FAIRBANKS (AP) -- For the first time ever, residents along the Yukon and Koyukuk Rivers in District Four will be allowed to use a dipnet to fish for salmon, according to state fisheries officials.
The Alaska Board of Fisheries last year decided to allow the option in times of conservation. Dipnetting can make it easier for fishermen to release chum, which have been in short supply, said Fred Bue with the Department of Fish and Game.
''You can easily release the fish you don't want. So it would provide a little bit of fishing opportunity, provide a couple fish for the dinner table, while still protecting the stocks we're concerned about,'' he said.
There's no limit on the number of coho and other salmon that fishermen can catch dipnetting, but if they net a chum it must be returned to the water immediately.
Fishery managers aren't sure exactly how dipnetting will work on the middle Yukon River. While dipnetting is done on the Copper River at Chitina, Bue said that the Yukon is a very different river and it remains to be seen where dipnetting will be feasible.
''Sockeye tend to swim close to the bank. There may be some places that it works and others where it just doesn't work,'' he said.
Fisheries managers say the use of dipnets on the Yukon drainage could be an option in the Fairbanks personal use fishery next spring.
When the river is running with ice, many whitefish navigate in small channels where people might be able to use the bag-shaped net to catch them.
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