when I read the KSRA petition that was discussed today by the BOF regarding the late run Kenai kings. It said that the set netters (thats me) needed to be kept out of the water so that the kings could reach their spawning grounds. Spawning grounds? They should have said that the set netters should have been kept out of the water so that the kings could reach our (guides) fishing area (yes, I'm aware that there is no king fishing right now)!
If I were a cattle rancher, would I harvest my best bull and cow? No, I'd keep them for my breeding stock. The in river user rule that allows keeping a king over 55" inches is just killing off the genetics of that "hog" king. Even that huge mule deer buck hanging on your wall probably got to reproduce multiple times before being shot. The big kings don't ever get that chance.
There will always be the debate that a big king was one that stayed out a year longer and therefore its bigger. Or it fed better than the rest. I'd offer this to snuff out that argument. I'm 6'1" and my wife 5'9". Genetically, we assume we'd have big kids regardless of whether or not they ate 3 meals a day of junk food or a well balanced diet. Our 3 teenage boys were all in the top 10% of their percentile for age/height/weight every year because of their genetics not for any other reason! Stop killing big kings and the big kings will return! Stop fishing over the top of the spawning beds and the kings will return!
If you look at in river pressure, you can't ignore the increased usage. Comm fish has been limited entry since 1974, in that their are the same number of participants then as now. Our king catch was nearly the same in recent years vs data from the late 70's. In the last 30 yrs, the guide numbers have increased to between 300-400 (Ricky G recently mentioned in an article that over 300 guides were being affected by the king closure) and these are participants fishing right over the spawning beds! Yes, comm guys catch kings but in the same proportion as we always have. What has changed? In river pressure over the spawning beds and killing of large kings.
Everyone needs to help here. Us Comm guys are all or none. We fish or we don't. We don't have any step down measures. Guides have lots of opportunities if one fishery is shut down. They can hit the Kasilof or go further down the peninsula, they can fish reds/slivers/pinks, they can fish the salt etc. All I know is, we've been singled out as the only user group to bear the entire burden of king conservation this year (guides got 19 days to fish so don't go there and the Kenai convieninently went C&R the day after the Kenai Classic).