Chitina Personal Use Salmon Fishery
Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

What is "Personal Use"?

"Personal use" is a legally defined regulatory category of fishery. It is defined as "the taking, fishing for, or possession of finfish, shellfish, or other fishery resources, by Alaska residents for personal use and not for sale or barter, with gill or dip net, seine, fish wheel, long line, or other means defined by the Board of Fisheries".

The Board of Fisheries established personal use fisheries to allow Alaskan residents to harvest fish for food in areas that are not eligible for subsistence fisheries.

Personal use fisheries are only allowed when they won't jeopardize sustained yield of the resource, and won't negatively impact an existing resource use, and are in the broad public interest.

It is unlawful to buy, sell, trade or barter personal use finfish, shellfish, aquatic plants, or their parts.

Can I fish in the Chitina Subdistrict Personal Use Fishery using any means?

No. The only gear you may use in the Chitina Subdistrict personal use fishery is a dip net.

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What is a dip net?

In 5 AAC 39.105 of the Alaska Administrative Code, a dip net is defined as:

  1. a bag-shaped net supported on all sides by a rigid frame;
  2. the maximum straight-line distance between any two points on the net frame, as measured between any two points on the net frame, as measured through the net opening, may not exceed five feet;
  3. the depth of the bag must be at least one-half of the greatest straight-line distance, as measured through the net opening;
  4. no portion of the bag may be constructed of webbing that exceeds a stretched measurement of 4.5 inches;
  5. the frame must be attached to a single rigid handle and be operated by hand.
size specifications for a legal dip net

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Do I need a sport fishing license to dipnet in the Chitina Subdistrict?

Yes. If you are 18 years old or older, you must have in your possession a valid Alaska resident sport fishing license, an ADF&G Permanent ID (senior license), or an ADF&G Disable Veteran's license to fish in the Chitina Subdistrict.

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Do I need a permit to dipnet in the Chitina Subdistrict?

Yes. A permit is required to participate in the Chitina Subdistrict Personal Use dip net fishery. Also required is an Alaska resident sport fishing license, ADF&G senior license, or ADF&G Disabled Veteran's License. Chitina permits are available online, as well as at ADF&G offices and local vendors.

Chitina Personal Use permits are household permits. This means that only one permit will be issued per household. All members of the household must be named on the permit and any household member wishing to participate must also have a valid Alaska resident sport fishing license, ADF&G Permanent ID card (PID/senior license) or ADF&G Disabled Veteran's license if they are 18 years old or older.

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Can my household have both a Chitina dip net permit and a Glennallen subsistence permit?

No. Households MAY NOT HOLD BOTH the Chitina Subdistrict Personal Use permit AND the Glennallen Subdistrict Subsistence permit. Households must choose one or the other permit.

Households that are found to have received both the Chitina personal use permit and the Glennallen subsistence permit may be subject to fines and loss of future personal use fishing privileges.

Be aware of what fishery you want to participate in and be sure to get the correct permit. Once you obtain a permit for either the Chitina Subdistrict Personal Use Fishery or the Glennallen Subdistrict Subsistence Fishery, YOUR HOUSEHOLD IS INELIGBLE TO RECEIVE THE OTHER.

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I have relatives coming to visit; can they help me dipnet?

No. Nonresidents may not participate in the fishery. Participation includes, but is not limited to, the handling of gear (such as carrying or operating the dipnet, or helping pull the net into the boat or onto shore), and the handling of fish (such as helping get the fish out of the dipnet, clubbing them, clipping the fins, or filleting the fish at the fishing site).

Only Alaskan residents may participate in personal use fisheries, and by regulation, only those holding a valid Alaska resident sport fishing license, or ADF&G Permanent Identification Card (PID/senior license), or ADF&G Disabled Veteran's license and the accompanying personal use permit may participate in the fishery.

For fishing and hunting purposes, the Alaska State Legislature has defined a resident as "a person who is physically present in Alaska with the intent to remain indefinitely and makes a home here, has maintained that person's domicile in Alaska for 12 consecutive months immediately preceding an application for a license and not claiming residency or obtaining benefits under a claim of residency in another state, territory, or country." Please refer to the Alaskan residency overview for more information.

Alaska resident youth under 18 do not have to purchase a sport fishing license to participate. However, they must meet the residency requirement.

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My friend and I are both Alaska residents, and I have the Chitina personal use permit and they do not have a permit. Can they help me dip net?

First off, only the permit holder, or those household members listed on the permit, may operate the capture gear in the fishery.

If the assisting resident does not have a permit for that fishery (either no permit at all or a permit for another fishery):

  • They may not help clip the tails (mark the fish);
  • They may not help dispatch the fish;
  • They may not help remove fish from the gear, even if completely out of the water;
  • They may drive the boat;
  • They may help offload the fish from the boat;
  • They may help clean the fish;
  • They may not help the permit holder record the harvest on the permit;
  • They may not be in sole possession of the fish without the presence of the permit holder whose permit the fish are logged on.

