Health Report: Dip Netting Safety Tips and Dangers

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Summer in Alaska opens a new world for outdoor activities, one of those being dip net fishing.

Photo courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game

For residents in the Interior, the nearest fishery to enjoy dip netting is the Copper River in Chitina.

Whether for subsistence or leisure, there are precautions to consider when facing Alaskan Rivers.

On Saturday, a 35-year-old man died over the weekend after falling into the Copper River while dip netting.

Tim Viavant, a supervisor for sport fishing with Alaska Department of Fish and Game, highlighted some of the most important equipment such as a life vest, boots with adequate footing, and having someone else with you along the way.

The Copper River is typically under 45 degrees, even in the summer.

"If you do fall in the river, the water is extremely cold, the current is extremely fast, and having a life jacket gives you at least a chance that someone might help you or you get to shore in time to avoid ceasing up from the cold water." Viavant said.

The most common reported injury at Chitina is cutting oneself with a filet knife. Other dangers include brown bears, which Viavant says to avoid and respect if you have a run in.

The river cannot be accessed by road, so All Terrain Vehicle and trail knowledge is a critical part of the trip.

"People access the fishery using ATVs and there have been ATV accidents. Ride within your limitations and wear a helmet. Be careful of the trail, not all of it is stable or safe to ride on without being an experienced rider."

Dip netting can be fun and rewarding, especially when taking home a cooler full of Salmon, but do not risk safety for more fish.

"No fish is worth dying in the river. So just know your own limitations, so just respect the water and the current and how cold it is."

The Chitina River is not always available for dip netting. For weekly updates on the River, contact 459-7382 or visit fish.alaska.gov .