Back to back events August 13th & 14th saw over 150 kids fishing with professional guides on the Kenai River. First was the 8th Annual Kenai River Jr. Classic where smiles were abundant as nearly 100 youth from JBER, the Mat-Su Valley and across the Kenai Peninsula participated in this year’s event, organized by Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA). “For many of the youth, it was the first time they had ever caught a fish,” said Ricky Gease, KRSA executive director. “Kids not only got to fish for silvers with a professional guide all afternoon, they spent the morning learning about salmon and their life cycles, how to tie fishing knots, boating safety and the importance of wearing a life jacket and this year we had a live porcupine that kids got up close to,” he said.
The Jr. Classic is part of a nationwide effort – Take Me Fishing – that encourages young people to learn about and enjoy fishing. Alaska USA Federal Credit Union and Alaska USA Foundation were the title sponsors of this year’s event. They were joined by more than 40 Alaska and national companies who sponsored boats or donated cash or in-kind services to the event so that youth, ages 8 to 16, could participate. KRSA pays the professional guides who take the children fishing and coordinate the other educational events for the day.
The following day professional guides through the Kenai River Foundation took another 60 some local Kenai Peninsula Boys & Girls Club members fishing on the Kenai River and hosted a Barbeque for them at Centennial Park in Soldotna. The Kenai Watershed Forum gave the kids a Stream Watch educational moment and Safekids fitted each one with a lifejacket prior to launching. “We also invited 10 kids who had never been fishing before from the Anchorage club to join us this year. Some of these kids have never been on the river or had a fishing line in their hand we really appreciate this partnership with the Kenai River Foundation for this end of summer experience for our kids before they head back to school,” said Heather Schloeman, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula executive director.