By my own charting/number crunching I've come up with my own forecasting model based on historical data. This was the second of the two bum years for salmon returns and next year and the succeeding 3 after that will be average to well above average years for the Kenai River Sockeye Salmon. Last year wasn't quite a "bum" year but it was close with escapement below the average, so this season will complete our six year cycle and start over with the new bolstered numbers next July. It's been fun dipping with folks and I've really enjoyed the banter/comments and sometimes hated the feedback but it's all great conversation.
Some parting advice for taking care of your gear and preparing for next year;
1. Hang your Kenai Keeper with a good amount of weight on it; this will straighten it back out. (Per my parnter in grime and co-inventor, Kenai Keeper Jim)
2. Oil your metals that are not Aluminum; this will prevent rust
3. Store your dipnet someplace where the sun and weather will not beat it up; this will cause a lot of holes next year when you dig it back out and the cursing you will pepper the salty air with may be offensive to unsuspecting ears.
4. If you have a wooden bonker, oil/urethane it. The salt water does terrible things to wood. I have been blessed enough to have a nice one given to me that was hand-made by a guy that things I really know how to fish. I don't have the heart to tell him I just know where New Sagaya get theirs...
5. Think about how your season went this year and what improvements you can make for next. Can you get a wagon with wheels? You can buy a kit at SBS I believe and put one together (nice winter project). Did you remember a fillet glove? I bet those stiches will remind you for a while. What about designating a tote or container that keeps all of your dipnet goodies in one spot? Being organized gives others the illusion that you know what you are doing. I've been illusioning others for as long as I can remember...
6. Did you like or hate your net this year? Circle nets MAY catch more fish due to more surface area exposed to fish than others; start your design now so that when dipnetting comes around next year and ends you can start working on it.
7. Join SCADA. http://www.alaskadipnetting.com/ - if you like to dipnet and want to preserve the fishery then be active in advocting the defense of it. I'm usually one to poke a joke at just about anything but this one is serious. There is constant peril at hand when it comes to resource allocation and being involved is the best thing you can do if you like something.
8. Go to BOF meetings. They have free snacks and drinks usually and you may hear someone say something you don't like or do like; showing support in either direction is important for our voices to be heard.
9. PLAN NEXT YEARS TRIP NOW. I planned last year to take a motorhome down with my family in it. I layed the foundation for that plan during hunting season the previous year. They were very grateful that I had the courtesy to provide a warm place to sleep, sandless and relatively scentless potty for little girls and hot meals at a table. If you have three little girls and one big one like I do, this is a great way to keep them happy and you get to enjoy more when the big girls are happy.
10. Please make plans for a sitter or kennel for your pets. Although Fido is ogled over on the beach and amuses the gulls with his limited movement; it's really not a pleasant experience to THINK that you just stepped on salmon guts only to find out that Fido left a farewell card for the gulls.
Well there ya have it. I'll be talking with you all ALL WINTER LONG I'm sure... until next season, happy dipping everyone!