Ahh, dipnetting. The great Alaskan tradition that is only for Alaskans who have been residents for over one year (and have the way to prove it!). A time to go and stand in the ocean at the mouth of a river in waist-high water using all your muscle strength to hold a net 5′ wide vertical at the end of a 10′ long pole.
It’s kind of my favourite thing ever. After getting to go dip netting last year, I got hooked (that would be a great pun, but dip netting has no hooks!) and counted down the days until the 2015 season opened on the Kenai river.
First thing first was assembling gear we needed. We own a dipnet from a mishap with a rental place last year (they tried to give us those little nets you use to net your fish when you hook ’em. Much too tiny. We ended up buying a net), but we didn’t have the chest waders or shoes we needed.
This part was actually really hard: rentals out of Kenai and Cooper Landing were really expensive (read: $40 a DAY!). We were fortunate to find the place we rented from the previous year – only $6 per day for the waders & shoes per person.
As a courtesy to anyone looking for waders to rent on the cheap, here is our joint with the hookup: Alaska Canoe & Campgrounds located at 35292 Sterling Hwy, Sterling, AK 99672. They offer the gear on a first-come, first-serve basis, but I would call ahead to see if they have items in stock. They don’t advertise it on their website that they rent waders, so it’s really tough to find this good deal. If you end up using them, let me know so I can congratulate you on your money-savingness!
Phew. With our Volvo loaded up with coolers, food, a grill, camping gear, waders, a dipnet, and two dogs we were off to the mouth of the Kenai river for a weekend of camping and fishing with friends.
We chose to fish on the South side of the river (same as we did last year), and camp on the beach. This is very expensive ($45/day!). That is all I have to say about cost. You also need to have 4×4 to access the beach, and we saw MANY vehicles stuck in the sand. We were nervous about the XC60 getting stuck, so we brought tow ropes just in case. Luckily, Jorgen performed better than we expected and was outdriving the big trucks on the beach. Heck yes Volvo!
The dogs had an amazing time, as usual. They love anytime they get to be off leash and with us. During low tide, we walked out to join Matt fishing (like 1/4 a mile out into the ocean!), and the dogs were so excited. Sasha was chasing seagulls on a sandbar and we kept having to pull fish heads and fish carcasses out of their mouths. Ehh, a small but gross price to pay for their happiness.
Since our freezer was already filled with fresh halibut we caught in Homer, we didn’t have a lot of room for Salmon, so we only caught 3 fish. The rest of our group were catching machines! Two of our friends that accompanied us weren’t considered 1 year residents (one was only 4 days away from it!), so they just came for the experience. We ended up giving away our fish, and they were recipients of the bounty.
I’m constantly amazed by how many people were out on the beach and in the water. It’s like the biggest block party around, with thousands of people out fishing. And this was only just the South side! The North side had equally as many people!
Below are some of our photos from the weekend. Thanks again to nature, for giving us beautiful weather. Thanks to all of our wonderful friends who spent a weekend on the chilly beach in the name of fishing and Emily having a good time.
I will leave you with this gorgeous shot, taken around 11:30pm as the day was ending and all the dip netters were making their way to shore to clean their catch. Alaska never fails to bring the pretty.