Russell Fishing (The Kenai Peninsula) Announces Their Endorsement of "Catch and Release for Kenai Kings"

The future of the Kenai King is in our collective hands. All over the country, there are “catch and release fisheries” to protect a specific species. In fact, Rainbow trout on the Kenai is essentially one of those and due in part to “catch and release” the quantity and size of our Kenai rainbows are better than ever. In light of that, Catch and Release for Kings is their suggested protocol.

Anchorage, AK, February 23, 2013 --( Anyone who has been fishing the Kenai for many years has seen the numbers of returning fish decline. As with many endeavors, especially fishing, clients yearn for the “good ol days.” For some old timers, those days are gone. However, there is still a great opportunity to catch a Kenai king, maybe even a trophy of 40-90 lbs. The size of these fish are still consistently the largest in the world.

First, why do guests keep kings?
1. Bragging rights… a trophy! With today’s cameras, videos and smart phones, a picture is worth a thousand words. A clent's catch can be on Facebook and Twitter minutes after it comes to the side of the boat. They can take a photo of the fish being held in the water, enhance it to their liking and even have an artist rendering or fiberglass mount for the den. There are simple formulas for accurate weight estimates and of course it is always “rounded upwards.”

2. Meat for the table... King Salmon meat is excellent and everyone is encouraged to take some home. But, why not fish the Kasilof River for salmon for dinner and keep a king from that river? The Kasilof has an enhanced hatchery program that can sustain a “Kill” fishery. In fact, the limit is 5 per season. Moreover, most guests will have an opportunity to take home many pounds of sockeye (most people rank this #1 for taste), and halibut where there are less stringent restrictions.

Catch and release make sense, for the following reasons:

1. It is inevitable anyway. With slowly declining stocks of native fish, the fisheries managers will make that decision at some point in the future guest will throw it back, helping sustain the fishery long term, and continuing to enjoy a full day of fishing

3. Mortality rates for Kings caught on a single hook and then released, is less than 10%, so if fisherman and guide handle the fish properly, someone else on the river may even catch that fish again, therefore making a return of 20,000 migrating fish seem like many more. In fact, if everyone followed catch and release, everyone would benefit from this fact that individual fish can be caught multiple times.

4. More live fish, more eggs, more milt, more baby salmon, more fish in 5-7 years. Its easy to figure out that with 300 active Kenai guides and 1000+ fishermen a day during peak season, how quickly larger runs might occur.

Russell Fishing (thekenaipeninsula) and Alaska Hooksetters Lodge will continue to encourage Catch and Release for Kenai King salmon, but guests will never feel pressured to release a fish. It is their trip and their decision. In the “Good Ol Days” the guides would fish double half days and fish from 6 am to 6 pm. The guides encouraged guests to kill fish so the charter might end early and the guide could get a little rest.

Times have changed. The half day charter has mostly disappeared. An 8-9 hour full day charter is the norm. The guides get done at a reasonable hour and have time to clean their boats and equipment, gear up for the next day, get fuel, tie lures/rigs and filet fish that were kept.

Outiftters are in business because of guests and they want them to be happy with their charter and vacation. However, they also want them, their children and grandchildren to come back for many years, to catch a king...maybe one that was spawned by those fish that were released this year.
The Kenai Peninsula
Glenn Gilz