Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dipnetting on the Kenai

I need to get started on posting again since it has been a while. My nephews who are 11 and 15 visited for two weeks and we had lots of fun with them here. It was nice having them around and the kids really enjoyed their cousins. We got to explore and do the touristy things that are very fun after spending a lot of our summer fixing our condo in the hopes that it will help it sell. That isn't going well unfortunately but I am trying not to lose hope.

We went to see Denali National Park and did a shuttle bus tour. We went hiking at the Byron Glacier and the Powerline Pass. Mike took his nephew hiking at Eklutna lake so they could go on one hike that wasn't kid paced and I could can the salmon. Mike took his nephews fishing out of Whittier with a friend of his. We went to the Kenai River for our annual dipnetting adventure and camped on the beach for 3 days. I took a little side trip with my younger nephew and the kids to Homer which is one of my favorite places in Alaska during dipnetting. We hit the pool at Nikiski before leaving Kenai to head back to Anchorage. His nephews  had a good trip. I spent this weekend at my friend's cabin in Trapper Creek and we attended a festival on Saturday totally unaware of a plane crash in the area until we got back.

The girls in Homer
In Alaska the Kenai and Kasilof  River is open for dipnetting red salmon for Alaska residents. Dipnetting is standing where the ocean meets the river with a net of either 4 or 5 feet and you wait for a fish to hit your net. You wear hip waders and rain gear and brave cold water and some waves at times. There are two sides at the mouth of the river the main dipnetting area on the Kenai. One on the main drag in Kenai where you drop off your gear and then park your car and another side where you can go onto the beach with your vehicle if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. We do the drop off side.You can get 25 fish for the head of household and 10 for each additional member so we can get up to 65 salmon for our family of 5. We never gotten close to limiting out in the past and this was our 5th year going but every year we do get lots of fish. Last year we got over 30 and canned lots of salmon.

Since our nephews were visiting and Mike had time off we went on Sunday and got there in the evening and stayed through Wednesday instead of incorporating a weekend into our trip like we usually do. There is usually a church group that offers free drinks, hot chocolate, a bounce house, face painting and other  activities for kids and offers to watch your kids during one of the tides on the weekends. It is super crowded on the weekend and takes a while to drop your gear off. During the week the crowd is smaller so it wasn't too bad while we were there. This year was our first year camping on the beach and it went well. I was worried about the kids and sand and not being able to wash it off or escape but it actually went really well. It was less costly then the RV park we tent camped on up the hill in previous years and way more convenient then the campground farther into town we camped at one year.

This year ended up being our most successful year dipnetting. We stopped at 50 fish which was all we had cooler space for and enough to last us the year through freezing, canning and smoking. We picked the perfect time to go this year. The fish were smoking while we were there and the numbers were a lot higher than historical averages. When the fish were on people were pulling out fish after fish. Mike had to leave to go to work on Tuesday morning in the middle of decent fishing and it was really windy and cold on Monday so he couldn't spend the day fishing. We stopped fishing early on Wednesday. Even with all that we got all the fish we needed.

The fishing is one thing I love about living here that is so unique and will be missed if we ever leave. The salmon fishery is sustainable, well run and the fish are safe to eat. We wouldn't be fishing otherwise because sustainability is very important to me. You can't beat living in Alaska for having an abundant local fish source that is actually totally sustainable and makes the green list for seafood that can feed your family a healthy source of protein for a year.

Jersey Subs on a windy day

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