Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Release A Hog & Take Home A Trophy Program

The Kenai River is unique king salmon fishery. In terms of the size of the run it is not considered large, but the fish in the run are the largest in the world. Eight of the top ten king salmon caught on rod and reel have come off the Kenai. The crown jewel is Les Anderson's world record coming in at 97.4 lbs caught in 1985.

Over the past ten years the numbers of gigantic fish have decreased which has been of great concern to the sport fishing public. The oldest are the 5-year ocean fish and they typically account for 2-5% of the total return
The Kenai River Sportfish Association (KRSA) has acted on these concerns and created the Release A Hog program. KRSA will pay up to $800 for catching and releasing a 50" or longer Kenai River king salmon.

Here are the official rules for the Release A Hog program.

*participating king salmon must be caught between July 1st and July 31st only.
*Anglers must hold a valid fishing license.
*To qualify, angler must catch a release a trophy fish measuring 50" long or longer.
*An affidavit of the catch and release with the signature of the guide, the angler and one additional witness will be required.
*Fish will be verified with a photo of the fish in the net next to the yardstick in the water.
*The photo and affidavit must be delivered to KRSA office within 7 days of the date of the catch.
*A certificate will be awarded to the approved angler. Upon receiving a photo of the angler with his/her reproduction, and a copy of the paid taxidermist invoice, the angler will receive up to $800.
*Only one fish per year per angler can qualify for this program
*All guides and anglers must comply with ADGF&G regulations.
*Certificates expires 18 months after date of catch and release.

Pretty good deal. You get the thrill of fighting a Kenai king and you get to hang a replica on the wall for free or nearly free.

If you know me at all you know I can get side tracked and easily digress, so, allow me this moment to tell you a story about a potential Release A Hog. Nine years ago I was guiding a repeat client but instead of fishing with his family he decided to come with his college buddies. I explained to them the Release A Hog program and they all decided they wanted to be part of it if they caught a large king salmon. Fishing was slow but in the last half hour Don finally catches a fish. It was large, just over 50", and while it was in the net I asked him what he wanted to do. Without hesitatation he said, "BONK IT!" I get the fish in the boat, bonk it, and we take pictures and high fives are exchanged all around. Fifteen minutes later, after the adrenaline has subsided, Don asks how he can be part of the Release A Hog program. I told him it's called Release A Hog and not Bonk A Hog so if you want to get a replica made it will have to come out of his own pocket. The following year Don told me that he was caught up in the heat of the moment and he kept the fish because he wanted to be the top dog in his group of buddies. He's regretted that decision and in subsequent years has yet to catch another one over 50".

Ultimately it's up to you if you want to release a trophy salmon and I hold no ill will if you choose to keep it. But, there's no doubt that this is a great conservation program that allows more big fish to reach the spawning beds. Hundreds of anglers who have received replicas agree as well.


Anonymous said...

Hey Keifer,

I am exhausted from reading the rules for the release a Hog program, but it seems like a really good program. Was that person named Don whom I think it is? ( or is the proper word who?)Keep up the good writing!!!

Anonymous said...

Not sure which Don you're referring to but this Don was from New Mexico. Are we talking about the same one?