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Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
June 2013

How to Dipnet for Salmon in Chitina

By Nancy Sisinyak
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Within the next few weeks, multitudes of Alaska residents will travel to the raging Copper River in hopes of filling their freezers with world-renowned Copper River salmon. These hearty souls are not your average hook and line anglers. They aren’t carrying wispy, graphite rods, sporting delicate reels wound with translucent monofilament line. No, these fishers are Chitina dipnetters. They are easily recognizable by what they have strapped to the roof of their cars or in the beds of their pick-ups; dipnets - long poles that terminate in a very large-hooped net. Multiple coolers (big ones) rest aside the dipnets. The more seasoned of the bunch might be hauling a camper, or a trailer loaded with a four-wheeler or two. The very fortunate ones tow boats with high-horsepower motors.

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If you have ever felt a strong primal urge to join this human migration, but weren’t quite sure you would be accepted into their ranks by virtue of… well, not having a clue how to dipnet, you needn’t worry any longer. Rinse out those coolers, buy or borrow a dipnet, fire up your computer and watch How to Dipnet for Salmon in Chitina. This four-part video series, produced by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (2013), shows you what to take to Chitina, what to expect when you get there, where you may camp, and demonstrates the three techniques for dipnetting salmon in the Copper River.

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After watching the accomplished dipnetters in the videos you are sure to hear the call of the river and can confidently take your place among the ranks of the stalwart Chitina dipnetters that head to the Copper River each season.

Note: Only Alaska residents may participate in the Chitina personal use dipnet fishery.

Nancy Sisinyak is a Sport Fish Information Officer for Alaska Department of Fish & Game in Fairbanks.


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