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Thread: So You Want To Dipnet... (for newbies)

  1. #1
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    Cool So You Want To Dipnet... (for newbies)

    Okay, so we got through the first part of my dippin' education how I predict when fish will arrive; now for part two -

    Techniques, Gear and Other Stuff

    There are two main methodologies for scooping fresh sockeye from the ocean; from a boat and from the bank. Two totally different ways to do the same thing. Let's first hash out the details and preparation one must complete before attempting each. Now is the time that I make mention that there are a thousand ways to do just one thing and I do not have all the best ideas nor do I claim that what I do is going to work best for you. Once again, variables change the results. If you have more than one person, for instance, you may have a "system" down for catch, bonk, gill and clip tails. Or you may be like myself, gimped up; relatively stubborn and bring money to pay others to do the heavy work... whatever the case may be here are a few tips for preparing yourself for the 'dip trip.

    Boating: although the regulations state that a 5' diameter hoop is allowed it is not advised for dipping from a boat. The shear mass of the net in the current can exhaust the dipper in no time flat and especially when the fish are running well and the dipper is active. There are varieties of all kinds from home made to manufactured for smaller nets and they all catch fish. I have had success with a home made net that is very light weight (3/8" solid aluminum for a hoop and lightweight concrete float handles) so I use my net for both shore and boat dipping. It's a square net but it works quite well for me. Now we get into the square vs. round dilemma; which one is best? A few things to consider first; how are you transporting your net? Is it in the back of a pickup or on top of your Suburu Forrester? If you have a square net (usually measures by what's called a "carpenters square" 3 feet by 4 feet will give you a 5 foot cross measurement) it can easily be manipulated to fasten to a roof rack, not to say that a round can't but the round shapes seem to be a bit tougher for packing/stowing. Also, if you are like myself, I stay in the water with my (shameless plug here) Kenai Keeper so that I don't have to make 65 trips to the shore and back into the water. I catch, bring the net to myself and bonk (just hard enough to take the fun out of the fish) and then rip the gills and thread them on my stringer to bleed them out. After about 30 fish are stacked up I gingerly float them to the shore and begin the task of clipping tails before stowing them in the cooler. Others have the surf journey and go through their own rituals of sometimes filleting the fish (that's a no-no by the way per the regs) before getting back into the drink to yard out another unsuspecting sockeye. I usually catch more fish than everyone because I don't lose precious time and energy by being on the beach; often times I can catch another fish while my net is in the water and I'm threading a fish onto the stringer or even before that when I'm pulling it out of the bag. Which brings me to my next point, the round hoops are a bit more challenging to retrieve fish from especially if they are in the middle of the webbing. My father-in-law (Kenai Keeper Jim on this forum) is the round net guy and I'm the square next to him. He usually catches more fish than I do (okay, he ALWAYS catches more than me) and this I've attributed to a voodoo hex of some sort that he had performed on his Mike's Magic Dipnet that he purchased years ago. I'm convinced that the hex was a necessary part of the purchase due to my mother-in-law vehemonently opposing the purchase... but back on point; he is taller than I and has a longer reach so the round works quite well for him. I would estimate that if you measured your reach into a dipnet that you could accurately tell if your going to be able to fetch your fish easily or you if you may end up getting soaked in the process. Which brings us to the next phase, clothing and accessories...

    I'm not able to bring myself to purchase a survival suit; I'm sure that the once a year use would be valued but they are so expensive that I just can't bring myself to do it. However, THAT is the ONLY way that you are going to keep from getting wet if you dip from the shore. It seems, though, that it gives one an air of over confidence as I (and many others) have had to get ourselves wet to extend our dipnets to a floating hand that is wearing a dry suit or similar covering. It's an art to do what those guys do; and by "those guys" I mean the crazy animals that just grab a hoop (no handle) and FLOAT down in front of the rest of us that actually like to feel the ground beneath our feet. This is not a technique that I recommend to anyone. I've talked with a few of those guys and they are ex-Navy Seals and Coast Guard personnel; the tids, river current and bottom structure of the mouth are a tricky thing to negotiate so please take my advice and don't do it.

