Some fishy facts about dip netting in Alaska
After a few days in Homer, we back-tracked on the Sterling Highway and went up north to Kenai, the largest and the oldest city on the Kenai Peninsula . This was a “lazy stop,” since we had been in this area before and didn’t need to explore much. The RV park we stayed at had spectacular views of the Kenai River, Cook Inlet and on a clear day two of the four active volcanoes, Mt Redoubt and Mt Iliamna.
When we pulled into the park we noticed immediately that all of the guests seemed harried and in a frenzy, full of energy. We later learned that we arrived here at the peak time of the Kenai River personal use salmon dip netting season. The season began on July 10 and ends July 31. This is the period during which all Alaskans put everything on hold and fill their freezers with FRESH SALMON.
So what is dip netting? To dip net, anglers stand in the mouth of the River holding large nets with long handles. As the fish move from the ocean to the river, they swim along the shoreline in large groups. When the time is right, one can catch enormous amount of Salmon in this way. And this type of fishing is exclusive only to Alaska residents, no tourists allowed. However, the seasonal harvest limit is 25 per household, plus 10 per dependent, and all fish must be marked. As you can imagine, it’s somewhat of an “honor” system. As I mentioned in my previous blog, fishing regulations are complicated .
We became spectators of the shore-based dip netting frenzy at the Cook Inlet shoreline while we were there. Especially on the first day, we saw hundreds of fish literally jumping out of the water and into people’s nets. It was an amazing sight to see hundreds of people, including children, intent on the family project. Only in Alaska can you see this kind of frenzy.
On our last day here we were invited to a BBQ party in Nikiski, 17 miles from Kenai. I finally met Gemma in person whom I initially met on a Yahoo group for the high school I graduated from. We continued our friendship on FB and finally visited her and family in Nikiski. That was an exciting day for me and I met her husband also named Steve, her sisters and cousins. We had a great time and we met nice local residents.