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Parties must come together to solve Kenai River issues

Posted: March 21, 2014 - 8:43am

A recent letter to the editor from Frank Mullen has added a lot of strength to perceived problems with the Board of Fish. I once fished the Kenai River for kings, but do not presently do so. As I look at the existing conditions, a couple of things come right to the forefront. In the late 1970s, there were about the same number of commercial fishermen as today, there were not as many sport fishermen, and certainly nowhere as many guides. There were the daily gripes about the commercial fishermen taking the kings, but truth be known, it was usually due to fishing techniques. The Kenai River king salmon met or exceeded the escapement numbers. Sport fishermen drifted the river, usually using spin-n-glos, sometimes with bait. The river was a much quieter, gentler place, and very few peninsula residents fished on weekends, because that was when the Anchorage crowds showed up.

As we marched into the 80s, more and more guides were showing up, and shouting about the numbers of boats with too much horsepower creating bank erosion, plus they were saying the commercial fishermen were getting too many of the kings. It then became a fact that many of these contentious arguments were settled by courts and not by the Board of Fish, and certainly not by biological data. The end result was limiting boat horsepower, but not the number of guides, who by now, were increasing their hold on the river. Kenai kings were starting to decrease in their yearly escapement, guides were back-trolling, and (in my opinion) slaying kings on their spawning beds. The river was no longer a fun, gentle place to be.

Since then, the almighty dollar controls everyone’s thoughts. It is not the Kenai River king. The Board of Fish should think of the resource, as we all know it is no longer a river of mighty kings. A state senator recently said the only way we (Alaskans) are going to solve this problem is through equality. Commercial fishermen, guides, and true sport fisherman must come together and solve these differences or the river will become a very gentle place, one with no kings and no king salmon fishermen. If this requires the Board of Fish to be totally changed, so be it, but again all groups must make a truce and peacefully agree to let the river come back, if it can.

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otnot03
3
Points
otnot03 03/21/14 - 12:43 pm
1
0
Kenai Kings

We can't fish trout when they are spawning. We can't hunt moose when they are in the rut. Why do we fish for kings when they are trying to spawn?

Alaskaborn
49
Points
Alaskaborn 03/21/14 - 07:30 pm
0
5
King fishing is closed during spawning

Fishing for king salmon is closed on all the tributaries where kings spawn. For mainstem spawning kings, they don't spawn until mid to late August when the river is closed to king salmon fishing. The closure to king salmon fishing beginning August 1 is the same thing as the rainbow trout spawning closure. When a salmon enters the river, it doesn't automatically begin to spawn. Until it is actually laying eggs or fertilizing eggs, it's really no different than when it enters the inlet where everyone thinks its ok to harvest them.

The Kenai is no different than any of the other streams around the state that have experienced poor king salmon production, including stocked fisheries. Many streams that have no boats, little to no guides, little to no harvest or effort are all experiencing poor production.

kenaiman1957
18
Points
kenaiman1957 03/21/14 - 10:01 pm
3
0
Thanks Joe Harris for you great comment

You have summed things up in a very simple way. It's true that the increase in guides in the 1980's and 1990's took as many kings as they could and not only that but kept the big ones. Although the king runs in other parts of the state have seen a decline in king runs also it has no bearing on what has taken place on the Kenai river. Southeast Alaska still has a strong run. I would like to see a reduction in Kenai River guides and a closure of the Kenai river king fishing for the next 4 years. Let the might Kenai Kings rebuild its self. But your right the all might dollar rules and the state won't let that happen. This is not a commercial fishing problem! It's an in river problem plan and simple. WAKE UP COMMERCIAL FISHING GUIDES! You have rape the Kenai Rive enough! Get a real job and fish the river for fun on your days off. Been there done that.

kenaiman1957
18
Points
kenaiman1957 03/26/14 - 10:16 am
0
0
Thanks Joe Harris for you great comment