    So for the clothing aspects, some people think that waders are optional - these hardy individuals are usually missing a few connections between their brain and nervous system or have consumed a hydraulic breakfast (beer, whiskey, vodka, paint thinner) and decide that the Kenai is plenty warm for them. I tend to disagree so I use the following; breathable waders (so you can layer up or down depending on temps), gauntlet gloves (this is important because when your elbows get wet and you reach up for any reason the water will drain down your sides and go directly to your feet and when you remove them it will magically dry up everywhere but your crotch giving others the illusion that you are too good for an outhouse), a hat of some sort (I'm going to start wearing goofy ones just for dipnetting, please feel free to join me) to protect you from the aerial assults from the bajillions of sea gulls looking for a snack, spare changes of everything you wear, and the ability to layer up or down for the schitzophrenic weather that Kenai and Kasilof seem to have.

    Sunblock is a must. I recently found out that a dear friend of mine has Level II Melanoma one of the most serious and deadly skin cancers there are. If you don't know it is similar to smoking in that it can be prevented with some education and a habit of using sunblock when outdoors. She's at that fragile state right now being at a level 2, it's unknown as of yet if it's spread to her lymphatic system and we're praying for the best. If you're the praying type; her name is Becky Limberg and I say thanks in advance for your prayers to heal my friend. But moving along, we should also discuss your gear and a checklist to start off with. The checklist has been posted here many times and there's a lot of very interesting and important items to bring with you; please do a search to find those lists and pick/choose which ones will best fit your needs. My checklist is as follows:

    Dipnet
    Bonker
    Kenai Keeper
    Fillet Knife
    Knife Sharpener
    Small Zip Ties
    Sunblock (SPF 30, anything above really doesn't offer any more protection)
    Spare Net
    Waders
    Clothing
    Wader repair kit
    Food/Snacks
    Water/Gatorade
    Tent/Sleeping Bag/Air Mattress - Battery Pump for Air Mattress
    Coolers/Ice
    Gardening Shears for clipping tails
    Permit and Sharpie (this must be filled out before leaving the beach)
    Sunglasses (polarized)
    Hat(s)
    Paper Towells/Hand Sanitizer
    Large garbage bags (for wet clothes, waders, wading shoes)
    $$$$$$$ for parking, fees and muscle
    Ziplock bag for Wallet (yup, there's nothing worse than drying that sucker out and everything in it)
    TP - You just never know if the potty can spare a square)
    Wagon or sled (to pull your coolers/gear in case you don't want to pay someone else to do it like I do)


    Well there ya have it, in a nutshell this is my way of doing dipping. I hope this helps some of you that interested in trying out the wonderful privledge of dipnetting.
    "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city." ~ Proverbs 16:32

  2. #2

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    I'm having a hard time envisioning your "stay in the water, pull in fish, bonk, bleed, stringer fish" technique. First, I assume you must be fishing in the standstill-area and don't ever do the shuffle, correct? How long of a handle do you use? It seems dragging the net back toward you 20 ft, and shoving that length of handle back to shore would be both tiring, but also difficult to do while assuring the fish stays caught. Do you flip your net 90 degrees so as to trap the fish or are all your fish more or less caught by their gills? I can see all the advantages of your system, not the least of which is how many fish you catch, but some of the mechanics seem daunting to my imagination.
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  3. #3

    Default Thank you!!!!

    A huge "thank you" from not a total newbie but someone who always learns sth new. First off, you need to keep this and put it in a book. Some parts had me literally laughing out loud, others made me go "I wish I could watch how he does this".
    The magical procedure of bonking and stringing your fish while in the water is something I really want to learn, because I lost about 5 fish pulling them out to shore last weekend. With my short arms and the round 5' hoop I am not sure if I'll ever get it.
    The good side of running back to the beach is it keeps you warm, especially when you are enveloped by dense fog, like we were all last Sunday afternoon. It took two of us to catch 15 in 6 hours and the changing of the tide was when most of the action happened. The people around us were not doing much better, but it's always fun, regardless.
    I'll be keeping your friend in my thoughts. High doses of Vitamin C and lots of green leaved vegetables can boost her system, but make sure she does lots of things that give her joy; nothing scares cancer more than the will to live.
    Again, thank you for such a superb post. Wish I had had this in 2002, when I dipped for the first time.

  4. #4
    Member TR's Avatar
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    Default

    I understand why you'd think this is dubious Nickster.

