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Thread: conflict on the upper Kenai

  1. #1
    Member wjackson's Avatar
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    Jul 2006

    Unhappy conflict on the upper Kenai

    Was on the upper Kenai today fishing with two buddies and had a run in with a few guys on a gravel bar.

    On the off chance those guys post here I would like to appologize up front to you if you feel I've stepped on your toes or wronged you in some way.

    There is a gravel bar I've been wanting to fish but its always busy so I just float by. Today looked like my chance as ther were anly a few people on it and they were all on one side. Leaving the whole other side to land the raft and for all of us too fish. As soon as the boat hit the beach here comes the smart --- remarks and comments about being in their spot and how long are we gonna be there poaching in their hole, and so on and so on. Given the polite manner I was treated I decided to stay a while. My conscience finally got the better of me so we moved on. The whole while trading remarks with the gentleman from the gravel bar.
    I guess I'm just hard headed but I dont see what the rub was, I thought the river was for all to fish and float. I realize that no one likes to be "pushed out" or crowded out of "their" spot but that was hardly the case. There was more than enough room for all of us.

    I've learned a lesson today. And will not repeat the same mistake. I'll simply wait my turn for a chance at "the gravel bar". The altercation with overpossesive people is simply not worth ruining a perfect day on an otherwise perfect place.


  2. #2

    Default probably could have given more space?

    One of the things I have always liked about fishing is the solitude it has brought. I pull out a topo, find where a good creek or river is a ways from the road and hike in. With salmon fishing, which I am fairly new to, I have had to adjust my thinking and realize that great spots are sometimes right next to the road. This season I have spent more time fishing in the presence of new people than all my other fishing years combined. I have even had some fun with it -- getting an applause by a nicely landed fish, for example. Still though, the Kenai is big and plenty of spots to stop at without disturbing someones privacy and experience, so I can see how someone might get a little urked by your stopping there. Again, I have a pretty skewed idea of what I like in a fishing spot -- the amount of space I need. Trout and dolly fishing seems different to me than salmon fishing, in this regard. Trout utilize a lot of different aspects of the river, therefore more places for fisherman to stop and fish without crowding, so even though that was a nice hole you have been eyeing, personally, I wouldn't have crowded the guys.

    All rivers have different ethics on this subject, so I am curious to hear what more experienced Kenai fisherman have to say.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Hard to say not being there.

    Most of the places up there are plenty big for two parties to fish. I am not sure I know you but I think I know every wjackson in soldotna/sterling, and the ones I know would not crowd anybody. It sounds to me like another typical "big city" encounter.I spend quite a bit of time on the water and have been seeing more and more of these, and most of the time they are from los anchorage.
    Now I dont want to start a big fight here, just stating what I have seen. I have also met alot of nice folks from Anc. while on the river. I just have not had any encounters with locals. And I dont even fish from the bank, I'm a plug puller, but if I go to the bank for lunch or to stretch the legs is where I have been chewed out for "encroaching". I promise you I have'nt gt chewed out for very long though!

  4. #4
    Member Sierra Hotel's Avatar
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    Feb 2007

    Default Input from Los Anchorage . . .

    Spending 20-30 days a year on the upper river has shown me that when the reds are in, people's "personal space" shrinks to allow for the crowding on the more favorable spots. Once the rat race slows down, people tend to expand their space such that they don't tolerate people coming in and "shortholing" or crowding them.

    Having said that, I know that if someone is on the bank fishing in a spot I want, I bypass that spot and look for another (tough on weekends during red season). I know I don't like folks popping in next to me when the rest of the river is open, so I try and make sure that I give the same courtesy.

    It's been my experience that most of the folks that don't recognize this "personal space" concept are weekend rafters (the same folks who don't know how to use a boat launch/takeout. . . . not the drift boaters. There have been exceptions, but this has been my experience . . .
    Last edited by Daveinthebush; 09-11-2007 at 08:47. Reason: deleated euphenism

  5. #5


    From your comments it sounds as the gravel bar had the capacity to hold a good number of anglers. If that was the case you have every right to fish the un-occuppied spots. Bad fishing ettiquette on the other anglers part to give you a hard time. Also on a busy weekend most of the good spots could be taken, so going down river to another spot may not be always be an option.

  6. #6

    Talking Los Anchorage......

    To say most of the bad people come from Anchorage is as ignorant as saying the fewest good people come from Kenai. I call it the good/bad ratio. Depending on your tolerance level, for every X number of people you encounter you will be sure to meet Mr. Bad.
    Last edited by Daveinthebush; 09-11-2007 at 08:49. Reason: Language
    We never really grow up, we only learn
    how to act in public

  7. #7
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Valdez, Alaska

    Default Guys

    Please keep it clean with the euphenisms and such.

    And try not to make general comments about groups of people either. Bunching others into the same profile never works and just irritates those that feel they are not part of the group being called out.

    Vietnam - June 70 - Feb. 72
    Cancer from Agent Orange - Aug. 25th 2012
    Cancer Survivor - Dec. 14th 2012

  8. #8
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States


    I fish the upper kenai every weekend june through october. During red season it is nuts. But for the Bows and Dolly's I have never had any problems. There are some very large bars on the river that can support many fisherman with at least 100 feet between each one. I have ben crowded out before but never said as word to anyone due to the face that this time of the year i find the river just totally relaxes me, That and the fact i figure who ever crowds me will get thier due in bad fish Karma
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  9. #9


