Alaska life hack: Copper River dipnet fishery opens June 13

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John Burr, fisheries biologist with Alaska Department of Fish and Game, demonstrates dip netting on the Copper River in Alaska. Photo credit: ADF&G video screenshot.

The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game will open the Copper River personal use dipnet fishery at the Chitina Subdistrict on June 13 for 72 hours, starting at 6 p.m. Thursday and ending at 6 p.m. on June 16, a reduction of 96 hours from the earlier tentative schedule.

The annual limit for salmon from the famous personal use fishery for Alaskans is 25 salmon for the head of household, and an additional 10 salmon for each dependent of the person who has the permit. Only one king (chinook) salmon may be kept and no steelhead may be kept.

All Alaska residents qualify for this personal use fishery and must have a Chitina Personal Use Salmon Fishery permit and a resident Alaska sport fishing license when dipnetting. Both dip net permits and fishing licenses can be obtained at the online ADF&G store. A $15 fee is charged for the Chitina Personal Use Salmon Fishery Permit, and the fee supports the sanitation services at the fishery and trail maintenance from O’Brien Creek to Haley Creek.

The Chitina Subdistrict personal use dipnet salmon fishery is managed under direction of the Copper River Personal Use Dip Net Salmon Fishery Management Plan, which establishes the general season from June 7 through September 30 and directs the department to establish fishing periods within that period based on Miles Lake sonar counts.

During May 27 – June 2, there were 46,991 salmon counted past the Miles Lake sonar, while the preseason projection for this period was 111,918 salmon. This is a deficit of 64,927 salmon.

Copper River sockeye salmon migratory timing and the previous three-year average harvest and participation rates indicate sufficient numbers of salmon available to allow 72 hours of fishing time during the week of June 10 – 16, a reduction of 96 hours from the preseason schedule, the department explained.

Other dip net openings are anticipated as the season goes along, and those wishing to fish this fishery can check the schedule at this link.

Fish and GameJ urges dipnetters to respect rights of private landowners in the area and familiarize themselves with the land ownership in the area before fishing. For information on access across private lands contact Chitina Native Corporation at (907) 823-2223 or Ahtna, Inc. at (907) 822-3476.

Additionally, the department urges users to adhere to signs and detours constructed along the O’Brien Creek to Haley Creek section of Copper River Highway Right of Way. The detours were constructed to avoid disturbing recently identified cultural sites within and along the right of way. Any violation or disturbance to protected cultural sites will result in immediate closure of this access road. For more information visit the Alaska Department of Transportation Copper River Public Access page describing the changes to the access route.

Information regarding the fishery can be found at the ADF&G web site. This site provides information regarding the Upper Copper River fisheries including: fishery descriptions and summaries, maps of the subdistricts, a list of vendors that issue permits, and links to the sonar numbers and fishing schedule emergency orders.

The current fishing schedule is announced on the Chitina Fishery information line at (907) 822-5224. Please contact the information phone line prior to planning your trip to Chitina to ensure that the fishery will be open when you arrive. If you have any questions regarding the Chitina Subdistrict personal use dipnet salmon fishery, please contact the ADF&G office in Glennallen at (907) 822-3309.

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