Unlicensed Kenai River fishing guide behind bars, loses boat
A man who guided Kenai River fishing trips without being properly licensed to do so will pay tens of thousands of dollars and lose the boat he used to carry clients, prosecutors said Friday.
A sentence including jail time against William “Buck” Hollandsworth was handed down last week, according to a statement from the state Office of Special Prosecutions.
The offenses date back to last year, when Hollandsworth guided fishing trips for “numerous paying anglers” without being licensed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or Alaska State Parks. Many of those trips involved fishing for king salmon, which remained tightly restricted this season amid poor salmon runs.
“In addition to illegally guiding, Hollandsworth allowed clients to fish with bait when the river was open only for fishing with a single unbaited hook, operated his unregistered sport fishing guide vessel after 6 p.m, and allowed a client to continue fishing after catching the daily limit of king salmon,” state officials wrote.
In July of 2017, park rangers joined wildlife troopers to serve a warrant seizing Hollandsworth’s aluminum Wooldridge boat, its trailer and all of its fishing gear and electronics. The boat was “full of out-of-state anglers” at the time, prosecutors said.
Hollandsworth was ultimately charged with three counts of permitting or aiding in violation of a law as a fishing guide, plus single counts of providing guiding services without registering with Fish and Game as well as State Parks, providing guiding services on the Kenai without a permit and operating a sport fishing vessel without a sticker.
When the seven-count case went to trial this June, a Kenai jury found Hollandsworth guilty on all counts.
“This is one of the only places on earth where residents can drive a short distance from their home and fish for large wild king salmon,” said Assistant Attorney General Andrew Peterson, Special Prosecutions’ chief. “That will only remain true if management is taken seriously and punishment for violating the regulations designed to ensure healthy populations are severe.”
In addition to the fine and forfeiture of the boat, trailer and electronics, Hollandsworth was ordered to serve 30 days in jail with 20 days suspended.
After his release, he will be placed on probation for a year during which he will not be allowed to fish – or “be in a boat on the Kenai River with persons that are fishing.”
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