The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Tony Gorman
For the Star 

Dipnetters happy after slow season start

ADF&G reports unique fishery is thriving in Copper River


The dipnet fishery in the Chitina Sub-district is thriving despite a slow start to the season. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, ADF&G, waters are still high in the area, but appear to be going down.

Hot temperatures and melting snow and glaciers in the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains have raised the height of the Chitina River. The Copper River remains high but is starting to drop.

Despite the high waters, more dpinetters are starting to come out.

“People did fish over the weekend,” Upper Copper-Upper Susitna River area management biologist Mark Somerville said. “Our reports from anybody who has been fishing in the Chitina Sub-district, that they are doing well with their fishing. They are catching a lot of sockeye.”

Somerville said that people are hitting their fishing limits. The individual fishing limit is 15. For a family of two or more the limit is 30. Last week was a supplemental period where dipnetter could get 10 additional fish. Many did.

Somerville announced Tuesday morning that there will be no supplemental period this week. The area is also still closed to King Salmon.

There are still less fish wheels in the water than last year mainly because many were lost in the spring floods. But, more have been out in recent weeks. At the start of the fishery only two wheels were out. As of last week, there were 11 wheels out on the bridge and at least five to seven wheels near the Chitina Airport area. Several more have been spotted as far as the Slana area.

Somerville said ADF&G anticipates good fishing for the sub-district through next weekend.

“We’re still seeing the fish that came through the sonar,” Somerville said. “We’ve had record numbers come through the sonar and they appear to be coming through the sonar now.”

This year’s Chitina Sub-District dipnet fishery got off to a slow start due to the late spring break up of the rivers in the area. The flooding and slow salmon run forced ADF&G to push back the opening date.


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