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Alaska Fish Factor: Getting Your Fishing License Just Got Easier

16 March 2015
 Alaska Fish Factor: Laine Welch Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska’s seafood industry for print and broadcast since 1988. She also has worked ‘behind the counter’ in wholesale and retail seafood businesses in Alaska and Cape Cod, MA. Laine lives in Kodiak, Alaska.

US - Print your licenses at home and go fishing! The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game’s revamped Online Store is the go to place for all fishing (and hunting) licenses and it now offers two new features.

“Fishermen, both sport and commercial, can now print their licenses at home. They can purchase it online, immediately print it and go out fishing,” said Michelle Kaelke, Financing and Licensing Supervisor for the department.

“They can buy it before they go out to the fishing grounds, or if they’re traveling from Seattle or wherever, they can have everything ready for when they head up to Alaska,” she added.
Another first: printing out multiple licenses.

“Now you can buy for your whole family in one transaction, with different options,” Kaelke explained. “One can have a fishing and a hunting license, or a commercial crew license, and one can just have a sport fish license or a big game tag.”

The print and go licenses will also be a huge plus for Alaska seafood processors.

“They will buy their crew member licenses and they’ve had to do it one at a time, or they mail us paper applications,” Kaelke said. “So now they can do it right from their office and print all their licenses and give them to their crew and off they go.”

All transactions are followed up by an email with licenses attached for future use or printings. The print at home procedure also is the same for sport fish guides and anglers, hunting, trapping, or getting king salmon or duck stamps.

The department knows people will appreciate the easy new system, Kaelke said, adding that she does too

“Getting this information right away, we can know what our license sales are, and we don’t have to sit and enter paper licenses into our system. That can be really difficult because people don’t always have the best handwriting,” she said with a laugh. “Now we can immediately have the statistics, and it’s far more accurate and we can quickly get it out to our managers.”

Coming soon: electronic license printing setups for vendors across the state and perhaps, licenses to go.

“We’re hoping that the legislature this year will give us the ability to allow people to carry licenses on their cell phone and mobile devices,” Kaelke said.

Find the online store at ADF&G’s home page or at

Call for future fishing guides - A few openings remain for students who want to get schooled on a river. About one dozen students are accepted each year by the Bristol Bay River Academy to participate in its unique to Alaska, place-based curriculum that teaches youths aged 14 to 24 how to make the grade in the guided sport fish business.

Now in its seventh year, the free, week long course teaches students the basics of fly fishing, along with customer service skills and the realities and demands of the guiding and hospitality business out in the Bay. A third part of the curriculum is river ecology and what keeps trout and salmon healthy.
The training rotates each year throughout the Bristol Bay region and this summer will take place at the Kulik Lodge in Katmai National Park.

So far 58 students have graduated from the Academy and many have gone on to good jobs as sport fish guides.

“Several of our students have worked multiple seasons in lodges in Bristol Bay; it is a great opportunity and perfect fit for many of these young people,” said Nelli Williams, program coordinator for Trout Unlimited, which sponsors the Academy along with a host of local supporters.

For decades, fishing guides were brought in by lodge owners from other states, usually college students. Now, the local guides are the most requested, Williams said.

“There is so much value in recruiting locally,” she said. “They know the rivers in and out. They know that July on the Kvichak can be as cold and nasty as in October. So there is a lot of benefit, both from the job opportunities for local young folks as well as the businesses that are thriving out there.”

Registration deadline for this summer is April 3rd. (

Get your fish art on! A nationwide fish art program invites kids to illustrate and write about the importance of conservation for their state fish, which in Alaska is the Chinook salmon.

“I like to encourage Alaska kids to submit the Chinook, but they are welcome to submit any fish on the official state fish list,” said Katrina Mueller, Fisheries Outreach Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska.

Kids in grades K-12 can submit their art, which must feature fish drawn in its natural habitat. A new category this year – Invader Crusader – includes drawings of invasive species.

“The size has to be 9 x 12, but they can use any medium. We had one student submit a stained glass entry last year that was really cool, and we have had water colors, pencil, pen, and paint. They can get creative with how they depict the fish (or invader),” she explained.

The Mighty Minnows entries for kids from kindergarten to 3rd grade require only an an art piece; students from 4th to 12th grade must include an essay that goes along with their art. Mueller said the winning entries get a lot of recognition.

“The first place state and international winners of the art and essay competition get invited with their families and teachers to an annual expo, where all the winning art is displayed. They call the winners up on stage and recognize them and give them an award, some prizes, and a fishing rod and reel. And then their art work is featured on the USFWS website,” Mueller said.

This is Alaska’s 4th year participating in the 17 year state fish art program, with a chance to be the first ever national winner! Entries are due by March 31st.

Halibut scholarships – The International Pacific Halibut Commission funds several Merit Scholarships to support undergraduate university, technical college, and other post-secondary education. The fund is targeted to Canadian and U.S. students connected to the halibut fishery and industry. The scholarships are for $2,000 per year for four years. Find applications for fall 2015 at the IPHC website, or call Tamara Briggie at (206) 634-1838 (ext. 7660). Deadline to apply is June 30.

‘but’s up! Alaska’s 2015 halibut season opened on March 14 and runs through November 7. The catch to be shared by more than 2,000 Alaska longliners increased 6.5% this year to 21.2 million pounds. The sablefish (black cod) fishery runs concurrently with halibut and also is harvested by the longline fleets. That catch quota this year is 10,522 metric tons, similar to last year. 

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