Let’s just get this out of the way … I got zero fish. The Nelson Fisherman’s Luck Continues. That wasn’t even the worst part about the weekend.
This weekend, I attempted to go dip netting for the first time. Dip netting, if you remember from a couple weeks ago, is the salmon fishing that involves quite literally dipping a net into the river, and bringing up the fish. For my first time dip netting, I hooked up with a co-worker and lifelong Alaskan who does the thing more for feeding his family then the sport. Me? I just wanted to do it and bring home a big cache of fish.
The plan we had was simple. The main dip net site was where the Kenai River met the Cook Inlet/Pacific Ocean, a three hour drive from Anchorage. My fellow newb, Laura Sherman, and I were going to head down Thursday night, crash in our cars, then hit the beach with before the incoming tide on Friday Afternoon with the help of a bunch of my co-workers. Things started to fall apart when she got held up working on her car, and we were caught with the tough decision of leaving without her or staying in Anchorage and drinking — I made the run south, she got drunk. I ended up sleeping in the car – the pup was with me, but he felt more into climbing all over me, whining about being in a weird place, and getting alerted by every drop of rain outside. Which brings us to the real problem with Friday, the rain, the steady sprinkling of rain that went on the whole day.
Still without word from the Sherminator, I hooked up with the co-workers, we set up a rain tent, and got our gear set up. Setting up is not to be underrated – the gear itself was not at all small. Five foot diameter net, poles at least ten feet long attached to the net, then coolers for the fish, chest waders, rain flys, chairs coolers of stuff to get you through the day, and whatelse you would want with you. There is a single road heading to where the fishing is at, and with the crowd trying to get out there, it meant that there were a mass of people dumping gear, picking up gear, or anywhere in between. It was that, or hauling it the half mile from the parking lot. Then once you were unloaded, you still had to drag that stuff the last stretch onto the beach, get your stuff all together and hit the water. You then sit in water as deep as you want to go, let your net just hang in the river, and wait until a fish literally swims into the net.
Now’s a good time to say, it rained all day on Friday. Constant wet rain.
Here’s the thing, though, I loved my time in the water. When I got out there, the river was heading out at a pretty slow pace. There were some fish, but not many. Enough that we all had hope. Where we sat, the ocean was literally a couple hundred yards away, and we were chest deep in it. We knew that the fish really start coming in when the tide comes in, and we knew it was going to come about an hour and a half after we started, but weren’t sure how we would know it was time. Turns out, we really knew. During one of the coolest points during the netting, we watched as our nets just first seemed to shift directions … just a little … just enough that a couple of us were saying we thought we snagged the nets on something because they flowed the wrong way. Then they really filled up. In 10 minutes, we were moving closer to shore due to the tide, and our bodies were leaving a wake. Fish were coming in better then, and we tried our best to position ourselves right enough to get it.
In the true hit or miss nature of dip netting, people around me were doing great and I wasn’t. One co-worker pulled up 5, another person nearby had 8, and I got zero! I literally saw two fish swim into my net, and somehow I missed them. By the time we called it quits for the tide, I was soaking wet from the rain, on the third set of shirts for the day (of which I only brought three), and hadn’t heard from the Sherman Tank yet. The pup spent the morning in the car and was now cranky from staying perfectly dry inside the nice warm car away from the rain and ocean .. which gives him reason enough to whine and whine and whine. And THAT’S when I found out my iPhone was ruined by water. Knowing I had to take care of the phone, the pup, and the day – I made a run for it back to Anchorage.
But I tell you what, the worse part of the dip netting took place over the next 48 hours. It took me all day Saturday to take care of my phone, and by Sunday I had too much to do to make a run back. My friend, Laura, arrived at the beach after a day of further car trouble just as I was arriving back in Anchorage – by that time the sun was out, and was setting beautifully. She had an awesome weekend, and may limit out with 25 tonight. She talked about all these cool people she met, the experience of being out there, it sounded like it was wicked awesome. And I was stuck in the house watching my phone load up all its crap.
So that was my weekend … the glimpse of greatness that was dip netting replaced with all the annoyingness that went along with it.