Seniors kick off classic

Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2008

Today is the last day to get it on one of the "fishiest" summer fund-raisers on the Kenai Peninsula.

"The 31st is it," said Judy Warren, executive director of the Sterling Senior Center, in regard to their Sockeye Salmon Count Classic event, which since 1997 has annually run through the month of July.

"The original concept was to have it be like the Nenana Ice Classic," Warren said, referring to the winter contest where people pick the date and time to the closest minute when the ice covering the Tanana River breaks, thus signaling the start of spring.

The senior center's contests hinges on salmon, rather than ice, though.

"Prize money is awarded for the closest guess of the total number of sockeye salmon crossing the counter operated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on the Kenai River as of Aug. 3," she said.

This may not sound too difficult, but Warren said it can be tough, since thousands of sockeye can, and often do, surge into the river at any given time.

"You never know when the fish will come in. They've been known to surprise us in the past," she said.

Adding to the situation this year, is the low numbers of sockeye entering the river. As of Tuesday, the Fish and Game sockeye sonar counter -- located approximately 19 miles upstream from the mouth of the river -- had recorded 22,139 sockeye for the day and only 400,162 sockeye cumulatively in the late run. This comes despite a Fish and Game prediction of a run of more than 3 million sockeye, and their hope to achieve an in-river goal of 750,000 to 950,000 sockeye.

"The fish haven't been good, so it's been challenging," Warren said.

Still, the person with the best piscatorial prognostication will receive half of the proceeds from the $2 ticket sales, which could amount to quite a bit, she said.

"We've always sold a couple thousand, and this year we've sold more than ever before," she said.

Since it is a fund-rasing event, the other half of the proceeds will remain with the senior center and get put to good use, Warren said.

"We use it for our operations and ongoing activities," she said.

Tickets are available at the Sterling Senior Center at Mile 82 of the Sterling Highway. For more information, call 262-6808.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at

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