State announces opening for Chitina dipnetting

Posted: Sunday, May 26, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Fishermen will get their first chance to dipnet for salmon in the Copper River at Chitina on June 7, the Department of Fish and Game has announced.

The opening is scheduled for 60 hours, from 8 a.m. June 7 to 8 p.m. June 9.

Biologist Tom Taube said the length of the first opening could change. The hours will depend on how many fish make it past a sonar counter at Miles Lake. The counter between Chitina and the mouth of the Copper River is used to gauge the strength of the run.

As of Wednesday, only 1,530 fish had been counted by the sonar, about 5,000 below preseason projections. Taube said at least 23,000 salmon must make it past the sonar by Sunday if the 60-hour opening is to remain in place.

''If there's fewer than 23,000 we'll see that opening shrink down,'' Taube said.

A late spring may be part of the problem, Taube said. Fish may be milling at the mouth of the river waiting for the water to come up, which is just starting to happen with the state's hot weather.

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