I was a fly-fishing guide for 7 years based out of Cooper Landing. I guided for king salmon mainly on the Kasilof River. I am now a Realtor on the Peninsula and though I just recently stopped guiding, I still fish as much as possible, and I still care very much about the sustainability of the Peninsula’s fishery. Especially that what is happening to the Kenai kings affects the neighboring fisheries. My concern is that I have seen low number in both rivers — and on a day to day basis in the summer, if the Kenai was slow the Kasilof would get slammed with more boats than usual. I don’t think that helps create a balance that we are looking for. It throws off numbers, on both rivers and affects what Fish and Game thinks is happening because their numbers are so skewed. The worst was when the Kenai would be open for catch and release of kings which clearly was done so that the fishery would not be entirely closed down and the commercial fishermen could continue fishing.
It has also been made very clear that the management of our fish is no longer to try and get the highest escapements, but rather the bare minimum! So if we just meet the minimum escapement, management lightens the regulations so more fish could be caught, etc., rather than trying to see if more than the minimum escapement could be reached. The fishery these days in my eyes is being managed for the good of the people not the fish! These fish have a number of things causing their decline, not just people — I believe the climate change is affecting their returns, the king salmon’s food source in the ocean being targeted commercially, and currently the leaking nuclear plant in Japan that has now hit Alaska’s shores can’t be helping anything. So with all these other variables affecting the fish the very least we can do is take action and do what we can to help save the Kenai fishery!
When the Alaska Board of Fisheries meets later this month, I hope they will take action to save Alaska’s Kenai king salmon. I hope your readers will reach out to the Board and ask them to take action.