The Kenai River dipnet fishery opened yesterday, and will run through July 31, welcoming droves of personal use dipnetters to the shores of the Kenai beaches.
Only Alaska residents with a personal use permit are allowed to participate in the fishery, which allows people to wade into the river with a net and scoop up fish for their freezers.
Anglers are reminded that they cannot keep king salmon, and that they must be released immediately.
On July 7, more than 12,000 late-run sockeye salmon were counted at river mile 19 of the Kenai River. Over 58,000 sockeyes have passed through already this year, in comparison to about 32,000 last year.
While dipnetting on the Kenai beaches, be sure to stay off the dunes, don’t drive on the beach and avoid disturbing the vegetation. The vegetation anchors the dunes, which in turn help prevent erosion.
And remember, the tides can be fast! Dipnetters on the shore should be cognizant of the tidal shifts, which can create unexpected hazards.
A successful fishing trip is usually coupled with a big clean up.
To avoid fines and attracting bears, dipnetters should not discard fish waste on public and private property. The Central Peninsula Landfill accepts fish waste free of charge, seven days a week.
Dipnetters can access the beaches from the north or south.
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.
Beyond dipnetting, fishing for sockeye salmon on the Russian River has continued to produce fair results. Bag limits returned to three fish per day and six in possession on Sunday. Kasilof River sockeye is fair, but expected to improve.
King salmon on the Kenai River is slow, with high water conditions and debris in the water. The Kasilof River king salmon fishing is better, but still just fair.
Rainbow trout fishing on the middle and Upper Kenai River is reported to be excellent and there are plenty of local lakes to catch rainbow trout, Arctic char, landlocked salmon and Arctic grayling. Be sure to check recent trail closures due to the Swan Lake Fire before heading out.