The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge is looking for applications from fishing guides to work in the Uganik River for the next five years. 

Since 2000, the refuge has only allowed a limited number of guides to apply for guiding permits for four rivers: the Ayakulik, Dog Salmon/Frazer, Uganik and Little rivers. 

“Through a public process, those rivers were deemed to have a potential congestion issue, with too many outfitters accessing those specific rivers,” KNWR Lead Ranger Hans Klausner said. 

Some are popular because they’re home to certain runs of fish. Others are closer to town and more easily accessible. 

“There’s kind of a calculus for each one, and why each river was identified as a river that should have at least commercial use managed,” Klausner said. 

Guides can bring a maximum of six guests to the area at a time. There are also some additional rules in September, when silver salmon are running and demand increases, such as no overnight camping.

The other 85 or so drainages that support self-sustaining populations are open to unlimited participation from guided tours. 

Anyone can access any river in the refuge without a guide, except one. The O’Malley River near Karluk Lake remains closed to unguided fishing due to unusually high concentration of bears in the area. Staff at KNWR are working on a review for that area, Klausner said, but it’s closed to unguided anglers for now. Anyone who owns property within the area can still access it, however. 

The Uganik offering is out of sync with the other three rivers because the decision to award the permit was appealed last year. 

The first permits were offered in 2000 and expired at the end of 2009. The refuge offered an updated prospectus, which attracted 31 applications and 14 individual permits were awarded. 

Those permits expired at the end of 2019, and 19 applications were submitted for the next period. Ten permits were awarded, but the Uganik offerings were appealed and remanded back to the station.

A one-year extension was granted to the current Uganik permit holders for the 2020 season and the Uganik offerings were redrafted and advertised this month. Permits issued under this prospectus will be valid until the end of 2026. This will cause the Uganik offerings to be out of schedule with the Ayakulik, Dog Salmon/Frazer and Little River offerings by one year.

“We’re looking forward to seeing sport fishing guides with good business plans applying for one of these rare permits,” Klausner said.

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