Slammin’ salmon: scores of sockeyes stampede the Kenai

• ADF&G extends Kenai dipnet fishery to 24 hours a day

Sean Pearson
Homer Tribune


Hear that?
That, my friend, is the deafening roar of 2.3 million sockeye salmon stampeding through the mouth of Kenai River.
Or perhaps it’s the din of Anchorage and Valley-based dip netters motoring their way south for a chance to get in on the big haul.
Maybe it’s both.
As of 11 p.m. Monday, the Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery will be open 24 hours per day through 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, July 31. T
he Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced it would extend the hours of the fishery after late-run Kenai River sockeye salmon numbers exceeded 2.3 million fish.

Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Fish and Game - Schools of sockeyes fight their way upstream to return to their spawning grounds.

Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Fish and Game –
Schools of sockeyes fight their way upstream to return to their spawning grounds.

According to a department press release, in-season indicators have ADF&G projecting “a run size in excess of 2.3 million late-run Kenai River sockeye salmon” The department reportedly “anticipates the optimal escapement goal of 700,000 – 1.4 million sockeye salmon will be achieved.”
The area of the Kenai River open to personal-use fishing remains the same.
If you haven’t yet packed up a picnic lunch, strapped a dipnet to the top of your car and traveled north for a little dip netting fun with the family, your perpetual procrastination may soon be rewarded. Even as you read this, those raucous reds are, no doubt, coursing upstream, combating the currents as they return home to spawn—and die.
You can stop the madness.
Sure, the whole dipnet concept is still a bit difficult for some folks on the Outside to understand. It’s kind of like trying to explain how it’s OK to eat roadkill up here.
Two words: Moose stroganoff.
Those from the Lower 48 need not worry about the complexities of dipnetting, however, as only Alaska residents can participate in the  fishery.
Yes, it’s true: If you stand in the mouth of a river and stick a big net into the water, fish will swim into it.
Nobody said they were smart.
Those with a dipnetting history that dates back to the turn of the century will tell you that things weren’t nearly as easy in the “old days.”
There were no fancy dipnets with shiny steel frames and colorful hand grips. Back then, dipnetters had to MacGyver their tools of the trade with things like leftover crutches and carefully bent conduit. And fastening the actual net to the frame was accomplished with an Alaska staple: duct tape.
The dipnet doesn’t have to be pretty; turns out the fish don’t really care.
And, interestingly, anecdotal research has indicated that dipnets made with PVC pipe will be ineffectual, as the apparatus is too light, and merely floats on the surface of the water. (The fish aren’t THAT stupid.)
Not surprisingly, adding rocks to the PVC pipe in an attempt to make it heavier will not prove successful, as well. In the end, perhaps it’s better to leave complicated fish things like this to the professionals.
If you are an Alaska resident who would like to try personal-use dip netting, more information is available by calling the Department of Fish and Game office in Soldotna at 262-9368, or the Kenai/Kasilof dipnetting hotline at 267-2512.
A complete description of the area open to dipnetting, along with harvest limits and permit requirements, can be found in the 2013 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulation Summary booklet.

Rod and reelers
If you happen to be the kind of angler who would rather use a hook and line instead of wrestling move to catch your fish, you are in luck as well.
On Saturday, ADF&G increased the sport fishing bag and possession limit for salmon 16 inches or longer, except for king, pink and coho salmon, in the Kenai River downstream of Skilak Lake, to six per day, 12 in possession.
This includes the flowing waters of the Kenai River from its mouth, upstream to the ADF&G regulatory marker located at the outlet of Skilak Lake.

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Posted by on Jul 24th, 2013 and filed under Outdoors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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