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Thread: Kenai Keepers - I'm now a believer

  1. #1
    Member jmg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    At the end of the cul-de-sac

    Default Kenai Keepers - I'm now a believer

    I haven't been on this forum much anymore, but a few years I ago I purchased a "Kenai Keeper" from Backcountry Robb here on the forum (not sure if he is even still around). I tried it out that first year and was not very happy with it. I don't recall if I pointed out what I perceived to be the flaws here in the forum or not, but I know I at least did in a private message to Robb. Well, this year I decided to give it a try once again and see if I could get it to work for me. Basically, it is a stringer that you attach to yourself to string the fish up as you go, never leaving the water. My biggest complaint before was getting the fish out of the net while still in the water. I'd lose several of them. What I realized though is that I also lose several fish each day when dragging them all the way to the beach one at a time. It's just a part of dipnetting. And walking all the way in to be greeted by an empty net, well, you know the feeling if you've done this.

    Saturday night (last night), the fish were in heavy. I started stringing them up, and literally couldn't keep them out of my net. While wrestling with one fish, another would end up in the net. At one point, I had one I was stringing up and three more in my net. I didn't get all of those landed, but I also wasn't walking the couple hundred yards through the mud either. Having the fish strung up on me allowed me to bleed them out nicely and not drag them through the mud to get them out. I finally took a batch in when I had about twenty on the stringer. Yes, twenty. I put them in the box, and went back out for more. Got by my wife and she and I started working together to string up more. We ended the day with 50 fish in a single day. We've never gotten close to that, and I can honestly say I probably couldn't have done that with walking in and out of the water all day.

    Anyways, I know I was critical of this thing in the past, and wanted to point out my error and hope some of you will go out of your way to support a small company like Robb's if you can. This thing is probably not for everyone, I get that. But give it a try and see if it will work for you. I love it now. Good product Robb.
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

  2. #2
    Member Bambistew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    They work great as long as you don't use them for anything besides 3-5lb reds. I threw one in the trash yesterday... what a POS. The cable is so small that it will cut right through the jaw on bigger/heavier fish when you lift them out of the water. The only reason I bought it was because of the 'handle' thats built in. The handle works great, the rest of the design sucks. Save your money and use a rope, you won't loose fish...


  3. #3
    Member JOAT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Soldotna, ALASKA since '78


    Build your own. I built a couple stringers many years ago that are surprisingly similar to the KK design, but much beefier. Not sure if the KK was in production when I built mine, but I just copied the design of the cord-type stingers you get for 99 cents at the dept store. About 10 feet of 1/4" vinyl coated wire cable, a couple aluminum crimps, a snap link, and a homemade bar at the end. I made my bar using some scrap 5/8" aluminum barstock (remnants from building dipnet frames) and turned down a taper on one end, cut the other end at a diagonal, drilled a hole about 1/3 up from the cut end, and gave it a slight bend just after that (maybe 10). It looks like a super-sized version of the stick at the end of a standard fish stringer. The cable is run through the hole in the bar and attached to itself with a crimp. Then the snap link is attached to the other end in the same manner. I've never cut through a fish jaw with the fat cable. It works great.

    I'd already been using my heavy duty stringers when I first saw a KK in the store. I thought the same thing... that cable is way too skinny. I've never used a KK, so I can't speak from any experience about it, just the impression I got when seeing one. I don't think I've ever seen an actual KK in use out on the water, but I've seen some homemade rigs of various types. Seems that most folks continue to drag nets back to the beach every time, so they are only fishing about half the time while a guy with a stringer gets to fish non-stop.

    As for getting the fish out of the net, there's a technique to that as well. First, get to the net and get a hold of the fish as quickly as you can. The longer they fight, the more they roll up in the net and the harder it is to get them untangled. While you're standing at the net with the fish in it, reach in from the opposite side of the net that the fish entered from and grab it at the gills from the belly side. You want the belly on your palm with your thumb under one gill plate and your index finger under the opposite gill plate. Pinch with a death grip and you have total control of the fish. Now use your other hand to reach in from the other side of the net (the side the fish went in from), and untangle the net from the fish's body. When you've got the net off, you should have just the head in the net with the net trapped between your death-grip hand and the fish. Use that free hand to come up the back of the head, pushing any net out of the way as you go, so the palm is against the back of the fish and your thumb and index fingers slide under the gill plates from above and replace the grip of the other hand. As you withdraw the original death grip hand, pull the remaining net off the front of the head and you should have a free fish. It's easier to keep the death-grip from the back of the head where you have some meat to hold onto, so that's why I always end with holding the fish from the back instead of the belly. Immediately take your stringer and run it through the mouth and out a gill plate. Make sure you rake both gills if you haven't done so already. I usually try to do that first thing as the sooner you bleed the fish, the better the meat and the sooner it stops flopping around. As soon as the fish is strung and raked, drop it back in the water to keep it cool (the water is refrigerator temperature) and let it bleed out entirely. Some people like to bonk, but I never do. If you're going to bonk 'em, make sure you get it on the stringer first as the fish is going to go ape for several seconds when you smack it.
    Winter is Coming...

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