When you deal with the thousands that swim, the hundreds that pursue, and the highways that connect, you are all bound to meet. In Alaska, this event is known as "combat fishing". There are few places on Earth where the variables combine and create this occurrence any more intense then at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers. Local residents know the unwritten rules of this and other areas, but the out-of-towner does not. To those of you who are not in the know, here are some considerations.

1. EQUIPMENT Combat Zone fishing requires stout tackle. It is not an area where you use a loose drag, light line, and moderate pole. Instead, everything needs to be beefed up so that you literally can "horse-in" your catch as immediately as you can. This is done so that your running fish does not tangle other anglers, and in so doing allows you to reach reach quick limits so that others can have a chance.

2. ACCESSMENT When you walk into the zone, scout around. By walking up or downstream from where you walk in, you might find less crowds. If this does not suit you, then check the catch of those in the zone and see who is about to leave. You can step in right after they step out, and communication is suggested. If this still doesn't suit you, then seek the least area of density and wade right on in.

3. TECHNIQUE Know what you are doing before you crash a tight line of anglers. This can be just as simple as observing what others do, and then applying that knowledge to your cast. Amazingly, many anglers work quite well in this harmony of the hundreds.

Along the way, or once into the zone, here are some Don'ts and Do's:

DON'T: take someone's spot who is playing a fish, landing a fish, or returning to the immediate bank in support of his fishery / cast across the lines of others / cut someone elses line unless you can't untangle it / litter / discard any fishing line into the water or bank / leave any fish entrails on the bank / play catch-and-release in the zone / violate any rules by ADF&G

DO: return any lure to your fellow angler that you might be forced to cut / reel-in and step aside as anglers play their fish through you / assist others

I don't profess to be the expert on all this, but if you are not in the know, these unwrittens will help to make things go better for you and those around you...

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