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Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, February 02, 2001

Too many guides means fewer Alaskans on river sportfishing

After reading several articles on how the number of resident sportfishing licenses are decreasing in Alaska, I felt compelled to write this article.

Sportfishing in Alaska is not for the weak at heart anymore. If you are going fishing, you had better be trained in the art of self defense. If king salmon is your fish of choice, then you had better be good at getting up early in the morning and be on the river by 4 o'clock and plan on being off by 6 o'clock. If not, then you will meet, in my opinion, the group responsible for the decrease in the sale of resident sportfishing licenses in Alaska.

The problem of too many guides continues to be something that the Board of Fisheries and others refuse to deal with. The stories abound about the instances of guides forcing people out of fishing spots on the river, being rude to them and threatening them.

I've talked to a lot of residents that have sold their boats and some even their homes and property because of this problem, and no longer fish the Kenai River.

I'm not saying that all guides are bad. I'm saying that, as in everything, there does not need to be very many bad ones to make them all look bad. The simple fact is there are just too many.

I've always believed that the plan to register them to areas is the answer to this problem. If the Kenai had only two areas of registration, one from the Warren Ames Bridge to the Soldotna bridge and the other from the Soldotna bridge to the outlet of Skilak, it would have to help.

They would register themselves and their subcontractors to an area and stay there for the season. The Kasilof could be another area, and Deep Creek the other.

Also, like everything else in Alaska, a season on guided anglers would be nice. Something like May 20 to Sept. 1 would be more than anyone else gets. By doing this you free up time early and time late for resident anglers.

We also must address the bag limits on red salmon. Why are we starting the season off with six fish? Not even in territorial days was this allowed. If the escapement is met, I could see it, but otherwise three fish is enough.

The resident sport anglers might catch some fish if some nonresident wasn't homesteading the red holes on the Kenai River. It's time to restrict the number of fish these people can take out of Alaska. It can be done and has been done in other areas of the state; read the king regs for Southeastern.

The Board of Fish will never deal with this problem as long as its members are fishing with the Kenai River Classic and the guides on the Kenai River. I would add that they don't really participate in the classic, they just fill spots in boats that the classic has bought. You see this makes it all right in the eyes of the people running the show.

Something stinks on the Kenai River and, I don't think it's rotting humpies.

The best plan to be proposed in a long time is the $10 fee to be paid for dipnetting. I commend Rep. Ken Lancaster for his leadership in proposing this; there's been abuse in this fishery for far too long.

These are the steps that need to be taken to protect residents of Alaska.

They can say what they want about how important tourism is to supporting this area, but personally I haven't seen a tourist since August. The other nine months of the year the area is supported by the men and women that work in the oilfields, refinery and private business. You used to be able to include commercial fishing in this category, but we've seen what they've done to that.

Todd Moore

Soldotna



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