Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dear visiting dipnetters

To the 10,000+ visitors headed down to the Kenai Peninsula this weekend to hit the mouth of the Kenai River and dipnet for red salmon to stock their freezers I have one request - please be respectful. I know, it's the biggest party of the summer for a lot of you. Camping on the beach, there's ample opportunity to drink too much and play a little too loud. Most weekends, that works out great, but when you look at the sheer size of the camping group it becomes dangerous.

So, please, be respectful. Pick up after yourself, catch and kill what you are legally allowed to - don't practice sadism by catching other types of fish and torture it before throwing its corpse back in the water. Keep the crime in your city of Anchorage, don't bring it with you. Kenai has it's own share of delinquents, we don't need the big city's problems as well. So if you feel like you need to have a knife fight, take it home. You're here to fish to supposedly provide for your family, keep that as the only priority.

I know it's hard to use common sense when you're cold, tired, maybe drunk or hung over, but don't go out farther than you need to. Trying to wade into the middle of the mouth of the river will not ensure you catching more fish. News flash, they typically run closer to shore. Our first responders are too busy dealing with knife fights and drunk and disorderly - they can't be floating up and down the water 24/7 to rescue your butt.

With that in mind, don't overload your boat and swamp it. You lose everything, a lot of waste happens, and it's expensive for our town to rescue your butt.

Take your time getting here. I know, I know, the best camping spots go early - but if you're traveling this weekend to get here I hate to break it to you: they're already taken. I was down at the beach the other day and folks are already parked and camped. Sorry, you're too late. So stop playing chicken on an already overly dangerous road system. There are 10,000 of you coming this way, you want to get here, right? So take it slow, give other drivers their space, and enjoy the drive. It should be the least stressful part of your dipnet experience.

When you get to town, don't treat it like a Tickle-Me-Elmo sale on Black Friday. No fights need to happen in the checkout line because the last case of Miller Light, or the last bag of Doritos was taken right out from under you. If you HAVE to have the "fun stuff" bring it from home where your big city has several major box stores that have shipments almost daily. We don't.

Yes, I know we know you're coming. Yes, I know we can be prepared. We are, but it seems like you come in like locusts taking everything! It looks like a warzone in Fred Meyers the entire month of July. That isn't us, that's you. We do our best to host you, try and be a nice guest for a change.

Speaking of locusts, we have tried very hard to accommodate your camping needs, you food needs, your walking needs. Follow the signs. Don't destroy a VERY DELICATE ecosystem just because you can. You don't have to live with the consequences, we do. Maybe if your property taxes went up each year to deal with the extra cost of taking care of the mess you'd think differently - but, then again, I doubt it.

Take your limit and leave. Yes, we see you - taking a few extra. Or worse those groups - who I won't describe for fear of the PC police coming down on me - that get dozens of extras to use in their family owned restaurants. Uh-uh. That's not what Subsistence fishing is. This is a PERSONAL USE thing. You want to sell the fish or cook it up for pay? Yeah, you need to go to the COMMERCIAL FISHERIES. We have several in our area you can go and pick up from.

I know, I come off as sounding crazy angry. It's not just because my 20 minute commute will double for the next three weeks. It's not because I can't use the beach in relative quiet. It's just that this has gotten ridiculously out of hand in the last few years. Yes, I know it's not JUST people from Anchorage - the locals get nutso, too. And trust me, I rant about our issues just as much. But TEN THOUSAND extra potential problems arise when you arrive. So PLEASE, for the love of all things holy, BE RESPECTFUL. Let's make this a positive experience this year. If you promise to play nice, I promise not to rant about you next year.

"They're like locusts... After they've consumed every natural resource they move on..." - President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman, Independence Day)

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