I was all set to write the much anticipated Last Frontier Garden edition of “Advanced Rules for Dipnetting,” as promised last year. Then I went dipnetting last weekend and discovered that a good 25% (the Last Frontier Gardener only uses made up statistics) of people on the beach either had never dipnetted in their life or were under the impression that dipnets were weapons and we were attending the beach version of a jousting tournament.
Instead of roses and handkerchiefs being thrown around, it was red salmon, fish bonkers, and epithets. I feel I must, for the sake of posterity (or at least my dental work) put off the advanced rules and go with bare bones basics (again) because somebody is going to get maimed. Surely you intermediate dippers can wait another year.
Ways to ensure your neighbors on the beach will be miserable and that you are a first class dip:
- don’t prepare beforehand. Forget about packing extra gear for a change in weather or in case you fall into the water, firewood, dipnetting accessories (i.e. empty milk jug, rope, pliers, socket wrench, filet knife, ice, cooler, fish bonker). You can beg for what you forgot. We had two beggars solicit us this trip: firewood (“grandma is getting cold”) and empty milk jug (“I can see I need one of those things for my net. You need yours?”). Um, yes, but go ahead, we have an extra.
chest waders, you will want these
- don’t look around before you insert your net into an opening on the beach. Just haphazardly jam that thing into a 6-inch space between people, if the current is strong and dragging the nets into each other, so much the better. Points for standing still if you are in a walking area or trying to walk in a standing area. Bonus points for ignoring swearing of neighbors or ugly glances in your direction.
- have no idea how to process the fish once caught. Ignore those that look competent, especially those that have bled the fish by yanking out some gills and are gutting fish within hours of capture. By all means forget to put fish on ice as soon as possible after gutting.
- be unfamiliar with the dipnetting regulations. Opening and closing times, harvest limits per person/family, allowable fish species, tail clipping requirements, who needs it?
- be absolutely as loud as possible as late into the night as possible. Extra points for drunken, expletive laden rants near tents with children’s toys nearby. More bonus points if you leave litter behind. Beer cans, water bottles, and disposable gloves were biggies this year. You win the dip award if you drive a four-wheeler around tents after midnight. Be sure and shine your headlight directly into the tents for a minute or two. Rev the engine.
Reading this list over, I can see it may come off a little grouchy. (Well, I feel like a saint seeing as how I wrote nothing about a request to clean the outhouse seat off if you’ve been on a bran binge as a courtesy to those behind you, dancing in line.) But things just work better when everyone is on the same page. One hopes fewer threats of violence and accidental impalings at the very least. The Last Frontier husband started getting into arguments with egregious dips and we were only on the beach for 22 hours. Time to go!
(for a general idea of what dipnetting is, see here)
Slipped up on a rule? Want to add one? Just glad you’re not Alaskan?