Alaskans from across the state came to Kenai’s beaches today in hopes of netting some salmon from the mouth of the Kenai River. The Kenai River dipnet fishery opened today, and will run until July 31.
Only Alaskans who have lived in state for a year are allowed to participate in the personal use fishery.
Wednesday was windy and cloudy, and on the north beach dipnetters jumped with every wave to avoid getting splashed. Eagle River resident Patsy Hardman has been dipnetting in Kenai before, but she doesn’t remember the waters being so rough.
“We’ve come out before and the water was way more calm,” Hardman said. “I don’t know if there’s a storm coming.”
She said the waves were bringing in loads of debris, which is getting caught in nets.
“It’s bringing in a lot of junk,” she said.
The cooler temperatures also made it difficult to stay in the water, she said.
“I went out for a little bit,” she said. “The guys are taller than I am, and normally I’m out there with them, but not today because it’s kind of cool. We’ve been so hot in Eagle River, like almost 90 degrees.”
In two hours, Hardman said her family had caught two fish.
Dipnetting on the Kenai River is a family affair for many. It’s April Worthington’s first time dipnetting in Kenai. Her family, which includes her husband and six children, traveled from Eilson Air Force Base in Fairbanks.
“Fishing has been OK,” Worthington said. “We’ve only caught a couple, but it’s only been a couple hours. It’s a lot of fun to come down here. My youngest is 7 and my oldest is 18, and the whole family can come.”
It was also Anchorage resident Katherine Green’s first time dipnetting Kenai. She said she and her husband traveled with a group of friends to fish for the day.
In about four hours Green caught one salmon and a flounder, while her husband had caught several salmon.
“It’s going OK,” she said. “We plan to catch as many as we can, and the water is not too cold, which is nice.”
Anglers are reminded they cannot keep any king salmon, and those fish must be released immediately. Dipnetters are also reminded to not drive on the beach, and avoid disturbing the vegetation, which anchors the dunes and prevents erosion. The Central Peninsula Landfill accepts fish waste, free of charge, seven days a week. Fish waste left on public and private property can attract bears and result in fines.
Primary access to Kenai North Beach is from South Spruce Street off the Kenai Spur Highway. There is a large, public parking area but space is limited. Motorized vehicles on the beach to the left of South Spruce Street toward the Kenai River is prohibited. Vehicular access, parking and fires on beach to the right of South Spruce Street is allowed.
Access to the Kenai South Beach is off of Cannery Loop Road.
Dropping off is allowed at all locations. For a $10 fee per calendar day, dipnetters can be picked up or dropped off and park for up to 15 minutes while loading an unloading. Dipnetters can upgrade a drop-off permit to any other permit in the same calendar day and receive $10 credit towards the new permit.
Day use parking is $20 a day, and overnight parking is $45, valid from noon until noon the next day.
Camping is available at all locations, except the dock, for a $25 fee.