Dipnetting in Chitna
I was curious to know how the dipnet fishing around Chitna was. The wife and I were wanting to head down there this weekend and see if we can catch some silvers. Anyone had any luck with this so far in that area?
Also, I read that the Chitina Subdistrict is open for the rest of the sockeye run until the end of the month and it would switch over to primarily silvers until the end of September. Does anyone know if it's ok to catch silvers before September 1st?
This will be our first time at dipnetting and any information you could give us would be greatly appreciated.
First, make sure you get your permit from Fish and Game before heading out, you can also get them at many local vendors in your area, but this late in the season, do some calling first to find out who has some left.
Second, check previous posts as to what to bring as there are many good suggestions here that will make your trip a lot more comfortable and enjoyable.
Third, My understanding is that HEMís is shutting down operations on Saturday the 29th four the year. There is still a lot of good fishing until the end of September, but for your first trip I would strongly suggest chartering with them. This is coming from probably the cheapest sucker in the entire state and for years I would not spend the $100.00 for a charter, but my last time there I sort of had to, and have no regrets whatsoever. You should always call their Hot Line to check conditions first regardless of if you are using their charter service or not. Believe me, it is no fun to drive some 300 miles down there just to find the river too high to do anything else other than drive back home, and they will be up front with you and let you know if the trip will be worthwhile or not. As stated, I believe the charge is $100.00 each at this time, but a party of two, they do knock some off for to the best of my knowledge, and again, the money is well spent. I think you can find their number under Copper River Charters on the WEB, or somewhere in Chitina Posts here within the past couple of weeks. The two outfits that do this partnered up a few years ago and as I recall they both use the same number for their recorded message. I would suggest you get there as early as possible to OíBrian Creek and wait for them to arrive and catch an early charter. Rule seems to be that the first nets laid against the boat from the windshield forwards are taken in order of trips out. If you charter with them, you park in their area and do not have to pay the parking fee as it is part of your charter.
Fourth, unless there has been some change I am not aware of, you can catch Silvers at any time, it is just the Kings and Steelheads you have to release. If I am wrong, someone please correct this.
Fifth, be prepared for any and all kinds of weather, sometimes all in the same day or hour.
I donít know about Mark Hemís partner, I am sure he is just as good or Mark would not have partnered up with him, but Mark is terrific. What he did the time I went is pull the boat into one of his favorite places for each group, step out with a net and catch a fish to show you it was a good spot and how to do it, then you chose to stay there or go somewhere else. Just tell him what you want and he will do the best he can for you.
If you decide to go it alone, there are places you can walk into, or four wheel into and the fishing is good, but humping a pack load of fish up the cliffs is not for the faint hearted. You can also sweep in certain areas and basically drive right to them, but sweeping is a lot of work. Keep in mind that the Copper is deceptive and potentially very dangerous if you make a mistake, so donít make a mistake, take advise from people like Mark and do a lot of watching of those that are having success and you will do just fine and have a ball. Unless you are an experienced four-wheeler, I would not suggest going past the slide on the other side of OíBrian Creek, but if you know what you are doing it is no big deal, or wasnít the last time I was there. Also, donít take a low slung, long wheelbase car into OíBrian Creek staging area. Most vehicles and trucks have no problem, but some of the ruts can be deep enough to scrape bottom.
Lastly, keep the area clean and let us know how you did.
Valley Trash, and proud of it.
Thanks for the very informative post. I called up Hem's and they said that the fishing lately has been rather poor and kind of sounded like they didn't have much luck with silvers. That's what I'm really interested in. I'll check with ADF&G later today and see what they have to say about the area.
Any idea where silvers might be running other that Chitna?
Not dip-net-able, but the long-awaited hatchery silvers have finally arrived in the Port of Valdez.. For what ever that's worth. (Yes, Valdez is a long way to drive for a sport-fishing limit on hatchery fish..)
They're reportedly catching them off of the City Dock again, though I've yet to hear reports of them jumping into unattended boats in the the Harbor, as they've sometimes been known to during banner-year runs/returns in the past.
Though the Valdez silvers are often notably larger than wild stock (which I've noticed tends to be true of many hatchery fish, including comparisons of the mixed hatchery/wild stock reds in the Kenai, vs. Chitina reds; and I have some hypotheses as to why), I've also found the Valdez silvers to be a tad bit 'grainy,' or, in a different sort of description of similar features, having smaller flakes of meat than other larger-sized fish/salmon.
(Yes, I've smoked 'em, eaten them fresh, pickled, etc., and am now, officially, a salmon snob. Don't get me wrong; I don't turn down Valdez silvers, but I rarely go out of my way to find 'em, either. Though they're still plenty good for a memorable fight for the sports-fishing folks. ;^>) )