If the assisting resident has their own permit for that fishery:

  • They may help the permit holder clip tails (mark the fish);
  • They may help the permit holder dispatch the fish;
  • They may help the permit holder remove the fish from the net once it is completely out of the water and either in the boat or on the shore;
  • They may drive the boat;
  • They may help offload the fish from the boat;
  • They may help clean the fish;
  • They may not help the permit holder record the harvest on the permit;
  • They may not be in sole possession of the fish without the presence of the permit holder whose permit the fish are logged on.

What is the bag limit for salmon in the Chitina Subdistrict?

Limits are per household. A head of household is allowed 25 salmon, and for each additional household member, the household is allowed 10 more salmon. As a portion of these limits, the annual limit for Chinook (king) salmon is one per household.

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When is the Chitina Subdistrict open to dipnetting?

The Chitina Subdistrict Personal Use Fishery is open only by Emergency Order. For Chitina openers and closures, monitor the Copper River Chitina Subdistrict Personal Use Salmon Fishery Schedule. Additionally, the Department has three recorded hotlines (Glennallen: 907-822-5224, Anchorage: 907-267-2511, Fairbanks: 907-459-7382) that are updated weekly announcing the times the fishery is open.

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I heard I have to "mark" salmon caught in a personal use fishery such as the Chitina Subdistrict. How do I do this?

By regulation, you must "mark" salmon harvested in the personal use fishery by clipping both tips of the tail fin. Many people use strong kitchen shears to cut off both tips of the tail fin. BE SURE TO MARK YOUR FISH BEFORE LEAVING THE FISHING SITE OR CONCEALING THE FISH FROM PLAIN VIEW.

Because it is unlawful to buy, sell, trade or barter personal use fish or their parts, a person may not possess personal use salmon that was taken under the authority of a permit unless both tips of the tail fin have been removed from the salmon. The salmon must be marked before the salmon is concealed from plain view, such as put in a cooler, or before the salmon is transported from the fishing site, such as your vehicle. Failure to mark the salmon is a violation, and may be subject to fines and loss of future personal use fishing privileges.

mark salmon harvested in a personal use fishery in which a permit is required by clipping both tips of the tail fin

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When is the best time to go dipnetting in the Chitina Subdistrict?

Watching the sonar counts at Miles Lake can provide an indication of the number of fish moving toward Chitina. It takes 2 – 3 weeks for fish to travel from the sonar site to the Chitina Subdistrict. The sonar counts total salmon and the counts are 95% sockeye salmon. Remember though, just because the sonar says lots of fish should be arriving in Chitina, the fishing may still be bad. Success can range from epic to terrible with changes in water level that are unpredictable and can occur anytime during the season.

The best time to go to Chitina and dip net is really up to you. Do you really want to catch a king salmon or is that less important compared to catching lots of sockeye? Are you happy dip netting with lots of people or would you rather go when fewer folks are there and fishing is slower? The figures below can provide some information to help you decide the time that may best suit you.

Graph showing Chignik Subdistrict Dip Net Fishery: 2013-2017 Average King Salmon Harvest by Day.
Average king salmon harvest by day in the Chitina Personal Use Salmon Fishery.
Select image to enlarge.
Graph showing Chignik Subdistrict Dip Net Fishery: 2013-2017 Average Sockeye Salmon Harvest by Day.
Average Sockeye salmon harvest by day in the Chitina Personal Use Salmon Fishery.
Select image to enlarge.
Graph showing Chignik Subdistrict Dip Net Fishery: 2013-2017 Average Sockeye Salmon Harvest Per Permit by Day.
Average sockeye salmon harvest per permit by day in the Chitina Personal Use Salmon Fishery.
Select image to enlarge.

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How many salmon are in the river right now?

Fish counts are conducted (from about mid-May to the end of July) using a sonar site at the outlet of Miles Lake about 70 miles from the Chitina personal fishery area. See the Copper River/Miles Lake Sonar page for fish counts and additional information.

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How long does it take for salmon to travel from the Miles Lake Sonar to the Chitina dip net fishery area?

Prior to mid-July, it takes approximately 2 weeks, depending on river conditions, for salmon to travel from Miles Lake to the Chitina area (approximately 70 miles). After mid-July it takes about 3 weeks.

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Can the fish be used as bait?

Personal use caught fish may be used for food or for bait.

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Do I need a king salmon stamp to harvest a king salmon under the personal use permit?

No. You do not need a king salmon stamp for personal use. You do need a king salmon stamp if you will be sport fishing for king salmon.

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Can I keep a rainbow trout while dipnetting in the Chitina Subdistrict?

No. Steelhead and rainbow trout may not be kept while dipnetting. You are required to return these fish to the river. The Chitina dip net permit is for salmon only.

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