Elizabeth Stergio carefully cleaned her salmon in the morning rain on Saturday at North Kenai Beach. She was one of many dipnetters looking to bag a bunch of fish on opening day of the Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery.
Stergio’s friend took her dipnetting for the first time almost 20 years ago, and she’s been coming back to fish ever since.
“We learned together,” she said. “I’ve perfected my filleting setup. … My fishing, not so much.”
Stergio made the trip from Anchorage this weekend to dipnet, along with many other fishers who lined Kenai Beach.
She said the fishing was a little slow on Saturday morning. The seals trolling the inlet for salmon might have had something to do with that.
“I’ve seen three separate heads at one time, so I know there are three,” Stergio said. “They’ve got to eat too.”
Among the dipnetters on the beach were Jack and Grace Joan Green and other family members, who came from Anchorage.
“Last year was our first time,” Jack said.
He said his wife taught him a little about how to dipnet.
“I’m more of an angler; I like rod and reel,” he said. “But this is fun.”
Grace Joan said they try to catch enough salmon to last through the winter months, when they cook it all sorts of different ways.
They’ve made teriyaki salmon, salmon fish tacos with mango salsa, lemon-barbecue salmon, smoked salmon dip and salmon cakes, to name just a few.
Raymond and Barb Bradbury have come to dipnet in Kenai for years. They had already bagged three salmon by mid-morning on Saturday.
“Our friends told us about [dipnetting],” Raymond said. “Then we started and … years later we’re helping other people get started.”
Barb said the pair and their kids used to stay overnight in their camper during their summer Kenai dipnet trip. This weekend the Bradburys camped for two nights.
The Kenai River personal-use dipnet fishery is open to Alaska residents daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. through July 31.
This story has been updated.