Troopers watch for dipnet violators

Cathy Buchta, right, gets help Thursday afternoon from Becky Nichols with clipping the tail fins on a red salmon Buchta caught dipnetting at the mouth of the Kenai River. Trimming the tail fins is one of the regulations dipnetters need to take care to follow.

The Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery opened Tuesday to Alaska residents despite king restrictions and low numbers of other fish.


Alaska Wildlife Troopers will be checking for violators as throngs of visitors from around the state visit both the Kenai and the Kasilof dipnet fisheries.

Residents should remain mindful of the many types of violations for which they can be fined or receive misdemeanor charges, said Lt. Pete Mlynarik, Alaska Wildlife Troopers Soldotna post.

The Kasilof River dipnet fishery, which opened on its regular date of June 25, will remain open until Aug. 7. The Kenai River is open until July 31.

The two most common types of violations wildlife troopers see, said Mlynarik, is participants failing to mark and record caught fish. Last year, troopers handed out a total of 125 citations -- out of about 200 -- for failing to record fish caught, according to troopers.

"People forget to record their fish, but they need to," Mlynarik said. "(The troopers) hand out citations whether they think you forgot or whether you're not recording on purpose, trying to get more than is allowed."

The fine for failing to record caught fish is $100. Penalties for violations generally range from $75 to a misdemeanor, Mlynarik said.

Marking the fish requires removing both tips from a salmon's tailfin. The tips must be snipped off immediately, not after the salmon is removed from the fishing site.

This season, officials issued an emergency order prohibiting the retention of king salmon at the Kenai dipnet fishery. Only one king could be retained on the Kenai River during previous years. No retention of kings is allowed at the Kasilof and Fish Creek dipnet fisheries; an unchanged regulation.

Fishing is allowed at different times for each of the fisheries. The Kenai dipnet fishery is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. while dipnetting on the Kasilof River is allowed 24 hours a day. The Fish Creek dipnet fishery is opened by emergency order.

Wildlife troopers issued 45 citations for taking personal-use fish during a closed period last year. Taking a salmon when the river is closed can result in a $100 citation, plus $5 for every minute early or late for up to $300.

Troopers are bringing additional personnel to the area for the beginning of the season and for other limited periods of time, depending on how much the fisheries are used, Mlynarik said.

In addition to a resident fishing license, a personal-use permit is required for four fisheries: gillnetting and dipnetting on the Kasilof River, dipnetting on the Kenai River and dipnetting on Fish Creek.

The total yearly harvest limit is 25 salmon and 10 flounder for the permit holder and 10 salmon for each additional household member.
Only one permit is allowed per household, regardless of whether the residents are related.

For example, on June 30, wildlife troopers contacted two men from Anchorage near the Kasilof River personal use fishery. They discovered both men had a personal-use permit, and, as a result, one of the men was issued a misdemeanor citation for having more than one permit for his household.

"All people, in the household, who are fishing need to be listed on the permit," Mlynarik said. "And all people fishing need to have the permit in their possession while fishing."

Permits may be obtained from private vendors and the Fish and Game offices of Soldotna, Homer, Anchorage and Fairbanks.

The regulations are consistent with previous years, he said, with the exception of the no retention of king salmon on Kenai River.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at