KRSA plans big changes to fish event

For the first time in its 20-year history, the Kenai River Classic will target silver salmon instead of king salmon.

After two years of catch-and-release chinook salmon fishing, the Kenai River Sportfishing Association changed the annual three-day fishing invitational from July to August in an effort to ease fishing pressure on struggling chinook stocks said Ricky Gease, executive director of KRSA.

The 2013 Classic will be held
Aug. 19-21.

Gease said participants and sponsors were consulted to make sure an August event would fit in with their schedules.

“Overwhelmingly our participants and sponsors said yes,” Gease said. “So we decided to make that move for the 20th anniversary.”

Gease said KRSA needed predictability in the fishery to hold the event which usually draws from 60-100 participants, Gease said.

Participants pay $4,000 per person for two days of fishing and two nights of lodging and several other amenities. The remainder of the fee is donated to KRSA.

The event has raised more than $12 million in the last 15 years, according to a KRSA media release.

He said uncertainty in the chinook fishery may prolong the Kenai River Classic’s transition to an August fishery.

“At some point, if we get a return to healthy king salmon returns then the board of directors will have to make the decision to return to July,” he said.

The money that is raised goes toward fulfilling the goal of KRSA, which is to try to sustain the Kenai River, Gease said.

“Three years ago we started seeing some downturns in king salmon abundance, we moved to catch-and-release fishing and going forward with the uncertainty in the river, this will take us out of the equation in terms of king salmon management in May, June and July and we’ll just do the event in August and then see where things shake out in the following years,” he said.