Kenai River Classic brings anglers to town

Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The relative calm of June on the Kenai River will be broken later this week when a contingent of lawmakers, corporate executives and celebrities descend on the river for the 11th annual Kenai River Classic fishing tournament.

The Classic, the main fund-raising event for the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, is expected to bring more than 100 anglers to the river Thursday and Friday, all of them vying to hook into one or two of the Kenai's legendary king salmon.

The event will consist of two days of fishing on the Kenai with some of the Kenai's top fishing guides, during which time anglers will try to snare a variety of tournament honors, including trophies for the largest fish caught as well as the most fish released back into the river.

Putting on such a big event takes a lot of planning and preparation, which means more than 100 volunteers will help out setting up for barbecues, the Classic banquet and the annual auction.

"It's just a beehive of activity right now," KRSA Executive Director Ricky Gease said last week.

The event has grown over the years to become one of the premier destinations for Washington's movers and shakers. This year's lineup includes U.S. Sens. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota, Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, Wayne Allard, R-Colorado, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; as well as Classic honorary co-hosts Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Also expected to attend are U.S. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, U.S. Postmaster General Jack Potter, FCC Chair Michael Powell, Assistant Secretary of the Navy John Young, Jr., University of Louisville head basketball coach Denny Crum and country music artist Joni Harms.

Those dignitaries will share the river with some of the most important business leaders in America, including representatives from a number of oil, defense, aerospace, cruise line and transportation companies.

For the time they get to spend on the river, participants pay approximately $3,000 each, which doesn't include the money spent at the auction. Last year's event raised more than $1 million for KRSA, the majority of which goes back into the river in the form of bank restoration projects, educational efforts and river access projects.

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