Harder Exams for Area Fishing Guides license As Coast Guard Makes New Rules


An upcoming course at the Southwest Alaska Vocational and Education Center will help prospective fishing guides get ready for a Coast Guard exam required to get a “six-pack” operator’s license.

But area lodge owners say recent rule changes by the U.S. Coast Guard have made it the process of getting that license more difficult.

Nanci Morris Lyon owns the Alaska Sportsman’s Bear Trail Lodge, and she teaches the Bristol Bay Guide Academy, a weeklong summer course that trains young people from the region to be fly-fishing guides.

About 15 of Lyon’s students have gone on to become licensed guides, which until last year meant they had to log 180 eight-hour days on freshwater before taking a test to get their Coast Guard license.

But recently, Lyon says, the Coast Guard has doubled that sea-time requirement and now requires guides to log time on each body of water where they’ll be running boats.

“Which is really the worst of both worlds for the Academy students, because it’s going to take them a long time to receive that certification.”

The certification the Coast Guard now wants Western Alaska guides to have is called the Restricted Operator Uninspected Passenger Vessel (ROUPV) license, commonly known as the “six-pack” or six-passenger license.

The upcoming SAVEC class is February 23-24. Lyon says it will be very valuable in helping guides get prepared for the Coast Guard test, but only for those who have already logged most of their sea-time.

The course is fully funded for watershed residents. For registration information call 246-4600, or email annette@savec.org.