Veterans honored with Kenai River fishing trip

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2002

KENAI (AP) -- Kenai River fishing guides came up with their own special way to say thank you to Alaska's veterans. They took them on a fishing trip.

An armada of guides and former soldiers, sailors and airmen boarded boats Wednesday to launch a full frontal attack on the river's abundant silver salmon.

The guides believed the trip would be an appropriate way to commemorate the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said Steve McClure, vice president of the Kenai River Professional Guides Association.

''Being 9-11, we thought it was an important thing to do,'' he said.

About 30 veterans from Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the Kenai Peninsula went fishing on 12 guide boats.

Most fished the upper section of the lower Kenai River, upriver from Bing's Landing in Sterling. The silvers weren't always silver, many having been in the river for a week or more, but they were abundant.

Bob Kelly and Thomas Mazonna traveled from Anchorage for the day's fishing. The two Army veterans fished with Joe Connors of Big Sky Charters. After two hours of fishing, they had a limit of salmon -- two of which were bright silver, fresh from the ocean.

''I caught that good-looking one,'' joked Mazonna, pointing to a bright, fresh silver.

Kelly, proudly holding a reddish-tinted, 8-pound fish, said he was just happy to have the opportunity to get out and enjoy the river.

''Real hard to beat for a free trip,'' he said.

Mazonna said he hadn't been sport fishing in years before Wednesday's trip.

''I've been involved in processing for seven years, but I haven't really had a chance to go fishing. It's nice to get out of the city,'' he said.

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