KENAI - When the reds come in, businesses that cater to anglers see green.
July generally brings a hearty group of Alaskans to the Kenai and Kasilof rivers' personal-use fisheries to pull in their limit of sockeye salmon. The result is a gold mine for area businesses selling merchandise for dipnetting.
"I think it's more important to the businesses in Soldotna than king fishing," said Terry Rahlfs, Fred Meyer store director.
Since 1998, the number of personal-use fishing permits distributed has grown to more than 17,500 fishermen, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, And some families fished both the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, said Fish and Game assistant area management biologist Pat Shields.
Doug Jung, manager of the Kenai Safeway, said his store has sold a tremendous number of resident licenses in July and has increased its sales from last year.
"Incredibly, it picks up this time of year," Jung said. "As compared to last year, we've done as good or better. Especially with Kmart gone, we're doing more licenses."