Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Chitina dip-netting, June 2015

     This past Sunday I drove down to Chitina with my son-in-law, Brian Lotze, to go dip-netting for salmon. Our destination was O'Brien Creek, about 2 miles south of Chitina along the old Copper River and Northwestern Railroad right-of-way. The photo above is a panorama looking upriver from just south of O'Brien Creek.

     This is O'Brien Creek looking towards the Copper River. There is a large relatively level gravel area here for parking and camping. You can see the creek to the right. Straight ahead is where the charter boats pick up and drop off their clients.

     This is the road down to O'Brien Creek. The level of the old railroad grade can be seen at the upper right. There used to be a wooden railroad bridge spanning the creek.


     This view is looking south across O'Brien Creek. Twenty or so years ago when I came down to go dip-netting there was a vehicle bridge across the creek and a 4-wheel-drive truck could make it to Haley Creek, five miles beyond. Unfortunately, the old railroad grade has an unfortunate and incurable habit of trying to slide down the canyon into the Copper River. Now, only ATVs, bicycles and foot-traffic can go beyond.

     There are no electric lines to O'Brien Creek. Everything must be hauled in and hauled out. Any electricity must be generated on-site with small generators. But, O'Brien Creek does have an espresso stand!

     This was my salmon fishing rig--a mountain bike to get to the the fishing site 1.25 miles beyond O'Brien Creek, a pack for hauling supplies to the site and hauling fish back in, and a dip-net with 20' pole. Have you ever ridden a bike along a bumpy mountain trail while wearing a pack and hanging on to a long pole. And the pole had to be pointed straight ahead so it didn't get tangled in the brush along the trail. The Wallendas have nothing on us mountain-biking dip-netters! We were in the minority though. Including Brian and myself there were only five mountain bike to be seen. There were some hikers, but most people appeared to using ATVs. Of course that doesn't count the people taking charters on jet boats.

     This is a nice section of the former road (now trail) just beyond O'Brien Creek. It got progressively worse, with large rocks sticking up through the dirt and gravel in sections, other sections slowly sliding down the mountain, rock-falls from the slopes above, and brush encroaching from the sides.

     One of the lovelier panoramas from a section of trail, looking downriver. Don't let the gentle grassy slope fool you. Just beyond is a drop-off to the river below. The old railroad grade is several hundred steep feet above the river along most of the route.

     Looking down to the river from the trail above our fishing spot. We left our bikes here and hiked/climbed/descended a steep trail to the right in the photo.. Remember, we had to haul the fish back up this slope!

     This is another view of out fishing spot a little further along the trail. That tiny dot in the center of the circle is Brian, already dip-netting at the river's edge.

     Looking upriver from our fishing spot at river's edge.

     Looking downriver from our fishing spot.

     Brian dip-netting at our "hot spot." The Copper is a swift river, pretty much impossible to hold a dip-net steady in unless you can find a back-eddy. At this location if you stuck you pole down about 6-8 feet there was a back eddy you could hold your pole steady in.

     We only stayed overnight--fished about 12-13 hours, and came back with 24 salmon. Not a fantastic haul, but a lot better than getting skunked. You never know how the fishing is going to be.

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