May 30, 2012
- To begin, I will say you are all witnessing an HISTORIC EVENT that is unprecedented in the Chitina Personal Use Dipnet Fishery and the Copper River Sockeye Salmon run. From the earliest fish counts at the Miles Lake sonar station this salmon run showed above average run indicators. And as time progressed, now just 15 days into the run, the numbers of sockeye running up the Copper River are literally OFF THE CHART. An average run in the Copper River is about 800,000 reds each season. On the day this piece was written, 5/30/12, the cumulative count to date is almost half way to that number with 307,000 fish counted so far. Based on these numbers, if the current trend were to continue through the summer the run would end up over two million. Currently it is 200% above what the average total to date
would normally be. The salmon run chart you see here is a REAL TIME chart
. Each day new numbers are charted this graph will continue to change and reflect the immediate conditions of the run.
My reference to historic event is almost an understatement. The magnitude of this run at this point in time is unlike any previous year's run characteristics. The daily counts are huge. 40K, 72K, and 83,000 in the past 3 days. What this means for the Chitina Dipnetter is you will be experiencing something few others will ever have enjoyed....unbelievable numbers of reds passing through the dipnet fishery. But the title of this article is MAXIMIZING YOUR HARVEST POTENTIAL so let's get to the nuts and bolts of this strategy.
The Chitina Personal Use Dipnet Permit is different from the permits issued for the Kenai & Kasilof Rivers and sometimes Fish Creek. The CHITINA PERMIT allows a single person 15 salmon on his permit with an allowance for one king harvested. A family permit allows the harvest of 30 salmon of which one may be a king salmon.
During years when the run is extremely strong and a surplus of sockeye salmon are in the river, the Department of Fish & Game can issue an Emergency Order for a supplemental harvest allowing permit holders to harvest an additional bonus of 10 salmon after they have filled their permit. So a Single Person permit, during a Bonus Supplemental Period, would be able to take home 15 for the permit plus 10 more as the supplemental harvest. For a Family Permit the holder could harvest 30 salmon and then take another 10 salmon during the bonus period.
Now here is the unprecendented scenario. This run is so huge that for the first time ever, ADFG is beginning the Dipnet Season at Chitina with the issuance of an open supplemental harvest period from DAY 1. In other words, for the first period from June 7th through June 10th a permit holder will be able to fill his 15 or 30 fish limit AND add an additional 10 bonus fish to his harvest. So a single person can take home 25 during the first week and a family guy can take home 40 salmon.
It gets even BETTER! Here is the MAXIMIZING your harvest X2. Each supplemental bonus harvest period is only by Emergency Order so one period may allow the extra harvest and the following period may go back to the basic permit allowance. In this unprecedented case, ADFG has already decided to make the SECOND Harvest Period from June 11th through June 17th, a Supplemental Harvest period too. The RULE is: When supplemental harvest periods are announced, EACH SUPPLEMENTAL PERIOD will allow the permit holder to harvest an additional 10 salmon during that period. For example, if the there were three supplemental harvest periods in a row you could harvest your permit allowance and then 10 extra fish in each of those bonus periods.
THE "LOAD 'EM UP" STRATEGY:
Here is the tip I got from the F&G biologist overseeing the Copper River region.
- The First Open Period is June 7th through Sunday June 10th and its a supplemental harvest bonus period by EO.
- Go fishing on SUNDAY June 10th and catch your 15 or 30 fish allowance PLUS your extra 10 fish bonus.
- On JUNE 11th the Second Supplemental Harvest Period begins and you are allowed an additional 10 extra salmon.
- Catch your 10 extra salmon on Monday and go home with a LOT of fish. ONE TRIP and almost double your fish.
- Copper River Reds are the most prized sockeye in the World. So this year think COPPER RIVER.
If you have never been dipnetting at Chitina you will need to educate yourself about this fishery, the limited access areas, private property owners, open access locations, and most importantly where to get your Chitina Personal Use Dipnet Permit. ADFG has an extensive collection of information, including maps, to help you participate in this fishery. The web pages are http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=PersonalUsebyAreaInteriorChitina.main. And here is the official ADFG web page with the Copper River Dipnet Schedule.
ONE PRECAUTION: The king salmon run in the Copper River is very poor this year. Dipnet regulations allow for one king to be taken normally. But this year there is a VERY GOOD POSSIBILITY that kings will not be allowed to be harvested and must be released unharmed. WATCH AOJ for any announcement to this EO that may be coming. Don't get busted!
Good Luck, Good Dipping~! -Klondike Kid-