By Joseph Robertia
The Kasilof River dip-net fishery opened at midnight Friday, and while many came expecting a flood of fish over the weekend, they instead found a slow drip of salmon hitting their hooped nets.
“It’s been pretty bad,” said Matt Saccheus, of Anchorage. “It’s just been super slow.”
The personal-use dip-net fishery, open to Alaska residents, runs from June 25 through Aug. 7 at the Kasilof River, and began one hour after the personal-use set gillnet fishery ended. Unlike the gillnet fishery, which takes place within a mile in either direction of the mouth of the river, the dip-net fishery takes place from the river’s mouth to roughly one mile upstream, and allows fishing 24 hours a day.
Saccheus and his family drove to Kasilof on Friday hoping to fill their coolers, but the action was been barely worth the trip down, he said.
“We got one fish Friday, one on Saturday and one today,” he said Sunday. “It’s been about the same for everyone. I only saw one guy who had a whole string of salmon, but he fished from about 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Saturday, before the commercial nets went in.”
Saccheus blamed the slow fishing for the remainder of Saturday on an emergency order issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that allowed commercial fishermen to take to the water early, but on Sunday their nets were out of the water and the dip-net fishing had not improved.
Still, Saccheus’ clan was happy to be at least lucky enough to land one fish as the
weekend came to a close. Several hundred other fishermen standing chest deep in the fast-flowing water could not say the same.
Bob Ressler, of Anchorage, even had the misfortune of having Saccheus’ stepfather, Marty Kaniho Jr., catch a salmon just 30 seconds after stepping into the water in the same place Ressler had stood for nearly an hour.
“I can’t believe that guy just got one,” said Ressler’s wife, Teresa, who, after catching three fish Saturday, was watching her husband fish Sunday afternoon while she attempted to dry out on shore after putting in a lot of time to land zilch.
“I stood out there for an hour and a half and didn’t even get a bump,” she said. “The only thing I got was cold feet.”
Fred Schudlich, of Anchorage, came down Friday and began fishing at the stroke of midnight, and said he was glad he did, since that night was the best fishing all weekend.
“I thought it was pretty good on Friday. I got four and missed a number of other ones, but today and yesterday has been very slow,” he said.
Schudlich said one of the perks of the dip-net fishery is that, with just a turn of your head in either direction, fishermen can see how everyone else is doing up and down the bank from them and can look across the river mouth to scan for splashes in the nets of north-side dip-netters.
If the action is better at the front of the fishing line, just around a bend in the river
or across the way, it’s often worth moving to the new location. After three days, however, he said his fishing report was no particular spot on the river was better than any other.
“If you watch this side and that side, you can tell when it’s hot somewhere,” he said. “And it hasn’t been hot anywhere.”
Schudlich said he wasn’t sure if he would return to the Kasilof again next weekend.
“I may just wait until the Kenai opens,” he said.
The Kenai River dip-net fishery runs from July 10 through July 31, and only allows fishing from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information on taking part in either fishery, consult the 2011 Alaska Sport Fish Regulations Summary for Southcentral Alaska.