Schedule: Personal-use dip netting for salmon in the Copper River at Chitina is open continuously through midnight on July 6. Openings beyond that will be announced next week based on sonar counts at Miles Lake.

Sonar Counts: As of Wednesday, the cumulative sonar count for the season at the Miles Lake sonar 70 miles below Chitina stood at 807,979 fish, which was more than 350,000 above the preseason projection for that date. During the week of June 16-22, there were 105,666 salmon counted past the sonar. That was 47,133 more than was projected for that period, falling just shy of the 50,000 surplus needed for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to declare a supplemental period allowing dip-netters to catch an extra 10 fish. The daily sonar counts for the past two weeks have been well above preseason projections, ranging between 10,000 and 18,000 fish a day. So far this week, almost 42,000 fish have passed the sonar , which is double what was projected. “We should see consistent counts over 15,000 for next couple weeks,” said area biologist Mark Somerville at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office in Glennallen. That bodes well for supplemental harvest periods two and three weeks down the road, he said.

Fishing Report: The Copper River rose considerably on Wednesday and Thursday due to heavy rain and dip netting success dropped off as a result, charter operator Mark Hem of Hem Charters said by cell phone on Thursday just before noon. “It really started slowing down,” Hem said. “There are still a couple of spots catching fish but the majority of spots are getting slower and it’s probably going to be that way through the weekend. It’s not going to drop that fast.” Though it’s still running on the low side, the Copper River is as high as it’s been all year, Hem said. Somerville, at ADF&G in Glennallen, said “the change in water flow is going to change the dynamics of fishing.” Fishing typically slows down shortly after the water rises and picks up again when it stabilizes, he said. When that will happen is anybody’s guess. “If the weather holds like this I’m thinking next week might be pretty good,” Hem speculated. 

 No King Salmon: Dip-netters can no longer keep the one king salmon they are normally allowed as part of their annual bag limit. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game prohibited the retention of king salmon in the dip net fishery as of June 16 because of what appears to be a weak Copper River king salmon run.

Dip Netting Hotline: For the latest scoop on what’s happening at Chitina, call Hem and Copper River charters’ fishing report at 823-2200. You can also call the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Glennallen at 822-3309 during business hours to see what they have to say.