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Logan Tuttle
Sean Boulay, left and James Bridgeman fillet their catch on Monday at the mouth of the Kenai River. Their plan is to smoke the fish and send it out as Christmas presents.

Dipnetters enjoy record run

Posted: July 19, 2011 - 12:00am  |  Updated: July 19, 2011 - 8:45am

Like mom always said, “Get ‘em while they’re hot.”

That seems to be the situation on the Kenai Peninsula lately as sockeye salmon make their run to the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers. Roads were jammed with vehicles and boats as dipnetters were anxious to get to the water.

“This is the most people we’ve ever seen down here for the dipnet fishery,” Kenai Police Department Chief Gus Sandahl said. “I never saw as many people as I did this weekend.”

From the slow opening weekend, the tides have seemed to turn. This weekend the fish were hot, and there seems to be no indication of the run slowing down.

“It was excellent starting Saturday afternoon-evening through yesterday (Sunday) and today (Monday),” Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist Robert Begich said. “The sportfishing’s excellent in the lower 30-plus miles of the river. It looks like today’s (Monday) number will be a good number as well.”

The number Begich is referring to is the index number that Fish and Game uses to track the fish during their runs. The number for late-run sockeye Sunday was more than 230,000, which broke the existing record of 217,000 set in 1987.

Dipnetters were still out in force Monday despite high winds and waves.

Sean Boulay was dipnetting in the mouth of the Kenai River last Sunday for the season opener, and said he only got four fish. Monday, he said he was able to grab 16 fish between him and his friend James Bridgeman. Both Boulay and Bridgeman are from Anchorage.

“Going from four fish in one tide to 16, that’s a pretty good improvement,” Boulay, 30, said.

Bridgeman, 31, said they try to use as much of the fish as possible.

“We’re getting our Christmas presents right now,” Bridgeman said. “We send out smoked salmon, it’s a good way to save money.”

Despite being from Anchorage, Boulay works in Big Lake where he manages a group assisted living home.

“I live in Anchorage, work in Big Lake, and play in Kenai,” he said.

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lilypad444
9
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lilypad444 07/19/11 - 11:10 am
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Personal Use Fishery??

Maybe I misunderstood, but isn't the dipnet fishery for personal use only? For Alaskans only? It's disappointing to hear that this guy is degrading our beaches and taking away from people who use this as their livelihood so that he doesn't have to buy Christmas presents.

TheKenaiKid
126
Points
TheKenaiKid 07/19/11 - 04:45 pm
0
0
Man...

How about something on how the commercial fisheries have been? This is still the Kenai paper, right? Or maybe what the large escapements mean from a biological perspective? Or speculation from biologists on why the run might be so large this year? How was the run originally predicted to turn out? Is this just one big push of fish, or the front end of a massive school? Are there any emergency orders/openings planned? Have there been any already? How about actual numbers from the city, rather than a cop scratching his head? And on and on...

And was it intentional to only include quotes from Anchorage people wanting to ship fish Outside? I wouldn't say I'm angry with this story, but I would guess that others aren't so understanding.

alaskanni
55
Points
alaskanni 07/19/11 - 05:20 pm
0
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intentional?

Yep, it was probably intentional to use only Anchorage people's qoutes. Gotta get some hate going you know.

keeneye
10
Points
keeneye 07/20/11 - 03:02 am
0
0
personal use

The dip net fishery is intended for personal use. As long as they do not sell it, it's their business. I do agree with lilypad444, it is disheartening to see the fishery used like this-Christmas presents? In retrospect, I would not want to keep those sunburned fish either!

lilypad444
9
Points
lilypad444 07/20/11 - 08:41 am
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Actually I did call F&G

Actually I did call F&G yesterday, and they agreed that this is illegal.

kenai-king
232
Points
kenai-king 07/20/11 - 09:27 am
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Fish Pigs

It won't be long and this will go away just like the King fishing. If this were a true personal use fishery they wouldn't need 45 fish for a family of 4.

RoadClosedToKenai
24
Points
RoadClosedToKenai 07/20/11 - 09:53 am
0
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You should see FedEx

Nonstop fish boxes rolling into FedEx. I doubt it is Alaskans mailing fish to themselves.
The land fill in Anchorage (Eagle River) is going to be quite ripe the next few weeks from all of the freezer burnt fish getting thrown out from last years dipnet adventure.

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 07/20/11 - 09:16 pm
0
0
They're doing it Wrong!

These guys tick me off to no end! I'm a dipnetter (and a local at that), but I actually read and follow the rules as well as practice proper fish handling.