You have summed things up in a very simple way. It's true that the increase in guides in the 1980's and 1990's took as many kings as they could and not only that but kept the big ones. Although the king runs in other parts of the state have seen a decline in king runs also it has no bearing on what has taken place on the Kenai river. Southeast Alaska still has a strong run. I would like to see a reduction in Kenai River guides and a closure of the Kenai river king fishing for the next 4 years. Let the might Kenai Kings rebuild its self. But your right the all might dollar rules and the state won't let that happen. This is not a commercial fishing problem! It's an in river problem plan and simple. WAKE UP COMMERCIAL FISHING GUIDES! You have rape the Kenai Rive enough! Get a real job and fish the river for fun on your days off. Been there done that.

Alaskaborn
49
Points
Alaskaborn 03/21/14 - 10:23 pm
0
4
Pointing fingers doesn't help

The late run total harvest is in proportion to the return. No seletive harvest there. Read the repprts. Southeast kings are all hatchery stocks and BC fish. Yet even those runs have been below average which is why bag limits were restricted the last few years. if you want to limit guides for social reasons, that's fine, but blaming them for recent poor king runs is just as wrong as blaming commercial setnets. Why is it so hard to accept that the marine environment hasn't been favorable to king (and coho) salmon. Wide spread decline doesn't indicate a freshwater problem, there's no common denominator.

pengy
246
Points
pengy 03/23/14 - 08:47 am
1
1
Alaskaborn=a voice of reason.

Alaskaborn=a voice of reason. Thank you.

borninak
609
Points
borninak 03/23/14 - 10:41 am
2
1
Pointing Fingers

Pointing fingers for king salmon problems is one thing, and coming out with an inititiative to ban setnets for "conservation" is another. Sportfishing interests have that 500 lb gorilla in the living room during this finger pointing contest. How "reasonable" is that Pengy?

pengy
246
Points
pengy 03/23/14 - 11:54 am
1
1
borninak, thanks for proving

borninak, thanks for proving my point how reasonable and rational Alaskaborn is.

Extremist on both sides hinder movement forward.

pengy
246
Points
pengy 03/23/14 - 12:41 pm
1
1
kenaiman1957, in an article

kenaiman1957, in an article published in this newspaper on November 8th, 2013 about the statewide king salmon decline:

"King salmon runs in Southeast Alaska also have experienced significant fluctuations in the past several decades. The Taku and Stikine rivers have the largest king salmon runs in Southeast Alaska, according to ADFG, but returns have varied and hit RECORD LOWS in recent years."

Raoulduke
2668
Points
Raoulduke 03/23/14 - 07:02 pm
3
0
Around,and Around

Close the King fishery for the next 5 years to ALL. Then the groups who obviously do not care to sit down with the others'. There will be no need. The fishery will be CLOSED.The arguing is over. HIP! HIP! HOORAY!

kenai-king
232
Points
kenai-king 03/24/14 - 07:02 am
1
0
re-around and around

I agree but I think 7years is needed if not more.

cormit
224
Points
cormit 03/24/14 - 01:05 pm
2
0
Alaskaborn

Your argument that kings don't start spawning till August is flawed. Kings don't enter the river for sightseeing. The process to locate and secure suitable nesting sights is also an important part of successful spawning. Intense boating traffic over staging kings may interrupt kings from securing a suitable spot to lay eggs. At some point the eggs will be laid .... whether the site is optimum or not ...... this contributes to lowered spawning success. The Kenai River may have the greatest number of boats racing back and forth over staging and spawning kings as any river in the state. No matter what is happening statewide on other systems ..... our Kenai River must have relief from this endless boat traffic and harassment of kings in various stages spawning .... if these fish are going to survive or recover.

leewaytooo
1500
Points
leewaytooo 03/26/14 - 02:02 am
1
0
make the river drift only and

make the river drift only and oars for everyone.....

bring serenity to the river......and they will come.......

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