New dipnet fishery opens on Susitna River

Published: Jul. 11, 2020 at 1:54 PM AKDT
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Saturday marked the first of six days this year where personal use dipnet fishing is allowed in a portion of the lower Susitna River.

"What's special about today is we've never had a dipnet fishery on the Susitna River ever," Dave Rutz, Director of the ADF&G Division of Sportfish said. "The Board of Fish created this fishery this year at this year's board session to provide opportunities for Valley residents, and Anchorage residents, to fill their freezers with fish - closer to home."

The personal use dipnet fishery is open Wednesdays and Saturdays through the end of the month from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Although dipnetting can be done from either a boat or the shore, the area open to dipnetting is about 19 miles from the closest river access at Deshka Landing, so people looking to dipnet will need either a boat or an airplane to access the fishing grounds.

"The logistics are a little bit more tough," Rutz said. "It's a river that can be tough. If you're new on the river, you probably don't want to run a prop down there. You want to have a jet unit because if you're not good at reading the river and you're a real novice at it, you can have some big problems."

With the new fishery comes a host of unknowns, not just for managers but for dipnetters.

"One of the big things that's going to be interesting to me is, because it's a new fishery, to see how many nets are lost. Because there are so many sunken logs in this river, nets are going to hang up on everything, and I think that when moose hunters go out during low water they're going to make it rich on picking up nets," Rutz said.

Right now, Rutz says he expects dipnetters to catch mostly pinks and chums.

"The later in the year you go, the more fish will be in the river. I looked at the catches from the Northern District setnetters and they weren't that good, so I suspect this weekend isn't going to be that great. I think people will be catching fish but I don't think they'll catch them in big numbers," Rutz said. "Probably there'll be a lot more sockeyes in the river towards next week, end of next week...The last day of the fishery should be pretty good for dipping silver salmon as well."

Rutz says that since the fishery is new, it was started with a conservative approach, but depending on participation and how the season goes, he expects to see proposals to expand the fishery at the next board cycle.

You can learn more about the regulations for this fishery on the

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