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Thread: Dipnet differences: Kenai vs. Copper

  1. #1
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default Dipnet differences: Kenai vs. Copper

    Up until this point I've only dipped in the Kenai, but due to time constraints in mid-July, I'm thinking about taking a trip out to Chitna this weekend. My question is if my Kenai dipnet will suffice, or if I need a different style net. My impression of the Copper is that it's fast flowing and that you have to keep moving the net upstream and letting it flow down with the current. Is this correct? In the Kenai we all tend to just plant out net out as far as it'll reach and wait for the fish. The current is so negligable that we don't need to move it at all, which is a good thing given it's size. (Max. size net loop, long handle) Would I be better off getting a smaller net that's more manageable? That might pursuade me to not go, but if I can get away with my Kenai net I may give it a shot. Any thoughts?

    -Brian

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I haven't dipped the copper in 5 years, I can't see paying for a charter, and don't have a 4 wheeler, though it sounds like I could make it in my 4wd truck.

    Anyhow, when I did dip the copper for the first time, I met a guy who called himself Copper River Gary, one of those characters that makes Alaska, Alaska. Anyhow, he showed me how he set up his net in a backeddy, so that the water was flowing upstream, and he used a rope tied to a tree or rock to hold the net in place. The current held the net in place, and you'd just sit down and wait for the fish to get tangled in the gilnet. He recomended a landing net sized hoop, which is what I've always used there.

    Just like Kenai, the run is either hit or miss. I've been skunked, and I've limited in 3 hours.

    I've never tried using a larger frame, and think it would become a bit unwieldy.

    I almost went down this past week, because I'm also busy in July, but it didn't work out, so I'll definately make time to get down to Kenai in July. Kenai is a family friendly local, the kids can play on the beach, wade in the water, and the fish are bigger, and the limit more generous. The Copper is hardcore.

  3. #3

    Default Differences

    B_M, I've never dipped the Kenai but I have dipped the Copper and I would have to say, from what i have heard and seen, there is a difference in the methods and equipment used. When I dipped the Copper I would use a salmon landing net with a long handle, 12-15 feet and didn't have to worry about net color like you do on the Kenai. I would find spots along the shore where the water kind of back eddied some and was not real deep, say maybe 4-8 feet. You can't see the fish in the Copper so your basically blind dipping but like the Kenai, you will know when one hits your net. The Copper can get crowded but not like the Kenai and since the slide has closed the road for the most part you may have to charter to a good spot to get your fish. I would love to try and dip the Kenai but I don't play well with large masses of rude people in boats. The Copper can be fun but you have to be careful, it can be a dangerous place and it seems that someone always looses thier life in that river.

  4. #4
    Member fullkurl's Avatar
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    Default definitely different...

    The nets are stouter and more like salmon landing nets for the Copper, Brian. Its a tough current and sangs are common.
    And net color really doesnt matter when they are running strong. The Kenai is more crowded by far.
    Many think the flavor of the copper river fish is superior. I donno.
    I like the atmosphere there. I've power rafted the river to dipnet--its dangerous though (almost ended up divorced when the net handle bent due to a rope in the prop heading down the canyon).
    I've found its better to just pay Hem and get my fish quickly and painlessly. Obviously they need to be running though.
    Hope it helps....Frank

  5. #5
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fullkurl
    The nets are stouter and more like salmon landing nets for the Copper, Brian. Its a tough current and sangs are common.
    And net color really doesnt matter when they are running strong. The Kenai is more crowded by far.
    Many think the flavor of the copper river fish is superior.
    I agree 100%

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    One thing to add, while the Kenai is crowded, I've found the dippers to be a pretty friendly bunch. I can't fish the Kenai with a rod due to the crowds, but don't mind netting. Perhaps the fact I float, and get just a bit further out from the shufflers helps.

