Living Alaska: Dip netting, a 20-something’s key to survival

Living in a world that is constantly changing is exhausting. Sometimes it leaves me yearning for consistencies; the kind that keep you grounded and give you a sense of security in a time of your life when everything from your career to the dollar amount in your bank account is uncertain.

Lucky for me, I have salmon.

I’ll never go hungry, no matter how broke I am or how uncertain my future is. And that brings me great comfort.

Keeping up with the cost of living in Alaska is nearly impossible for a young journalist. I definitely did not tap into one of the state’s more profitable industries. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but budgeting for the things I love — like peaceful adventure, travel and good food — is a challenge.

So for the cost of a tank of gas and a fishing license I eat some the nation’s best meat all year long and get to go on a wonderful adventure.

The only catch? I have to catch it.

My supply is running out though. And whatever is left in my chest freezer is nearly all smoked to make room for a fresh catch.

Thank goodness it’s almost dip netting time.

On July 10, the Kenai River personal use salmon dipping season opens for the rest of the month. Thousand and thousands of fishermen will pile into vehicles — with their coolers, rain gear and extra-long dip nets — and head to the Kenai River over the course of the three week-long season.

I’ll be right there with them.

Dipping season is the most wonderful time of year. Each fish I pull out of the water is another meal, a healthy treat for my dogs, and brings on a feeling of pride. I earned this meal and like all great things in life, it’s meant to be shared. It will fill my stomach when my bank account is empty.

Next week, I’ll begin my week-long Alaska summer vacation — I’m sort of fishing my way around the Peninsula. I’ll pack my rain gear, rubber boots, my favorite Led Zepplin T-shirt, a couple of books, a bottle of wine, my toothbrush and my baseball hat in plastic bags, toss it into the car and head down the Kenai Peninsula.

I’ll slip into my nearly brand new, bright yellow rain gear, fill a thermos full of coffee, and wake up with Kenai River water spraying in my face as we bounce to the mouth in an aluminum skiff I’m fortunate enough to be offered a seat on.

Our boat will travel in between other boats, all of us squished into the same areas like sardines in a peel-back lid can. I’ll push my net into the water, hold it steady, fighting back against the weight of the river, hoping to pull at least one sockeye from the water each time I bring my net above the surface.

When we’ve all met our limit, we’ll head back to the cabin where the fish will need to be filleted and properly packaged, so we can store and keep our freshly caught fish for the next 12 months, until we are able to repeat the process.


About Redden Custom Netting

In 1958, John Redden started Redden Net Co. Ltd to supply commercial fishing gear to the fishing communities of the Pacific Northwest. Now, more than fifty years later, we have an in-house net loft staffed by professional, experienced net builders – and our executive team has more than 100 combined years of experience in every facet of industrial netting. So no matter what industry you’re in, if you need a net, we can build it.

Over the last fifty years, our technology, applications, and materials have become more complex, but our business philosophy remains simple. Treat employees and customers – right.  We do. And we’ll do it for you.

Phone: 1.800.667.9455 (Toll Free)
Email: [email protected]