1) PU fish are for ONLY the IMMEDIATE FAMILY of the Head of Household on the permit. You may NOT give the fish away as "Christmas presents"!!! (unless you're giving them to your spouse and kids... oh, that will be a fun package to unwrap)

2) I feel sorry for anyone who may be unfortunate enough to try some of that salmon right there, unless they like a lot of "crunch" in their seafood. You should NEVER clean a fish on the beach! That meat is ruined with sand and all sorts of contaminants and bacteria from the filthy beach environment. Where's the clean water supply? You can't clean a fish without clean water. Fact.

3) Tails of PU fish must be clipped. There's another batch of tickets rotting in the sand right there.

4) Is that big pile of orange salmon flesh lying in the sand behind them the finished product? How about salvaging ALL the meat you knuckleheads!!!

5) Just to respond to another comment... a family of 4 can take up to 55 fish. Do the math, that means they get to eat the greatest food on the planet at about 55 dinners this winter. That only leaves 310 dinners to shop for, but then maybe they'll get a moose, too. Try comparing the meat from a moose (and a family of 4 can technically take 4 moose) to the meat from 55 salmon. Oh, and don't forget the 8 halibut they can take in one day. You'll get more meat out of 8 butts than you'll get from those 55 salmon. It's not nearly as much fish as the anti-dipnetting whiners claim it to be.

6) Have yet to actually see or hear of anyone taking "last year's salmon" to the dump. I've never taken a single fish to the dump in my 33 years of living in Soldotna. We use every last bit and nearly always run out before the next season rolls around. The "freezer burnt dump" story is pure urban legend.

7) Here's your salmon care tip for the day... When you first scoop that salmon from the river (by net or line, makes no difference) slice the gills on BOTH sides immediately. Put the fish on a wire stringer and put it back in the water, immediately. After the fish bleeds out and dies, (clip tails if PU) take them *whole* and place them in a cooler full of clean ice and saltwater to get them chilled, immediately. Transport them away from the beach (don't forget to fill out your permit if PU before concealing or transporting the fish). Now, clean the fish at a clean location on a clean cutting board or table with a clean water supply. Get your cleaned fish wrapped and frozen ASAP. The best method is to freeze, water glaze, and then vacuum pack.

I wonder if the newspaper folks ever thought about doing an article on proper fish handling and processing???

lilypad444
9
Points
lilypad444 07/21/11 - 10:15 am
0
0
Great comment Joat. I agree,

Great comment Joat. I agree, they should be doing an article on regs instead of enforcing bad behavior. I have to respectfully disagree with you though on the 55 fish=55 dinners, who eats a whole salmon for dinner? Even a family of four? I think the limits are excessive and that's why people abuse it. Thank you for the tips.

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 07/21/11 - 03:39 pm
0
0
Limits Debate

This will never be solved to the liking of everyone. PU limits will remain a compromise and a source of debate for as long as the fishery exists.

That said, my family only has two people and we're allowed up to 35 fish. With 2 people, one average sockeye fillet (1/2 of a fish) is enough to make one dinner. Thus, 35 fish could potentially feed us about 70 dinners. That still leaves 295 days that we have to find something else to eat (which is fine as we don't want to eat salmon for every single meal).

Yes, there are sometimes left overs from a larger fillet. Those always turn into a lunch the next day. But then I don't use everything for just a straight up dinner either. After the fillets have been frozen for at least 30 days, I'll pull out about 4 fish and smoke them. They are then vac-packed and put in the fridge as smoked salmon has to be used over the next 2-3 weeks.

When the next fishing season is approaching, I'll take stock of what's left in the freezer and adjust meal plans accordingly, or smoke a larger batch, or run a load through the canner. In any case, nothing gets wasted. I believe the majority of PU dipnetters manage their food stores in similar fashion.

I firmly believe that the starting limits imposed are just fine, at least up to a point. There should probably be an upper limit though. You can start with 25 and add 10 for each member, but I would limit that to a maximum household size of 5 or 6 people and only count children who are at least 8 years old when figuring that out. Just as an example, a couple having a newborn, plus a 2 & 4 year old are not going to need an additional 30 fish for such youngsters. A family with a teenager will certainly need the extra.

Daryl Palmer
0
Points
Daryl Palmer 07/25/11 - 11:43 am
0
0
More fishing news

The Clarion does attempt to cover as much fishing news as possible, but also realizes that not everyone wants to see a fishing article on the cover of the paper every day.

Check out the Clarion's online fishing page - Tight Lines (http://www.explorethekenai.com/tightlines/) for a one-stop source for the fishing articles that have been in the paper.

For example, Les Palmer's article (Sockeye Q&A) about fishing for Sockeye fish in the Kenai river is a great read for how to catch and care for reds.

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