dipping the copper first time / directions
I've never dipped the copper, looking to do it this year. No boat, just shore dipping.
Where's the best place to go, park, etc. General directions.
I heard there used to be, maybe there still is, a guy who would ferry you over and put you in a good hole.
What's the best way or easiest way to accomplish good dipping there without a boat?
Well, get onto google and find your way to Chitina. There is a little run down town there. Once you get there, you have a few choices. There are limited places to dipnet from the shore. You can head right through town on the "main" road, not long after that you'll find a bridge. People make their way to the river in these spots and are able to dip net a little. The charter, and where most people go, is a turn to the right from Chitina. This little road goes back a ways to where the charter is. If you are going to do this, you should check their website, http://www.copperrivercharters.net/index2.htm, they have a lot of information on there. They also have a recorded message that gives status updates on the fishing, water levels, etc. The website will tell you what kind of stuff you need to bring, etc.
I would plan on getting there as early as you can in the afternoon/evening and getting a place in line. This is generally done by putting an ice chest with your name on it in line and then hanging out all night. He gets started early in the morning. His costs are on the website. You can get your fish without paying for the charter, but it sure is easy this way. In past years I had a "hidden" spot where I never saw anyone else, and got my fish every year. Then the last few years the secret got out. Now that spot is crowded and there is only room for 2-3 people there. Also we had to pack the fish out, uphill quite a ways. A lot of work.
If you don't want to fish the charter, you can head past that spot on foot or 4-wheeler. I haven't ventured too far down that way, but you can dipnet down there from the shore in a few spots. Check the maps on the copper river charters page.
Dipnetting the Copper can be a lot of fun, but it's also hard work. I've dipped from both shore and boat with mixed results each method. If you're dipping from shore, I don't know there's "one great place" because as the river depth changes, flow patterns and eddys change too. if you go to O'Brien creek and walk, bike or take an ATV up the trail, you can find some places. Some are in the canyon, which is the highest risk-highest reward area to fish. The risk - don't get wet - meaning don't fall in the river. If you fall in anywhere, the chances of getting out or being saved are slim -- in the canyon, even slimmer. The hydraulics of the river (especially along the canyon walls & rocks) amaze people and our frail human bodies don't stand a chance against that water.
As far as I know, no one running a boat does it for free. I think there's two - Hem's and Capt Kim's. Hem has a hotline you can call for water conditions and wait times. Check on line at the Chitina Dipnetters Association.
I've dipped from shore right near the boat charter pick-up at O-brien creek, even waded out to thigh-deep. You'll find it's interesting how the sand erodes from under your feet in seconds. The water also feels different because of the grit in it.
I haven't fished from the rocks of the canyon, but been through there in boats. It's amazing how much rope some people pack to tie off to trees. As was recommended, use google earth - there's pictures on there of people fishing the canyon being tied off. YouTube might have some videos too.
One other caution, there's a lot of private land around the area, mostly owned by AHTNA, one of the native corps. If you're at O'brien creek you can (or used to) pay a trespass fee to walk out to the mouth of the creek. Recommend you do a little research on where public lands are and what's private.