During the fast paced summer salmon runs, access is everything. Anglers want to know where the fish are and occasionally risk a rogue hook just for a spot on the Kenai River and its tributaries.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game fisheries biologist Jeff Breakfield said anglers set on catching their Alaska salmon, and even some locals, may be overlooking a set of prime locations on the banks of the Kenai River.
Defined in two 10-year-old reports, the Kenai River Access Report and the Kenai Section Line Easement and Access Information Report provide locations on banks less trodden, and are essentially a list of access points along the water.
“You wouldn’t have a clue they are there without knowing ahead of time,” Breakfield said.
A section line easement is a public right-of-way ranging between 33-100 feet wide that runs along a section line of the rectangular survey system, according to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
While the access reports were produced in 1999 their information is no less relevant, Breakfield said.
Easements may be developed or undeveloped, Breakfield said. They are entirely legal to fish from.
However, locating these hidden spots can be tricky, Breakfield said. While the locations are plentiful, unless a fisherman has been in the area before, or has exact directions to a spot, it is unlikely he or she will just be able to drive down the road and pick one out, he said.
The best way to find them is by choosing a street ahead of time and contacting Fish and Game, or the Kenai Peninsula Borough to request the location of easements and right-of-ways, Breakfield said.
Funny River Road, Keystone Drive, and Redoubt Avenue are a few of the local roadways that host some of the easements, according to the River Access Report.
While some property owners are unhappy about the potential pilgrimage of anglers on areas resting against their property, Fish and Game is fighting to keep the easements open to the public, Breakfield said. He said some of his job is about providing legal access to the streams, rivers, lakes and coast of the Kenai Watershed.
“We regulate them to provide better or equal access to the river,” Breakfield said.
Breakfield also reminded anglers to adhere to any closure signs set up by Fish and Game closing off sections of the river. Be prepared of the potential for a short hike, he said. Some easements do not have roads all the way down to the water.
“Parking can be a pain,” Breakfield said. “You have to research it a bit.”
Use of the land outside the right of way or beyond its scope could constitute trespassing on private land or violation of local, state or federal regulations on public land, according to DNR. Always check Fish and Game seasonal closures ahead of time, Breakfield said. Just because an area is an easement, does not mean it is legal to fish there.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org