Copper River Dipnetting!

If you’re an Alaska resident, I highly recommend dip netting the Copper River.  Draining the Wrangell and Chugach Mountains to the Gulf of Alaska, this river is packed with the tastiest salmon in the world (largely due to their fat content).  It’s also a HUGE river and an amazing testament to the power of water and Alaska!

I’ve gone with AK-X the last 4 years and had a great experience each time.  The first year I went below the bridge in the personal use fishery, and the last 3 years we’ve gone above the bridge in the subsistence fishery.  While I haven’t used other charters so can’t offer a direct comparison, AK-X has been so great I’ve never felt the need to try something different!  They definitely put us in the fish, are super fun on the boat, entertain us with fun tunes, and make the whole experience super fun and easy!  Easy except for the part where my arms are always tired at the end of the trip from so much lifting fish out of the river!  Ha!  🙂

Above the Bridge – subsistence fishery

Above the bridge is better earlier in the season, and essentially necessitates a boat/charter.  Individuals are allowed 5 kings, which is rad.  Fishing is done within sight of the bridge, so the boat ride is short – both good and bad: less scenic tour of the amazing Copper River . . . and less time spent in transit!

Does it get better than a big Chinook?!?!? Copper River kings have got to be one of my favorite foods!

 

Fishing above the bridge happens right here! Super easy to fillet right off the boat!

 

Dipnetting is hard work 😉

Below the bridge – personal use fishery

Below the bridge opens later in the season and it’s possible to fish from shore or a boat.  Although more expensive to use a boat, it’s a time/money tradeoff and I personally love being able to catch all I need in a half day rather than spend a few days to achieve the same!  Below the bridge, fishing is generally done downriver of ‘the canyon’ and it’s really cool to see more of the river and fish in a more natural setting than above the bridge.

Motoring through the canyon below the bridge – so cool!

 

Oil railroad from the Kennecott Copper Mine days is super cool to see!

Where to camp, logistics planning

There are a few options for camping – both tent and RV.

  • At the river:  Camp near the river so it’s easy access to hop on the charter in the morning.  There’s a campground just across the bridge that’s first come, first serve.  Basic sites but what more do you need?!?!
  • In Chitina: AK-X now operates a campground right in Chitina.  Near the town bathrooms, it’s outfitted with fire rings, power, and is a fun and social environment.  They also rent Arctic Oven tents (pre setup) and 6-person tarps with cots and everything you need . . . definitely a good option if you want easy!  Getting to/from the charter is easy cuz you just ride down with them!  This is also a good option if you’re fishing on your own, or even if en route to McCarthy!

Or you could stay at a hotel in Chitina.  Gilpatrick’s Hotel Chitina is super central and cute/historic!

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