  7. #7
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Default Kenai

    I've dipped both and I have to say I really enjoy the quality of fish on the Kenai compared to the Copper. The Kenai fish are FRESH from the saltwater and haven't been in the silt for 50+ miles (the copper river reds appear "washed out" to me). I've also noticed that the Kenai fish are considerably larger. I'm not sure about taste difference because we usually can/smoke our fish. Maybe fresh and straight onto the grill there would be a noticeable difference? I dip the Kenai from a boat and, other than the occasional "knucklehead", the people are friendly and helpful. Also, we usually stay at the Riverbend campground which has really good fish cleaning tables and friendly hosts.

    On one of our last trips to the Kenai, a friend and I got 92 fish in about 8 hrs. Took a while to clean them! We use large, king size landing nets with 8' handles and the stock black webbing. We don't like to fool around with the gill netting (takes too long to clear the fish from the net while floating). When the fish are in, the gill nets don't get many more than we do by any means.
    AKmud
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Kenai fish are definatley bigger, I've had Copper reds make it trough the mesh of my gil net, that rarely happens on the Kenai. There are also some lunkers on the Kenai in the 10# and over range, Coppers are more in the 5# range.

    I've yet to dip both rivers on the same year, and wanted to do it this year for a side by side taste comparison, but it didn't work out.

    Gil vs landing, seems to be a boat vs shore thing. For the shore you definately want a gil net. I've gotten 65 in a little over 3 hours with my one net, so the gil hasn't been a hindrance. I have my wife and kids out cleaning the fish and putting them on ice, and they can only handle about 10 an hour between cleaning them and dragging them up to the cooler.

    I will say having more than 30-35 fish to process is a killer, and limiting out 1 day isn't necessarily a good thing.

  9. #9
    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    Default Reds

    Copper reds are more oily and can be of a darker red flesh color meat. Kenai larger, normally less beat up but nothing beats a copper red to smoke or can in my opinion.

    Kenai fish are presentation fish (for the grill), copper reds are better tasting.

    Dean

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Denter
    Copper reds are more oily and can be of a darker red flesh color meat. Kenai larger, normally less beat up but nothing beats a copper red to smoke or can in my opinion.

    Kenai fish are presentation fish (for the grill), copper reds are better tasting.

    Dean
    I agree with you one this. I will also add that I have caught very large reds in the Copper. A friend of mine caught an enormous red last year. This thing was fat end heavy, and I dropped it in the water after gutting it and cutting the head off! He is the nicest guy around, and didn't get mad at me. But I still feel bad about losing his fish.

    Back in the early '80's I used to catch very large reds, and remember one time when I caught a large King. A coworker of mine tied a 50-pound scale on a tree, and then hung the fish on it, but the scale's spring stretched-down to the 50-pound mark and hung there. I imagine that it weighed from 50 to 55 pounds. We had to cut it in two to fit it in one cooler. Now must of the Kings I see being caught weight from 15 to 35 pounds.
    ---------

    I haven't dipped the Kenai, just the Copper. I use both Kenai and the other nets sold around Fairbanks. Sometimes I sweep the shore with the net by allowing the current to carry it downstream. However, I don't do that too much these days because it wears me out. What I do now is dip the net in a back-eddy (the water next to the shore moving upstream), and wait for the salmon to swim into the net. But what always works the best is to find a hole within the eddy, just upstream from a rock or a high point. It seems that the salmon use those holes to rest or something, and there is where the net waits for them.

  11. #11

    Default

    I think the copper river reds are just as good if not better than kenai. I have caught little reds and big reds in both rivers. The Copper is preatty hard core though, and dangerous. You fall in that river you aint getting out till a gillnetter picks you up in cordova! I actually have a preatty funny story. One spot we hit one year on the copper was a preatty knarly CLIMB down to the water. Pain in the ass to get down and even worse to get up. 45 reds later we had to get all these fish back up. uh oh. So we made probably the worlds longest stringer. attached it to the winch cable from one of the 4 wheelers on the road and proceeded to winch about 300 lbs of reds up the cliffs and through the woods. And no we didnt lose or ruin 1 fish. that was a long night of cleaning! J

  12. #12
    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    Default Copper King

    This photo is not mine, but a friends. Hope he hits it this year while other are in much hotter climates. Kings can get real big in the Copper.

    Best of Luck, and any guesses on how much this one weighed?

    Dean
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