    I just happened to be on this trip and have a couple of things to add. If thats ok. To start with, i will admit without regret that we are novices to the upper kenai thing, and probably should have drifted past that peticular 1 acre gravel bar and left it to the guys that had hiked the 200 yards to fish. "Our Bad". Here is the problem; if the gentelmen that had been fishing the 1/100th of the peticular gravel bar had walked over in a curtious manner and said "hey guys, we just came all the way from anch hoping to find some solitude and dont have the means to get a boat and would love to fish this bank, and dont really have any options as to where else to go" We would have been out of there so fast, they would have wondered if we were ever really even there. The point is that they handled it completely wrong. I and wjackson will not only bend over backward to help someone else enjoy the upper kenai, but will at no cost make someone elses trip unenjoyable if at all possible. I agree that making "anchorage" a group is a bad idea. There are people from all over the world that dont know how to properly address a situation. Looking back on it now, i personally would not have handled the situation any differently, for one reason and one reason only; because of the way that they handled it. Another point that should be brought up, wich i was not witness to, is the fact that only a couple of days prior to this, wjackson, frustrated and trying to learn how to be successful on this strech of water, asked another fisherman for advice and was told to go and figure it out on his own. Come on people the bead secret is out and there is no way to hide it anymore, if someone asks you what bead is hitting; why not just tell them and help to keep the upper kenai a wonderful experience? Lets not let it turn into a Madison River, or Little Blackfoot. I promise you that if you ever ask wjackson or myself what we are hitting them on, we will not only tell you but will probably give you a handfull of them to make sure you have the right ones.

  10. #10

    Default No reason to be grumpy when fishing

    I think people get too into ethics. Fishing is not an elitist pastime, it's fishing.
    If someone is that grumpy, calling people names when they are fishing, fighting over a gravel bar, and generally not enjoying themselves, then they are probably taking their beautiful surroundings and blessings for granted and could spend thier time better by working. Just my opinion.
    If anyone ever sees me in a bad mood when fishing please tell me to go home. So far I don't think it's happened though.
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

  11. #11


    Perfectly well said Wildog!

  12. #12
    New member
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    Apr 2006

    Default Ditto from the Big Blackfoot

    I am reading this where I was "brung-up" in Montana. Ironically I fished the Big Blackfoot the other day. During our four mile float I did not see another fisherman. My only concern was keeping my 81 year old dad from slipping on rocks.

    Montana no longer has "the rivers of my youth" - a statement from "A River Runs through it", but I have never seen competition for space like I do in Alaska. I think too many fishermen are testosterone-driven-big fish junkies and need to slow down and embrace the short but amazing summers in AK.

  13. #13
    Member Danny Boy's Avatar
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    Oct 2006


    As crowded as the Upper has been, you shouldn't feel bad sharing some space. I fished all three days during Labor Day; on Sunday my buddy and I worked the island on the first right bend below the huge downed tree below the power line. I lost an absolute toad after a 10 minute battle and we caught plenty of fish. During the same day, on numerous gravel bars we had boats land within ten yards of ours and I didn't say a word to anybody; I understand that during this time of the year, one has no choice but to share. Such is life.

    So on Monday, the first few gravel bars were pretty full and I figured we'd head back to the island rather than forcing others into less fishing space. On the lower part of the island/gravel bar, I saw a boat on the bottom of the island with a guide helping his clients on the left side. I decided there was enough room and we could share the island and fish the right portion of the river after landing on the top side. As I started to pull the sticks, the guide walked over to the other side when he saw us coming and when I landed he was standing right where the boat touched land. He asked how we were (I knew what was coming) and I told him we'd enjoyed some decent fishing the day before. He asked, "Are you down for the weekend?" Rather than be an *****, I informed him I was up from Kenai and it was the third day in a row I'd fished the upper. He then proceded to give a speech on etiquette and told me there was plenty of river. I informed there were two sides to the island and the river was pretty packed. Perhaps he hadn't fished the day before.

    I love the Upper Kenai just as much if not more than most. Passed out some beads last weekend, told people what was working for us when the fishing was good and asked others what they were hitting on when fishing slowed down. Everybody offered insight. This isn't an attempt to bash guides, but I found it disheartening that this guy could imply that I employ no etiquette when fishing. With Jim's more crowded than ever, all parties (guides, non-guides) need to understand the concept of sharing; the upper isn't what it used to be nor will it ever provide the sanctitiy in September it did years ago.

    We fished the gravel bar for much less time than I wanted as I figured we could move on and get away from the guy as I began to fume. I should've asked to see his drivers's license to see where he's from or if he'd fished the day before, but I'm not a confrontational cat and want others to enjoy the resource just as much as I do, regardless of the numebr of boats. And the numbers have been pretty huge.

    I feel for the guys who walk in and fish, but everybody drives to that area whether they walk in or float down. Don't feel bad about hopping onto a gravel bar if it's not completely packed, if there's a bunch of boats on the river, of course. If there's a smaller number of boats on a given day, I'll pass a gravel bar so as not to crowd others. But, when it's as packed as it was, you gotta except that it's not going to be yours and yours alone.

  14. #14
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Eagle River/ Juneau


    Nothing like the time I was fishing against the bank for bows in the russian and this kid and his grandparents walked right where I had been casting, I scolded them, especially because there was a perfectly good trail on the bank of the river..

    Or the time I was fishing in this hole that was at least 5 feet deep and this guy decides to start crossing with his kid so I ask him to not cross where I'm fishing (not that his kid wasn't gonna float away) he gets all mad and asks if I'm serious that his walking right over the fish that I'm working (couple bows sitting feeding) will spook them...

    The key courtesy on the river is to not spook rainbows when people are fishing them, as in don't go where people are fishing. If you stopped on the gravel bar upstream from them and sat and waited and not tried to cork them you were in the right, if you floated up to them and started fishing then you should have been yelled at... Sounds like you were fine and those guys were just being annoying
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  15. #15



    What were they hitting on? I will PM you my address so I have a handful of the right ones, ok?


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