KENAI, Alaska — An Alaska resident has created a smartphone app designed to connect anglers and guides with each other and to a hub of local fishing information.
Jim Voss launched his app Alaska FishTopia this summer, aiming for it to be the central source of angling information on the Kenai Peninsula, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of Anchorage, the Peninsula Clarion reported Wednesday.
The app includes guide information, local events and the latest fish counts from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said Voss, a fishing guide and the owner of Alaska Boat Rental in Soldotna. The idea for the app was to have the vital information anglers need all in one spot, he said.
The app also hosts the fishing exchange tool, where anglers can post wanted spots on fishing trips and guides can post available seats on boats. This tool seeks to fill the place of what guides have largely been doing by word-of-mouth.
"If (guides) can reach an angler, somebody out there is willing to go fishing at some price," Voss said.
The Kenai Peninsula is a top Alaska tourism destination, with the blue-green waters of the Kenai River and its runs of Chinook, sockeye and coho salmon a draw for anglers. The peninsula's coastal communities also offer saltwater fishing opportunities, especially for halibut.
After the guide and angler connect through the tool and agree on a price, the app works similar to a short-term lodging service like Airbnb. Certain information is sent as the trip is booked.
Summer Lazenby, director of the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council, said a 2016 Alaska travel survey recorded 563,000 out-of-state visitors to the peninsula, with 22 percent taking part in sport fishing. That number, Lazenby said, did not account for the thousands of visitors from Anchorage and other Alaska cities who drive to the peninsula to fish.
Voss is continuing to tweak the app and add features. He is looking to expand the local events section to include more entertainment venues, he said. He is also rolling out premium memberships for guides and anglers, allowing more initial information and access to certain discounts.
Voss plans to expand the app to cover the entire state.