    I've seen it done next to me. Maybe by Robb? Was low tide on the north Kenai. Long flat of mud between us and the hard beach. Draging the net to the beach was a chore. I quickly became jealous of his skill. I've pulled fish out of my net before fearing I would lose it if I dragged. So it possible to learn it.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by TR View Post
    I understand why you'd think this is dubious Nickster.

    I've seen it done next to me. Maybe by Robb? Was low tide on the north Kenai. Long flat of mud between us and the hard beach. Draging the net to the beach was a chore. I quickly became jealous of his skill. I've pulled fish out of my net before fearing I would lose it if I dragged. So it possible to learn it.
    Not really dubious, just having a hard time imagining ME doing it, I guess. I think I'd be soaked head to toe, lose more fish than I stringered, and whack a bunch of people around me with my net in the process. I'm still new to dipping at all, though, and I DEFINITELY appreciate all Rob is sharing. Maybe if I happen to see him (or, no doubt, one of his soon-to-be-many followers, I'm sure) doing it, it'll aid me. I'm very visual.
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  6. #6

    Default Removing fish while in the water

    When you watch someone else do it, you'll catch on quickly.

    I learned at the Kasilof out towards the green can watching a Korean guy just as calmly as ever pull the fish out of the net and put them on his stringer. He was loading up while everyone else was thrashing around going back to the beach.

    As many of you know, it can be a long slug through the muck on the north side when the tide is in if you're going to go to the beach every time you get a fish. When the fishing is hot, you spend all your time walking back and forth from the beach to your spot.

    BTW, if you are going to stay in place, I recommend a mesh bag with a drawstring instead of a stringer, as the Kasilof reds can have a pretty soft mouth after a while. I've lost a few from the stringer that way.

  7. #7

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    Ok, I'm preparing myself mentally to become a convert...so, as you pull the net toward yourself, are you lifting it to try and keep the fish entangled and down below the hoop? That's the part I'm stuck on. I always pull the net after turning the hopo perpendicular to the bottom to try and capture the fish if it isn't held fast by its gills. I have seen others lift the net, but that's with smaller, rectangular nets.
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by gr8fl View Post
    ...
    BTW, if you are going to stay in place, I recommend a mesh bag with a drawstring instead of a stringer, as the Kasilof reds can have a pretty soft mouth after a while. I've lost a few from the stringer that way.
    I heard this elsewhere on the forum. Would a net also work, like the ones you use when you fish with your pole and bring the fish into the boat? Or do you use those bags that hunters use to carry the meat? I am not sure what to get.

  9. #9

    Default In river fish extraction technique.

    Quote Originally Posted by nickster View Post
    Ok, I'm preparing myself mentally to become a convert...so, as you pull the net toward yourself, are you lifting it to try and keep the fish entangled and down below the hoop?
    You can leave the fish in the water without trying to lift it out. The hoop can come out of the water, but you don't have to lift the fish.

    1. When you feel the hit, turn and pull at the same time so that the fish is kept in the bottom of the basket. Your speed is enough to start the process.
    2. When your hoop reaches you, with your free hand gather and grab and close off the net above where the fish is. It is now caught. Unless it is real small, it won't get out. You can take your time and catch your breath and be thankful that you don't have to walk to the beach.
    3. Hold your pole under your armpit if necessary, and grab the fish from the outside of the net around the back of the head just aft of the gills to hold it steady.
    4. You can then begin to open up the webbing of the basket, get in there and pop some gills, grab it from behind the head again from inside the basket and transfer it to your safe keeping system.

    To some people's dismay, I do not bonk 'em. I break the gills and they bleed out longer.

    ~tr

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by kww View Post
    I heard this elsewhere on the forum. Would a net also work, like the ones you use when you fish with your pole and bring the fish into the boat? Or do you use those bags that hunters use to carry the meat? I am not sure what to get.
    The system I like is the big, green duck decoy bags that have mesh in the bottom and straps like a pack. They have a quick-zip drawstring thing and work dandy. I got mine at Sportsman's warehouse. They are not cheap.

    The best thing about the decoy bags, though, is that they are just big enough to put two of my round or octagonal hoops in for transport. Anyone who has walked a trail at the Copper knows what it is like to get your net constantly snagged on your way to and from the dipping site. They also keep the sun off the webbing if you're storing your net outside in the off season.

