|After our morning walk with Zac, we walked down to the Kenai River Bridge. There's a wonderful walkway down to the river. We watched some of the fishing. Talked to some young men from Oregon who were cleaning their catches.
It was our intention to do some hiking today within the Kenai Wildlife Refuge here in Soldotna. We enjoyed the visitors' center. It was there that I learned that we did not see a Ptarmigan last week on Bear Mountain. It was very likely a Spruce Grouse. There was minimal hiking here. We walked down to Headquarters Lake. It is used for the float planes of the refuge.
From there we went to Kenai (city). We parked at the visitors' center and walked to the beach access. We spent a couple of hours observing the dipnetting at the mouth of Kenai River.
Dipnetting is for Alaska residents only. Each head of household is allowed 25 for the season. Each additional household member is allowed 10 for the season. We talked to different people and learned various pieces of information. We had to be careful where we walked because the beach was littered with fish carcasses, heads, and entrails. : ( I asked someone who cleans the beach. He said the tidewater comes in and takes much of it, and the gulls and eagles take care of it as well. It was interesting to us that the gulls were not on the beach.
Caught fish were being handled in a variety of ways. Most folks were cleaning and filleting there on the beach. Some were putting the entire fish into a cooler. Others left them lying on the sand. After noticing people cutting an angle off the fish tail before storing them, I asked someone why. If stopped by Fish and Game and found to have so many fish, the cut tail indicates that it was from dipnetting. I see a lot of loop holes.
We marvelled at the young women who participated in all aspects -- netting, killing, filleting, etc. The young children entertained themselves with various fish parts including fish heads as though they were toy cars.
We have continued to hear varied numbers regarding the fish count so I went online to see the posting. Sunday achieved a record one day total of 230,000+, Monday was near 175,000, and Tuesday was around 80,000! The counter is several miles upstream so these numbers are the fish that escape the boat nets, dipnetters, and pole fishers. The goal is to have 700K to 1.4 million make it upstream. Because the fish count has been so high, some rules have been loosened. People can catch more fish, and the dipnetting has been opened for 24 hours. The concern for Fish and Game is to protect the King spawning that has already occurred. If too many reds and later silvers go up, then that might disturb the egg nests (redds) of the Kings.
We watched fish skim the surface of the waters racing upstream. The fish were practically jumping into the nets. As you can see from the pictures, the dipnetter just stands there with the net in the water and waits for a fish to bump into it. That's basically what happens with the pole fishing. Bait is not typically used to hook a salmon. The salmon are not hungry. They don't eat once they start this migration to home waters. Most pole fishers are using a piece of yarn on a hook. The salmon strike out at the hook from frustration with the obstacle in the path.
It is all very interesting.