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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A little thing we call Dip Netting

Every July something fantastic happens at the mouth of the Kenai River. Thousands of Alaskan residents converge on the Kenai River to take part in the subsistence dip net fishery. I personally haven't participated in quite a few years. I get my salmon on rod and reel, but thought that some of you may want to participate via the Internet. Like catching any fish, it can be addicting. Some would argue the dip netting isn't too sporty, this usually comes from the mouth of someone who hasn't dip netted before. You can do it from the river bank or from a boat. A boat is the way to go if you have one available. If not, you are stuck in the ranks with some of Alaska's finest white trash. There is a large majority that treks down from Anchorage and will camp on the beach for a week at a time. They smell and use language that would make a sailor blush, I find this adds to the ambiance. I will narrate through the following pictures.

This is somewhat of a typical dip net setup, there are size and net regulations.

As you can see above, most of the time you are shoulder to shoulder with your white trash neighbors. You can see all the Seagulls flying overhead waiting to drop a load on some poor unassuming victim's head. It's a small price to pay for fish.

Once a fish hits your net you will feel the fish struggling for life, that is when you turn your net sideways and boogie up the bank.

You then release the fish from the net and whack it. There is a brief explanation on fish bonking in a previous post.

If Lady Luck smiles upon you there will be plenty of fish to go around. The head of house can get 25 fish and each other member of the family can get 10 additional fish. The Erik Massey family can get 65 fish, yeah that's right 65. We don't eat that much salmon, in fact we only eat about 7 a winter. Like I mentioned before, I just get mine with my fishing pole.

This is somewhat of a typical setup for cleaning the fish. Some people will use coolers, plywood or like this guy 2 quads and a board. After the fillets are packaged away the carcasses are thrown onto the beach.

The carcasses are great fuel for the seagulls, that's right pooh makin' machines those seagulls. Don't worry, the fish will be swept out to sea where nothing will go to waste. In fact, most likely, halibut will feast on the carcasses and get good and fat. That's when I catch them on my boat, the circle of life or death. Sounds a bit morbid but if you are from Alaska it seems pretty normal.

Just one last note. Rotting carcasses on the beach stink. Sorry if I have offended anyone with this post. No... I am not sorry. I like to eat fish. ~Erik


Nancy said...

You know you are an Alaskan red-neck when...I went dipnetting too this weekend, my first time. I just had to look around and laugh at the craziness. I like your photo documentary of this uniquely Alaskan experience:)

Dana said...

I love it!! YOu didn't hold back at all. I get so sick and tired of all the "political correctness" out there. Oh lets be careful not to offend anyone who doesn't eat fish. That is what Alaska is all about and if people don't like it then they shouldn't live in Alaska. Love the picture of Angela and the kids showing us how bad it smells.

The Dorman Family said...

I am slightly affended, as I have yet to addmit my "white Trash" status. But we fish from the other side, I think thats a step up :) Miss all those fish though, cant believe you guys dont eat more in the winter!

Jamma said...

That is so cool....This Californian just learned something very interesting about Alaska and fishing. I love all of the pictures especially Angela and the girls...their faces tell it all. Love you all!! Aunt Diane

Smedley Family said...

haha! very good tutorial! couldn't of explained it better. we actually thought of going yesterday, and maybe today, but thought the weekend trip sounded better. as crazy as it seems, it's addicting and almost a game trying to get as much salmon as you CAN. whatever we don't need we give away. but we agree, "hillbilly fish'n". . . yee-ha!

Rachel said...

you guys are seriously the coolest. I wish you lived next door.

gio said...

Erik this post makes me want to go to Alaska and fish! Or better yet, why don't you come to Idaho and fish???