    I'm sure a regular landing net would work fine as long as the mesh is small enough. You could easily rig a line around the opening and a clamp to keep it closed.

    ~tr

  11. #11
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    Default It's really easy, actually.

    Gr8fl has got it... but I'll explain my technique since I'm the joker that started the thread

    When you feel the fish hit, SHOVE the net forward then pull back to yourself several times, this catches gills, fins and the tail up pretty good.

    Then you get to pull the net back and peer over your shoulder (when you are learning) to make sure it stays where you want it. The voiced concerns on this issue are true; you can lose your handle behind you if you are not mindful and create a tripping hazard for other dippers; something you will hear about right after the splash. I've put spray foam in my handle ends to make it buoyant so I can keep track of it and also give myself better odds for retrieval if lost.

    Next you get to pick your fish. This is a basic concept but like fly fishing takes some finesse to really master. As mentioned by Gr8fl, it's wise to grab the webbing around the fish and pinch it tight to get a good whack at the noggin. Don't hit it too hard, you only want to subdue at this point, not slobber knock them into the great beyond. Depending on the snarl, I typically start at the tail and free up the fins before I work on the head. The most common tangle is behind the gills and you can effectively work the fish out with some creative tugging and pulling on the webbing; careful of the creative vocabulary though, there are children present.

    Once the fish has been freed from the net, pinch their gills from the top to hold them steady and maneuver them to your stringer. Once on the stringer you can rip some gills and finish them off by bleeding them out.

    Your dipnet is now ready for the next phase; rinse and repeat until you have achieved the desired effect.

    I'm not going to lie to you; I've had a few people try my Kenai Keeper and just didn't develop the knack for it. They still use my stringer but in different ways. I've used it for a few different things, mainly for dipnetting but also on the Russian due to the three foot rule of stringed fish and also for hunting; the pin can easily be inserted through a tendon and hoisted for skinning a quarter at a time.

    Good luck to all of you and if you see me; I'll be the one in the water with the stringer of fish yakin' about my wife, kids and doofus of a dog. I'll be down there this weekend with some stringers with me for those that may be interested.
    "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city." ~ Proverbs 16:32

  12. #12

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    Thanks Robb and gra8ful...I can see it more clearly now and will give it a try. I really appreciate your (and others') time and effort put into helping folks out with their dipnetting. I'll post my own results, shenanigans, and foibles later this month when I'm off work and can head down to circus. (And I appreciate your literary flair, Robb. Your posts are not only most informative, they're a heck of a lot of fun to read.)
    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  13. #13
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    Default

    So, how do you handle a fish that hits on the outside of your net? I catch about 25% of my fish on the outside of the bag.

    And how do you get the those Kasilof torpedo fish out? The ones that are stuck in one mesh cell up to mid body. Those take forever to back out of the cell. Can't imagine fussing with that in the water.

  14. #14

    Default Squirters

    Fish that hit the backside of your net have to be scooped by flipping the top of the hoop in the direction the fish is headed so you don't just dump them out the bottom. On a calm day at slack tide on the Kasilof you can see fish wake going back and forth across the river and upstream and downstream and all over the place.

    The little Kasilof reds that are stuck up to the dorsal fin are best pulled straight through the rest of the way from the head. Be careful of the gills to not injure them and you can often just let them go.

    ~tr

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    Thumbs up Another tip I forgot to mention

    Quote Originally Posted by gr8fl View Post
    Fish that hit the backside of your net have to be scooped by flipping the top of the hoop in the direction the fish is headed so you don't just dump them out the bottom. On a calm day at slack tide on the Kasilof you can see fish wake going back and forth across the river and upstream and downstream and all over the place.

    The little Kasilof reds that are stuck up to the dorsal fin are best pulled straight through the rest of the way from the head. Be careful of the gills to not injure them and you can often just let them go.

    ~tr
    Gr8fl; you and I are very similar in our style, methods and perspective, if you are going to be on the Kenai this weekend, send me a PM, I'd like to dip with you.

    You are spot on in your response (but of course I'd say that, we have carbon copied methods)

    Grasping the fish and pulling them the rest of the way through is a sure fire bet that they can swim up to someone else's net; it's fun to say to your close "friends" that you just had that fish and threw it back 'cuase it was too small (that's what you say when they bonk it and shuffle back to their cooler.... baby killers.)

