Members of the Kenai Peninsula’s chapter of Trout Unlimited talked sport fishing, commercial fishing, and the common ground between them at their most recent meeting.
Following a new fish trivia game at Tuesdays meeting at Odie’s Deli in Soldotna, the group heard from local writer Dave Atcheson and Trout Unlimited Board Member Allie Cunningham. The two shared their experience with both forms of fishing and provided pictures and videos from their adventures to along with the accounts.
Board Member Lisa Beranek said Trout Unlimited chose those speakers to highlight the fact that sports fishing and commercial fishing do not have to be opposing interests.
“In our community a lot of times different groups kind of feel that they have to be… in competition with one another and we kind of wanted to take an opportunity to celebrate the differences and similarities,” Beranek said.
Atcheson used excerpts from two of his books to take members on a journey through his long history with commercial fishing after arriving in Alaska. Atcheson has also participated in sport fishing. His tales were contrasted with Cunningham’s relatively fresh knowledge of commercial fishing gained through working on a tender for the past few summers.
Cunningham emphasized to the group members that her time learning the business made her think more about the realistic stainability of Alaska’s fisheries and about conservation.
At one point, Cunningham asked the members gathered for the meeting what it was that motivated them to fish, whether it be commercial or sport. Answers like adventure, a sense of place, camaraderie and to get outdoors echoed around the room.
“I think the whole point of me wanting to give this talk at all was that all of those things are another… you know, that’s a common thread through any type of fishing,” Cunningham said.
The theme throughout the evening was that, while the two types of fishing may differ, the reason people participate in them remains the same: a love of an appreciation for Alaska’s fish.
“I think it’s an important thing to note that … at least our chapter doesn’t see it as a sport fishing versus commercial fishing kind of thing,” Beranek said.
Beranek also emphasized the fact that Alaska residents are lucky in terms of having healthy fisheries compared to some other parts of the country, and that the group tries to keep it that way. Trout Unlimited will host a continued river clean up project in the Funny River area. Those interested in participating can contact the chapter, Beranek said.