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Crazy Alaskan Fishing on the Copper River,

May 31, 2013

                                                      

This is the long handled, back-breaking net you will need for capturing the best-tasting salmon in the world, known throughout the pacific northwest as Copper River salmon. Oh, sorry, but you also have to be an Alaskan resident to partake in dip-netting, but you can travel along with me now, Alaskan or not.

Dip-netting on the Copper River is one crazy experience, and the first time you see it, you have to think these people are absolutely nuts. This is a huge, fast-moving, dirty, glacier-fed dangerous river. Yet, there are people standing up to their waist in this torrent, holding long-handled nets, looking quite silly. You have to think, what are the chances of anyone netting a fish in this vast river? But it happens.

To have a successful trip, you first need patience, and a big long-handled dip-net. The handle alone is usually about ten feet in length with a huge landing net at the end. You either stand on a rock with your net braced at the bottom of the river, waiting for a fish to hit it, or wade out into the swift river praying not to be swept away. At times, there are so many people lining the river, you need to fight for a decent spot. It may look impossible, but it’s amazing how many salmon are dipped out on a good day.

I recommend only doing this fishing with a good friend or two because the odds of hitting one of them in the face with your net full of fish is highly likely. The other reason is it can get cold, boring, and bone weary waiting for a hit, and you need a  friend to pass the time. It can take several hours of standing, simply holding that long old handle, and pushing it down into the brown water, and then it is a madhouse with everyone having a fish in their net. Yes, that is when the fish in the face happens.

It is an unforgettable trip to Chitna, and one of the best parts of summer for many Alaskan.

My personal trip to the Copper River can only be found in: The Wild Side of Alaska, coming soon to Amazon.

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