Fish and Game asks patience with net test

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Fishing on the Kenai River is getting rather crowded this time of year, even for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. That's why the department is asking for help from sportfishing anglers to clear a bit of space out on the water this month.

The department operates a test net fishery at Mile 8.5 of the Kenai River in order to determine the accuracy of its sonar counting program, according to area biologist Mark Gamblin.

"We're looking at what percent of the fish we catch are sockeye and king salmon," Gamblin said.

Since the area is a popular sportfishing spot, the department is asking anglers to have patience with department employees working the net. In order to get the best results possible, the nets must be placed in the river at certain times, usually about four hours before and after high tide.

It's critical to the success of the program, Gamblin said, that the nets are put in the river at the right time and department employees are given space by sport anglers.

"The crew does everything it can to accommodate anglers. We're just trying to get the word out, to try and avoid conflicts with the public," he said.

Fish and Game also is hoping to clarify an issue that has been the cause of some confusion this season. Guided fishing boats are not permitted to fish the Kenai on either Sundays or Mondays, regardless of whether the boat is a drift or motor boat or if it's registered on the Kenai or not.

Just as with private crafts, guide boats may still be used on the river for transportation purposes.

Gamblin said some confusion had arisen over the way the regulations are interpreted. He said some Kasilof guide drift boats were found to be fishing the Kenai as recreational anglers on Sundays, which the department determined is illegal.

"We didn't have any illegal guiding. Some Kasilof guides mistook the regulations to mean they could fish privately on Sunday," he said.

Gamblin said the department went back and looked at the regulations and determined some clarification was in order. A press release was issued July 12 to spread the word about the regulation.

"There were some concerns on our part that it wasn't clearly understood. We weren't confident we had consistency in the way it was being interpreted," Gamblin said.

"It's really just a clarification," he said.

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