The Kenai River Sportfishing Association's (KRSA) hopes that their 9th Kenai River Classic will be better than ever, but according to executive director Brett Huber, it won't get any bigger, "They seem to get better every year, but bigger? No. We grew to as large as we want the tournament to be last year and we want to hold it at that size so that we are sure to keep it at a level where we fit our facilities and take good personal care of everyone who will be attending," said Huber.
For the first time last year the Classic broke the million-dollar mark in funds raised. Proceeds from the Classic come from three areas, participant fees, corporate sponsorships, and the Classic auction, which is held the second night of the tournament. According to Huber breaking the million dollar mark will hinge on how well the auction goes, "The Auction performed remarkably last year, and we're hoping for another night like that again. That's going to make the difference on whether we hit the million dollar mark, but it's going to be close," said Huber.
After being closed for King Salmon fishing the later part of June, the Kenai River will be open for King fishing again starting July 1st, "Like everybody else, we have been extremely disappointed in the performance of the early run this year, but protecting the fish has to come first. We've supported the restrictions to make the minimum escapement for the first run and of course now are hoping for a strong second run and like everyone hoping for a lot fish," added Huber. From the onset of the tournament, KRSA has stressed catch and release with an average of 60 to 65% of the fish caught during the Classic being released.
The Classic once again will be hosting a strong run of VIP guests including U.S. Senators, other elected officials, federal officials, and corporate managers from around the state, across the nation and around the world. NASA Astronaut Michael Collins, an avid fisherman, will be returning to fish in the Classic this year.
"The success of the Classic has to be credited to the community. It may have started out as an Association event, but it has turned into a community event with nearly 200 volunteers this year. The thing I hear from the Classic participants that come back every year is they love the hospitality, they feel at home when they come to the Kenai and the community deserves the credit. It's there concern for the river that has built this to such a great event," added Huber.
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