Clarification on restriction on Kenai River fishery

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2004

In reference to Mr. Pennino's letter about no nonresident anglers allowed on Sundays, he stated that "this is clearly guide motivated." However nothing could be further from the truth. This proposal was put forth, through public process, by the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee to return fishing time to nonresidents and at the same time restrict illegal guiding on Sundays.

Anyone who fishes much on Sundays in July can tell you that illegal guiding is increasing almost to the point that it is just another guide day. There are two main reasons for this increase. First, law enforcement funding has been seriously reduced. Second, there are a lot of mostly nonresident anglers who are willing to pay reduced prices charged by illegal guides.

Current regulations restrict nonresident anglers from fishing from a boat in May and June from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Our proposal would rescind that restriction and says simply, nonresident anglers may not fish from a boat on Sundays from May 1 to July 31. We understand that this is an inconvenience for all of us who are accustomed to taking our nonresident friends and relatives fishing on Sundays, but since most of the illegal activity is accomplished by and for nonresident anglers, it is the only way to curb this activity and return Sunday to an unguided day.

We believe, most of us would be willing to make this sacrifice and fish with nonresidents at other times during the week to return Sundays back to a family day on the water. However you look at it, any day on the Kenai is pretty hectic and it might not hurt to have at least one day of the week set aside for locals and residents.

Several different factions constitute the development of the illegal guiding we are seeing on Sundays. I believe a small amount can be attributed to registered guides who are taking some people out as favors for trade-outs of services or business associates, and they don't want to do it during the week when it takes up a paid seat.

But the vast majority is being done by two other sectors. First, are people who fish the river often and charge a reduced fee to take "friends of friends" and others out on the QT to avoid having to register and pay the fees and insurance costs. There also are a growing number of guides from the Lower 48 who, without registering, rent or arrange for a boat and hit the river for the best 10 days of the king fishery in July and have organized groups coming in to meet them here and fish.

The one thing all of these activities have in common is that their success is related to mostly nonresident fishermen. Remove the source of the financial temptation and you remove the activity.

This may not be the best way to handle this situation. Fishery proposals are being accepted until April 9, so if you have any good ideas please take this opportunity to forward your ideas to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The local office on Kalifornsky Beach Road can provide you with the forms and any assistance you need. All proposals will be compiled this spring and out for public review and comment prior to the January 2005 Board of Fish meeting.

The public is always invited to our advisory committee meetings and we appreciate your comments. Meeting announcements can be found in the Clarion.

Good fishing,

Dwight Kramer, chair Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee

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