Okay, here ya go... I've had requests from several people to divulge my knowledge of dipnetting and it's going to be a long post; so grab a favorite beverage and snack. I hope you enjoy the read.
For starters, we need to look at how to best predict the arrival of the salmon into the rivers, specifically the Kenai and Kasilof. This is done by observing the weather patterns first. There's going to be a trickle of fish at all times but the S and SW winds are what really blow in the bulk schools. The reason for this is that the heavier winds create surface currents on the ocean; the higher the wind, the higher the current and the more likely the fish will get "blown in". Second, we need to look at and track the OTF index. I do this on a daily basis by calling the commercial hotline; 907-262-9611. It will give you the escapement numbers, the times of the commercial EO's and various other tid bits important to knowing when things are getting fished and where. Now the OTF index is a great tool to use but it gets affected by the weather and is NOT a sole indicator that there will be fish present on a given day. It's a forecasting model used to estimate the abundance of salmon and what the escapment is going to be... that being said, the powers that be use that data to release EO's and do their best to manage the run for optimal escapement of the stocks. Contrary to popular belief, it is not solely the commercial guys and their advocates that dominate the release of the commercial fleet to anahilate the stocks - but that is a political conversation for another thread. (don't get me wrong, I strongly believe that there's room for improvement with the commercials but really, that's not what this is about). Back to the subject at hand; it takes anywhere from 2 to 3, sometimes 4 days for the fish to get from the 6 different OTF sites (which I've been told are around the Anchor Point and Deep Creek areas) to get to the Kasilof and Kenai rivers. NOW let's introduce the other variable, the commercial fleet with their Emergency Openers... this is the most volatile variable in the equation. EO's happen whenever there is fish to catch for them. There are several different gear types for this and you need to understand them and how they are fished. There are set nets, drift gill nets and I believe purse seiners (not exactly certain of the last one); they also have certain areas they can fish depending on their permit type and location. The areas that really affect the in-river populations of fish are the set gill nets that are within 1/2 mile of the mean high tide mark. That doesn't translate to a tide with a nasty attitude; it represents the AVERAGE high tide level is the marker. Those nets are are the ones that make a significant impact of the two dipnet fisheries because the fish have the scent of the river in their snouts and are bound for them close to the beach. (I know I'm going to get flamed for that conjecture but I'm gonna say it anyway so there... plbbbt. )
Timing is the last variable and that's the easiest one to predict due to the escapement charts of mid July showing decent numbers and the end of July showing the bulk. We did have that weird year in '05 I believe when a HUGE bulge of sockeye came in the second week of September but that's a weird exception.
So there ya have it - my forecasting model is based off of a mix of historical data and information that changes on a daily basis. Here's my links and phone numbers if you want to jump in and get your feet wet as an aspiring forecaster of dipnetting....
OTF Index (907-262-9611)
Anchorage Sport/Dipnet Recording (907-267-2510)
Emergency Orders (907-262-9611) http://csfish.adfg.state.ak.us/newsr...=400&submit=Go
Plethora of Historical and Current Commercial Activities: http://www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/regio...n/salmhom2.php
State Wide Salmon Escapement Charts: http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/FishCounts/