Chitina Dipnet general advice and update 7/24/08 end of day
Chitina fishing report for end of day 7/24/08 and some general advice
Just got back after fishing all day on Thursday 7/24/08. It's hard to judge, even with good info. For the past week or two, I've been watching the
Miles Lake sonar csfish.adfg.state.ak.us/mariner/pws/pwscopperesc.php
and checking the
Mark Hem's Hotline daily 823-2200
Mark could shorten his message a little bit, so we would get fewer busy signals. One idea might be to put some of the repeat info on a webpage and refer people to it instead of repeating it every time onthe recording.
We took Hem's charter in, dropped off by Sam. These guys and their crew work 15 hours a day over the summer, Sam escaping to Anchorage in the winter as a mechanic. I don't think Sam knows what rest means.
Place in line for charter
We were in the 4th load of people to go out. Mark Hem takes up to 8 people, Sam takes up to 5-6 people, at a time with 40-50 minutes average between dropoffs and load-ins depending on how much gear or fish are being transferred. We secured our place in line around 9 pm the night before. There were 9 other parties in front of us by then. By the time 4:30 am rolled around, there were another 15-20 parties behind us, many of which didn't get out that day, but were at the start of the line the next day (today).
Sam dropped us off on the far side of the bank just upriver from Haley Creek and indicated that most of the other fishing spots were full, no more groups would go out until the overnighters had gotten their limits.
Fishing report 7/24/08 end of day
Thursday, all day was slow for everyone, some places only getting 2 fish. Pretty discouraging in the constant rain and light wind.
The folks fishing overnight at our spot finished their supplemental harvest by 7:30 am when we starting fishing. We got a few right off, then it slows to 1-2 hr all day. Finally around 4:30 pm, a slug of fish came through and we got in 1.5 hrs equal to what we had struggled for all day. This run then stopped for us and we caught no more for the next hour, when we got picked up around 6:45 pm on the last run back. It was nice to get that final push to make the trip from Fairbanks worthwhile.
We did catch some whitefish (sucker mouths) and a nice looking Dolly Varden trout (spotted on the upper body), but didn't want the whitefish and not allowed to keep the Dolly Varden when caught by dipnetting. The folks ahead of us said they caught a number of Dolly Vardens. Something to watch for.
Some folks had 4 wheelered in and were hanging off the rocks just upriver from Haley Creek. There were several powerboaters who drifted back and motored back up (for that satisfying motor noise for adjacent landed dipnetters) along the east side of the shore and later in the afternoon had pretty good luck.
If I had to guess, the run of fish from the Miles Lake sonar over the July 4 holiday is coming through in bursts and I suspect that at least half have made it through the Chitina fishery already. Next Mon-Tues, fishing will be closed. Whether some of those burst come through in that time or how many bursts remain is anyone's guess. Today's report is instantly outdated by the next.
So you may be lucky and have a burst happen during your trip in the next week or so. Spending more than a day would be recommended should you get skunked the first day.
Getting to those eddies along the selected spots on the riverbank gives one a lot better chance of catching fish than trying to fish the current. Without your own boat, taking the $100 charter or trying to 4-wheel/GardenWay cart/etc. in for the near bank are the only options for that and will be competing with others who may have been either spending the night or getting dropped off.
Early starts, night before to secure place in line, be prepared to spend 2 days, though at $100/pp for a charter ($180 for a couple on a single permit), spending overnight makes more sense. More than $100 per person for a charter can really cut into the savings you get from catching fish instead of buying it in the store. We were there during a supplemental harvest period, meaning up to an additional 10 fish for a family of two or more. In the past, Hem's has wanted to charge an extra $10 if you caught the supplemental. I think that is milking it a bit much and hope Mark drops that.
There are cleaning tables maintained by Hem's. This year, as in the past few years, a Kenny Lake local Samuel, now a college student in Phoenix, has been cleaning/prepping fish at about $1/fish if you want to not have to deal with that part of it. A real nice young man, he doesn't anticipate returning next summer, but has 13 mostly younger brothers and sisters. His dad is the pastor for one of the local ministries in Kenny Lake and his mom must just be worn out. Man, that's a lot of kids. I don't blame him for heading outside for college.
Gas Food and Showers
Gas is best to get in Glenallen if you don't bring your own, though Kenny Lake and Chitina have it. It's 8 cents/gallon cheaper ($2.88) just east on the Glenn Hwy in Glenallen instead of the "Hub" on the intersection of the Glenn and Richardson. Another 20 miles from there to the Edgerton Hwy intersection and then 33 miles to Chitina through Kenny Lake.
If you can get back to Kenny Lake after fishing before 9 pm, there is a shower and nice diner, part of a campground complex. The Chitina Hotel also had a restaurant, don't know about showers. Not much in Glenallen for restaurants after 9 pm or maybe 10 pm - you'd have to rely on the quickie marts for prepped food or just bring your own food with you.
If you have any time in Chitina, you might check out the Spirit Mountan Artworks place next to the hotel or just walk around the old section of town, such as it is.
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