Reader: Too many guides

Posted: Friday, June 15, 2007

I’d like to respond to letters recently written by Don Johnson. I fish our rivers voraciously and passionately once winter retreats and ice flees. I’ve read opinions rendered by Mr. Johnson and finally felt the urge to respond to the propaganda he slings bi-weekly.

He refers to Alaska’s Constitution and court cases to support his perceptions and further his commercial, or rather guided sportfishing, agenda. He consistently distances guides from commercial fishermen, but a Google search will define “commercial” as “connected with or engaged in or sponsored by or used in commerce or commercial enterprises.”

The last time I checked, commerce represented trade, or the exchange of services and/or goods for monetary compensation. I’ve yet to hear of any anglers fishing gratis on boats with stickers on the side so let’s acknowledge that commercial means working for money. The only folks striving to discern the difference are the guides themselves and the interests that represent them. Let’s cut the bull.

I sometimes find failure in politics and if we cannot find an equitable solution to the problem at hand, the Kenai River shall be damned by the greed of men. These guides hide behind laws and throw stones at other user groups to deter from the obvious: guides have overrun the Kenai and continue to strengthen their clamps on its bounty.

Don evokes legislation from the ’80s, a time when the Kenai wasn’t teetering on the verge of being labeled as impaired and nonguided Alaskans could enjoy tranquility on the river. I’m not anti-guide; I recognize the financial contributions their services provide the community. But living here year-around because of the fulfillment the peninsula offers, I, like many Alaska anglers, find dismay at the number of guide boats on the river.

Look at the stats: nonguided angling hours on the river have decreased exponentially over the last 10 years. We should’ve established limited entry years back and if necessary, made amendments to our Constitution to do so. Two-strokes might not be good for the environment, but 300 guides fishing two-a-day trips with their four-strokes probably bodes a wee bit worse.

Some guides who share Mr. Johnson’s views prefer to overlook science for love of money. It sure is difficult to catch six kings a day with the commercial guys fishing the corridor. I recognize that commercial fishermen have mouths to feed and, more importantly, are the strongest facet of escapement control utilized by the biologists (experts) at Fish and Game.

You can deflect the truth as much as you want, Mr. Johnson, but as long as you and your armada continue to run up and down the river in vast numbers with multitrip days, the Kenai will continue to find peril. And one day people like me who genuinely love Alaska and revere the Kenai River will vacate it for another body of water that hasn’t been polluted by greed, but rather managed by science. The Kenai is turquoise, Mr. Johnson, not green and yellow.

Danny Ungrue


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