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Kasilof River salmon fishery overhauled by state board

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2002

Fishing from motorized boats will no longer be allowed on the Kasilof River under changes approved Tuesday by the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

In addition, fishing guides may take just one float trip down the river per day and may not fish with clients.

The board is trying to tackle the problem of overcrowding on the popular Kenai Peninsula river and potential overfishing of wild king salmon.

The new restrictions on guiding were requested by the guides themselves, who said the Kasilof River has escaped management scrutiny for too long. The Kasilof is an important sport fishing river, but unlike the Kenai, it has not received much attention from managers, according to sport fishing guides.

''The Kasilof is a forgotten river,'' said Brett Huber, executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association. ''It's always been in the shadow of the Kenai.''

To deal with overcrowding and to protect wild king salmon, the guides proposed a number of ways to cut their harvest by about 30 percent. One of the key proposals banned fishing from motorized boats, which have increased in recent years and clashed with drift boats.

''It's a growing concern,'' said Greg Brush, a Kenai and Kasilof fishing guide. ''The board was trying to nip that in the bud.''

In addition, sport fishers may now catch just three king salmon per season from the Kasilof of a total of five kings allowed annually from Cook Inlet.

Brush and Huber applauded the board's new management plan, saying they think it is fair and will help wild salmon.

The board also recognized that because overall Kasilof salmon stocks are thriving, commercial fishing should continue. The board chose to open commercial fishing June 25, forgoing the usual practice of waiting for enough fish to swim past sonar counters. The change aims to give the fishery a reliable opening date.



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