By Dave Atcheson
It was not uncommon to hear visiting fishers as well as my fellow Kenai Peninsula residents outwardly express wonder that, in of all places, there was not a TU Chapter here. After all, the Kenai Peninsula is one of the county’s premier destinations for anglers, and for those of us lucky enough to call it home a true fishing paradise. But finally, a growing number of area residents have banded together to form a new chapter, and one that is off to a promising start.
At a recent meeting, the first of the winter for the fledgling Kenai Peninsula Chapter of Trout Unlimited, President Branden Borneman gave an overview of all the projects the organization has been involved in since its inception. Forming just a year before, and being officially chartered by TU only last April, many of us, despite being involved in these activities, were surprised at all the chapter has done in its short life. The group’s most recent accomplishment was receiving a grant through the Western Trout Initiative that would aid in temperature monitoring on the southern Kenai Peninsula’s Anchor River. The chapter also teamed with the local Stream Watch Program, a group formed to provide river stewardship on the Kenai Peninsula, to remove a washed out metal bridge on Bishop Creek that was severely blocking fish passage.
Certainly the most entertaining event for the organization thus far was its first fundraiser. Last spring KPTU hosted the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T), the tour’s very first showing in the Kenai area. Over 150 fishing fanatics, many of them chapter members, attended and enjoyed catered food and drink, and bid on a variety of fishing-related items donated by local businesses and crafts-people. Another fun and fulfilling event was a class conducted at the annual summer kid’s fish camp, which was hosted by the Kenaitze Indian Tribe. Several members instructed youngsters on the finer points of both fly- and spin-casting, as well as imparting some of the basics of stream and lake ecology.
A group of TU chapter members from Cooper Landing also spearheaded the removal of a wayward 5000-pound dock that broke free from its mooring on the Kenai River and was found stranded downstream. In addition to the satisfaction found in doing a good turn for the river, members and were also rewarded when the owners of the dock, who were wintering outside of Alaska, made a generous donation to the local chapter. With all these accomplishments, and a winter of activities planned—including monthly meetings, casting and fly tying clinics, and the return of F3T—it’s looking like a bright future for TU on the Kenai Peninsula.