The Kenai River Women’s Classic wrapped up last week after two days of coho fishing and three days of networking events, which drew nearly 80 women from Alaska and around the country.
Held Sept. 6-8, the event is one of three conducted by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association to raise money for conservation efforts.
The Kenai River Classic, held Aug. 22-24, raised $90,000, and the Women’s Classic raised more than $110,000 this year for habitat restoration, aquatic education and fisheries research.
The group has rebranded as KRSA as it expands its advocacy efforts statewide rather than on a local level as it has in the past, beyond the river where the salmon spawn and to the ocean where they remain for much of their life cycle.
“KRSA has expanded its mission from singularly focusing on the Kenai River,” KRSA executive director Ricky Gease told Trade Only Today. “Our problems in the river occur, in part, because of issues that are going on in the ocean. Our fisheries playground really is bigger than the Kenai River. To reflect this expanded mission, we’ve changed our name to KRSA and we are taking on some of the state and national issues that impact healthy, sustainable fish returns.”
The group held the first Kenai River Juniors’ Classic Aug. 15. It gives access to children of active-duty military members who would otherwise not have an opportunity to fish.
“We’ve learned that it’s critical to save the river that we’ve loved to death,” Val Early, Alaska's first female drift boat guide. “It’s really encouraging to hear that it’s going to be a statewide advocacy program rather than just a local advocacy program.”
“The Women’s Classic is an incredible opportunity for women CEOs, industry and community leaders to come together to raise funds to support river habitat protection, conservation education efforts and advocacy outreach,” said Laurie Fagnani, Co-chair of the Women’s Classic and owner of the firm hired to create the membership video, “KRSA. Reel Alaska.”
KRSA executive director Gease hopes the tournament model will be adopted nationwide by regions seeking to fund conservation efforts.
This video describes the efforts.