New reg should usher in new attitude on Kenai River

  • Saturday, July 19, 2014 7:45pm
  • Opinion

On Saturday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game limited anglers fishing the late run of Kenai River king salmon to catch-and-release fishing and, in a new conservation measure for the state, fishing with barbless hooks.

The barbless hooks requirement is the latest in a series of fishing restrictions that include slot limits to protect certain vulnerable segments of the yearly returns, catch-and-release fishing, prohibitions on bait and sanctuaries on the river designed to protect spawning king salmon.

The new barbless hook regulation will make it easier for the struggling king salmon to slip a hook and, as Fish and Game staffers testified during a recent Board of Fisheries hearing on the issue, disproportionately affect the catching efficiency of young and inexperienced anglers.

Fish and Game regional management coordinator Matt Miller called the barbless hook regulation an allocation among anglers, not just user groups.

Disproportionate or not, it’s time to change our attitudes toward the Kenai River’s king salmon runs.

It’s time to rebuild the mythos surrounding the Kenai king salmon, perhaps to something more resembling the river’s rainbow trout fishery where barbless hook fishing is common. Anglers shouldn’t come to the Kenai River assuming they’re going to hook a king salmon. The fish should be difficult to catch, a true test of sportfishing prowess and a draw for anglers looking to challenge themselves to a higher level of fishing.

If personal-use fishermen must leave the fish in the water and commercial fishermen face increasingly restrictive fishing opportunity — the onus should be upon sport anglers, the only ones targeting the fish, to cultivate a fishery in which a caught king is a rare prize. And not just because there are so few of them, rather because the effort and skill required to land one is so great.

Whether the Kenai’s king salmon runs are weak or strong, it’s time for a radical change in the perception of king salmon fishing on the river. Making it the first in the state to require barbless hooks when catch-and-release fishing, is a step in that direction.

We hope it results in further protection for the few remaining fish forecasted to return to the river this year while still giving determined anglers a chance, however slight, to have a Kenai River fish tale worthy of a king.

More in Opinion

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: The foolish men claiming self-defense

It’s not just misguided teenagers carrying guns who find themselves in trouble with the law.

Larry Persily (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: State defends its right to cut nonexistent taxes

This from a state that has no property tax on homes or businesses, only on the oil industry.

Dr. Jay Butler, former chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, is seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccines

The COVID vaccines remain our strongest tool in combating the pandemic and helping us return to our lives and the things we love and cherish.

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: All votes matter

In the beginning, only property-holding white men could vote.

Cristen San Roman. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Is management of Cook Inlet catered to special interest groups?

If these fish are so at risk, why is BOEM able to move forward with lease sale 258?

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Grateful for the hidden ‘good’

Gratitude: Noun The state of being grateful; thankfulness. The state or quality… Continue reading

Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski. (Photo provided)
Point of View: What is Homer High School about?

What I consider Homer High’s strength is that we are a place for learning.

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. (courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Invent your future at UAA

At UAA we’re providing the tools to help students of all ages and skills chart a new course forward.

A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Vaccination is the still best protection from COVID-19

The Alaska State Medical Association encourages you to protect yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
The sad diminishment of Rep. Don Young

Young seems afraid to demand his party leader defend the dignity of the institution he loves.

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Alaska Voices: Restore our strong campaign donation limits

Without campaign spending limits, the ideal of one person, one vote is no longer really true.

The Final Redistricting Map approved for the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna area is seen on Nov. 9, 2021. (Map via
Alaska Voices: The Alaska Redistricting Board’s last-minute gerrymandering failed Alaska

Our Constitution outlines rules for a redistricting process designed to uphold public trust.