With all the discussion concerning the Kenai River King salmon I am surprised that the issue of excessive guide pressure has not been brought up. The” commercial” guide industry impacts the Kenai on two fronts. One being the sheer number of kings that this commercial fishery kills and the second is the adverse affects this industry has on the quality of life on this river.
One does not have to speak to many sport fishermen from south central Alaska to realize that many if not most have stopped fishing the Kenai for kings because of the overcrowding on the lower river. Between being squeezed out of the traditional holes and the excessive wakes generated as these”commercial” boats transfer clients from one hole to another the river takes on the picture of true “combat fishing”.
In terms of number of kings killed by the 400 or so boats the possibilities are staggering. If each boat killed 2 per day they would account for 800 per day total or 4,000 per wk. In 6wks they could account for 24,000 kings! One entrepreneur built a hotel along the banks of the river and runs a string of 6 or so guides to service his clients. This hotel owner can account for 12 dead kings each day or 60 each week!
The guide industry complains about the number of miles of net the set netters have out each fishing day. Yet if each guide boat had 4 clients out in a day they would account for 1600 hooks dragging the river each day. That number times an 8 hr day means 12,800 hook hours each day!
The point is that the guide industry needs limits imposed upon them just as the set netters have. The sheer numbers of permits needs serious reduction by whatever method the powers to be choose. One method of course is to treat the king as a trophy fish and issue drawing permits for the privilege of killing one.
Peter E. Cannava