Kasilof dipnetting off to slow start

First week doesn’t net big sockeye returns

Posted: Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Kasilof River personal-use dipnet fishery opened almost a week ago but few fishermen have caught any salmon, and the situation wasn’t any better Saturday.

“It’s pretty sucky,” said Jon Zufelt of Eagle River.

Zufelt said he made the trip to Kasilof on Friday and hadn’t seen much in the way of dipnetting to make him feel it was worth the gas to drive down.

“I saw 20 people fishing the incoming tide last night and not a fish was caught,” he said.

The few dozen dipnetters fishing Saturday morning’s outgoing tide were finding it much the same.

“Everyone’s saying there’s just no fish, but how can there be any when the commercial fishermen have nets stretched for a mile offshore, in every direction?” he said.

According to employees at salmon processor buying stations near the mouth of the river, the commercial fishermen weren’t to blame, and they weren’t catching many fish either.

“I’ve worked at buying stations for the past couple of years and this has been the slowest I’ve seen it for this time of year,” said Kelly King, an employee at the Pacific Star buying station off of Cohoe Loop Road.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s fish counts for the Kasilof River indicated the number of salmon entering the river dropped off prior to the weekend. Their count dropped from 5,605 salmon Thursday to 748 salmon Friday, for the lowest daily count of the year.

King said that normally by now the salmon being brought in by commercial setnet fishermen after a picking tide is enough to fill, or nearly fill, one of the large — roughly 4-by-4-feet — insulated totes to capacity. That has not been the case this year, though.

“We’ve been getting barely enough to cover the bottom,” King said.

Melissa Linton, an employee at the Snug Harbor buying station on Cohoe Loop Road, said it was equally slow.

“The fishermen are saying it’s been pretty bad. Some of them aren’t even fishing today,” she said.

Several dipnet fishermen weren’t quick to call it quits.

“We’ve been at it for an hour and have got nothing. It’s just a lot of water, but we’ll keep trying,” said Sean Lincoln of Anchorage, down dipnetting with three friends.

Lincoln said catching salmon was his desire, but he wasn’t about to call Saturday a wash if he didn’t net any fish.

“It’s still a beautiful day to be here on the water having a good time with good friends,” he said.

Dan Ranniger of Anchorage was fishing not far from Lincoln’s party, and he said he was having the same lack of success but wasn’t going to let it ruin his weekend.

“I haven’t seen a fish yet, but a bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work,” he said.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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