Smiles were abundant Aug. 13 at the 8th annual Kenai River Jr. Classic 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.
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.
The Jr. Classic is part of a nationwide effort – Take Me Fishing – that encourages young people to learn about and enjoy fishing. KRSA believes that by teaching kids to fish at an early age, they’ll learn to love the sport as adults.
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.
The Alaska Office of Boating Safety was on hand to guide the youth through a boat safety class prior to going on the river and every child received a loaner life jacket for the day through the SAFE Kids program, courtesy of Central Peninsula Hospital. Partnering with KRSA to provide help with the educational stations was the Alaska Army National Guard, Alaska SeaLife Center, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Sportsman’s Warehouse, and Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing.