem." Sorry to burst your bubble but the ADF&G is reporting the numbers, presenting the biology and executing the management plan through the board process. If you don't like the numbers, the biology, or the management plan, I reccomend you walk into the ADF&G and take your arguement up with them. That is if you have the guts to go in and disparage the biologists that actually present the numbers you don't apparently like.

Kapco
148
Points
Kapco 04/10/13 - 08:14 pm
1
0
borninak, the manipulation

borninak, the manipulation of numbers I was speaking of was the ESSN beating the numbers supplied by ADFG into the ground, insisting there is no king problem and ultimately getting a reduction in the escapement goal (not as low as they wanted it) which will help ensure their nets will be in the water. So, if the numbers are what they are and we have a minimum escapement that the biology/science say are sustainable then we don't even have a king problem as the ESSN have argued. And, if we don't have a problem then there will be no repeat of 2012 and set nets will be in the water. And, if that is the case why should Mr. Brush or anyone else be considering voluntary hook and release? I never said that I did not like any numbers ADFG has put out. I have the guts to speak to the bios and have done so. I don't and have not disparaged them on anything--they are experts and I respect that . I have advocated for escapement based, open ended (to allow for extra harvest in abundance) caps on king harvest both on the commercial side and the sport side based on history/biology and science. I have also advocated, in this day and age of technology for more real time creel checks and commercial harvest survey. The best, real time information we can get will benefit us all in working to a workable solution. In the end all I can ask you is, if the biology/science says 2012 was a huge management mistake with the closures, why are we even here discussing this article?

beaverlooper
2349
Points
beaverlooper 04/10/13 - 09:40 pm
0
0
why are reds doing so well

If the big problem is trawlers( they should be outlawed) why are the reds doing so well?And no opinions give me some science from legitimate web sites with no skin in the game. Thanks aknatureguy i agree except i think silvers should be protected too.

borninak
601
Points
borninak 04/10/13 - 09:45 pm
1
0
Article Discussion

Kapco, The article was interesting in how folks responded to it. A few guides bashing another guide for a hook and release philosophy that obviously angered them. Some decided this opened the door to bash the evil ESSN fisherman for basically just existing. Some posters were very appreciative of the conservation effort. To answer your question, Mr. Brush might release Kings even when there are plenty(if thats ever really possible) for the same reason I have done it. You experience the catch, you see the mightiest salmon in the world face to face, and then you respectfully release the monster and watch him majestically swim off. Hopefully he lives. It is as much of a rush as bonking them on the head. I grew up fishing on the Kenai River in the 60's and kept about 1 per year and let dozens go.
On your other point, I personally don't believe 2012 was all a huge management mistake like some do. The kings did run later, as they have for several years now, and the front end was weak. Really weak. The ADF&G managers did what they had to do and everybody wants to second guess them because hind sight is 20/20. I am friends with many of our biologists in town and believe me, they have a horribly tough job and they do their best with a lot of integrity. I wouldn't want their job, especially when you know who has the audacity to bad mouth them constantly. I'm glad to hear you are not going to lower yourself to that.

pengy
246
Points
pengy 04/11/13 - 06:12 am
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beaverlooper

Reds doing well? Yes. Why? They are plankton eaters and rear in different areas than kings. Trawlers are not fishing in the same waters as the reds.

smithtb
238
Points
smithtb 04/11/13 - 07:15 am
2
2
Low Productivity, not Overharvest

While I commend Mr. Brush for actually taking a stand on this issue, I don't think he is addressing the heart of it. All scientific data suggests that the exploitation rate of these fish is quite low, and there are no signs of overharvest. Compared to most salmon stocks in Alaska, these fish are underharvested. Dismal returns are due to reduced productivity and past overescapement, not overharvest. At least that's what the biologists say. Likely, Mr. Brush's Willie's Predator and the wake it puts off is doing more damage than his clients are by harvesting these fish. A more effective solution might be to turn his guide service into a catch and kill drift only guide service. Get rid of some powerboat traffic.

Kapco
148
Points
Kapco 04/11/13 - 07:35 am
1
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Still have not had anyone tell me...

smithtb, I have heard that the biologists say that over escapement of kings on the Kenai is a source of bad productivity but have asked you and others to please site a source on the studies--up to now, no source. If as borninak states, the biologists and their science (and I cannot disagree as I am not a biologist) are solid in their research, then the combination of his cited science and yours, we have no king problem and all participants in the fishery should be able to harvest to "normal" levels without any problems. And, if any sport angler, guide or otherwise wants to hook an release, more power to them--the mortality everyone is worried about is well within the confines of tolerable based on the science presented. And in using this same logic, is Mr. Brush's boat a bad thing--maybe the wake you are talking about is a positive step towards ensuring there is no harmful over escapement of kings in the Kenai.

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 04/11/13 - 07:59 am
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I Doubt Seriously

I doubt seriously that we have any chance of over escapement of Kings in the Kenai River in the foreseeable future. I think that is crazy. All they would have to do is open it up to using bait and a large number of Kings would be harvested. AK Fish & Game and the Board keep lowering the escapement goal almost every year..........I guess so they can keep the river open to at least catch n release?

If you remember, 60 - 80 pound Kings caught on the Kenai used to be relatively common event. I don't know if any Kings over 70 pounds were caught last year?

smithtb
238
Points
smithtb 04/12/13 - 11:39 am
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ADFG

Kapco,

You should start by reading the new KRLRK escapement goal report released by ADFG. The spawner/recruit graph shows decreased productivity at large escapements, which were seen several years ago. Also, listen to ADFG's presentation at the start of last month's BOF meeting. The ADFG scientist did a very good job of presenting this report, and very clearly linked low productivity to past large escapements as well as low ocean productivity.

AKNATUREGUY

Last year's escapement was less than 2000 fish from the top of the goal. They have not lowered the EG almost every year. Not even close. This is the first time the number has changed in quite some time, and it is not necessarily lower as it is based on different technology.

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 04/12/13 - 12:05 pm
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Honestly Does Anyone Believe

SMITHTB........Honestly, does anyone believe the stats by Alaska F&G? The stats, counting methodology, sonar technology, etc. is constantly changing.

If the escapement was so close to the AK F&G goal in 2012, why was the inriver king fishing virtually shut down?

Also, the silver salmon fishing was the poorest I have seen in the last 25 years; even much poorer than the year that F&G restricted the take to 1 Silver.

Kapco
148
Points
Kapco 04/12/13 - 01:25 pm
1
1
I like the logic...

smithtb, I like your science and logic because if we go by both then 2012 was a huge mistake and we have no king problem. I am glad you have been able to clear it all up for us all. I am excited for the upcoming king season and look forward to harvesting a couple or, like Mr. Brush, I may decide to let a few go as well. alaksanatureguy, according to smithtb it is all good and we don't have anything to worry about. We just have to make sure not to let too many kings make it back to the river so that over escapement does not put us back in this predicament again. My prediction for this upcoming season, the sport fishery will be curtailed or closed while the set nets stay in the water and take as many kings as will swim into the nets...let's hope they swim deep and in the middle.

AKNATUREGUY
295
Points
AKNATUREGUY 04/12/13 - 01:50 pm
1
0
KAPCO-SARCASTC???

Kapco...........I am hoping you are sarcastic in your most recent post. I don't believe anyone (except AK F&G and a few politicians) really believes we do not have a serious King Salmon problem on the Kenai River. If you don't think so, just ask the lodges, B&Bs and guides why their bookings are down as much as 50% this year.

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