    The method I posted and will repeat (no hitting please) is that you shove the net back and forth quickly about 3 to 5 times to tangle them up. You are going to lose fish, it's just part of fishing; but it works very well for me.

    You did remind though, to post another tip:
    Once you feel the fish hit the net, if they are mid-bag or higher they will surface on the opposite side of the hoop, the logical thing to do at this point is to rotate the net the opposite direction they surfaced on and drag it back to the bank. Lifting you net is a BAD idea; there are many a fish that escape due to inexperience and overly enthused dippers. There's a term for these folks; DUNCE (Doesn't Understand Nets Can't Elevate) the lifting of a net out of the water is awkward to say the least and you put yourself into a very precarious position; falling, water draining down to your ankles, and generally looking just plain silly. DON'T BE A DUNCE.
    "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city." ~ Proverbs 16:32

  16. #16

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    Thank you Robb and Gr8fl. We'll be heading back down there on Sunday; I'll be the one pulling wet pages out of the wader and reading instructions that I failed to memorize :-) Thanks for the good info and great writing!

  17. #17
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    Don't be a DUNCE. LOL

    Yeah seen the lift method debacle, course no help for it you're in a boat.

    I'm a dragger. The exercise warms me up a bit and my kids like to bash the fish. (plus the vodka bottle is by cooler if need be) The first thing I do when the fish hits is yank the pole and start draggin while pulling the pole in. Then I tip the net WITH the current. The foreging is a half second action. If in the bag, the fish has been yanked towards the end of it. If outside, the fish is trapped between the net and bottom. In both case it spins around enough to further tangle itself. I always keep positive perpendicular movement on the net to the beach with the net down. Pull the net completely out ot the water and a few feet further. Seen fish flop out in one inch of water never to been seen again. Of course this is not perfect and I loose fish on occasion

    Now I'm interested in the push pull first method Robb and GR8FL are talking about. Look forward to trying it.

    T-minus 4 hours. Plan to be on the road. Camping at Coho Cove for 3 days. From there we can hit the Kas or Kenai as mood takes us.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by kww View Post
    Thank you Robb and Gr8fl. We'll be heading back down there on Sunday; I'll be the one pulling wet pages out of the wader and reading instructions that I failed to memorize :-) Thanks for the good info and great writing!
    I can see it now, several of us out there trying this for the first time...

    "Did he say two yanks forward, then three back?"
    "No, three each way!"
    "Pull the hoop OUT of the water or leave it IN??"
    "No, dive UNDER the water to grab the fish!"
    "I can't read my notes!"
    "DUNCE!!!"

    "The Gods do not subtract from the allotted span of men's lives the hours spent in fishing" Assyrian Tablet 2000 B.C.

  19. #19

    Default H.O.T.

    Heading Out Today

    I'll be at the Kasilof tonight through Sunday afternoon, possibly with an open seat on WaveEater2, then Sunday evening with the original WaveEater with an open seat for sure, then Monday-Tuesday at the Kenai with no open seats.

    Check my albums for a visual and give me a shout if you're there.

    I normally have my 1975 Dodge Tioga motorhome, but it's tired, so I'll be driving my 1980 Chevy plow truck with the bed converted into a wood hauler. The truck is really ugly; pastel blue rust with a pastel green rust stripe on the parts that are actually metal.

    BTW, my Copper River Escapement website will not be updated until I get back to town.


    ~Tony Reetz

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    Default You guys crack me up

    Quote Originally Posted by nickster View Post
    I can see it now, several of us out there trying this for the first time...

    "Did he say two yanks forward, then three back?"
    "No, three each way!"
    "Pull the hoop OUT of the water or leave it IN??"
    "No, dive UNDER the water to grab the fish!"
    "I can't read my notes!"
    "DUNCE!!!"

    Here here, good humor is always the best approach.

    If you have been following my other thread, the FishinPhysician and I called a good escapment day the other day; the weather was insufferable on Tuesday and was blowing HARD from the SW; we both conjectured that would result in a good day in the mouths; Tues night they began their run and by midnight last night the counter hit the 50k mark.
    "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city." ~ Proverbs 16:32

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