View Full Version : Dip Netting

Alaskan Survivalist
03-15-2010, 05:51 PM

There is much to know about fishing before it can be considered a reliable food source for you. What you use, when you use it, how you use it and where you use it will determine what you catch or not catch. Fishing is very species specific. There are as many methods of catching fish as there are species of fish. Most survival fishing kits I have seen would only be used to catch Lake Trout here. Bear in mind that my experience is limited to the waters of Alaska and may not even be legal in most places and may only be useful in a survival situation. Because of the required knowledge I suggest nets for most survivalists but even use of nets require knowledge. For example gill nets are often mentioned but seldom is it mentioned that they to are to catch a specific size fish determined buy mesh size that allows fish to swim into it but not be able to back out because their gills get caught. Small fish swim though and bigger fish just bump into it. Laws regulate all this stuff but for survival learn to think out of the box. Single strand monofilament nets are illegal here because they are invisible under water but for survival…. I have tried to look at this from the standpoint of how someone with limited knowledge could catch fish successful enough to feed themselves and one method stands out as being most simple and universal that is dip netting. I know how to knit nets so I just carry net needle and string to be able to knit what ever I need but a person could easily carry a net in a pack pocket and make a frame for it from branches.

These are 3 of my dip nets. The one on the far left is just the largest landing net I could find with an aluminum handle I added to reach out into river. The middle one is 4’ in diameter that I use from a boat but have since given it away because I found my little boat could push a bigger net which brings us to the one on the right that is biggest allowed by law and 5’ in diameter. The handle is in three sections and had to take one section out just for it to fit in picture. I walk out as far as I can in chest waders and it will reach 30’ past that or I can break it down to work of my boat at shallow depths.


I’m not a sportsman and have to have my fishing activities pay for itself. I am not willing to spend thousands of dollar to catch a fish. I have a small Zodiac and capable of setting it up for long line, pots and other forms of fishing but have it configured for dip netting in this photo. The legal limit is 25 fish per head of household and 10 additional fish for each additional member. That’s about the size of the plastic tub I have.


Larger boats tie dip nets from the side with ropes but with my little boat I would just spin in circles so I stand in the bow a scoop fish out and just turn to dump in plastic tote. My wife steers the boat and cuts the tails off fish to mark them. That’s a legal requirement.


As I stated I’m not a sportsman and my enjoyment of fishing comes from eating it but when you have a connection to where your food comes from the whole experience becomes part of it and is part of the anticipation. Each step is similar to cooking except taken one step further to include picking which fish you keep (another good thing about nets) to how to care for your catch. It’s a eating experience for me and I even bring King Salmon sandwiches on homemade bread for the appetizer.


Heading out, weaving between commercial fishing boats with a cool breeze blowing off the water sure beats the hell out of going to a drive through and super sizing your fries.


03-15-2010, 06:08 PM
Very nice........We subsistence dip net just below the falls on the Russian River.

03-15-2010, 06:25 PM
Nice post, explanation and pictures. Thanks AS.

03-15-2010, 08:16 PM
Thanks for sharing that. Gives some clarity to those like me who have only read about it

03-15-2010, 08:28 PM
Thank you. That's great info. I have never dip netted and never saw it done when I was up there.

Most of the area around here is ponds and rivers. Weirs make a really nice survival method but, of course, it's illegal to game fish that way. Most of the rivers in the Midwest and rock strewn (not all but most) so using rocks to build a weir in the shallows can be pretty quick work. Bank lines and trot lines where weirs can't be built; lakes for example.

I did see quite a few functioning Fish Wheels up there, which I thought was not only pretty danged ingenious but pretty efficient. I think those are restricted to indigenous folks?

Thanks. Good stuff and something else to think about.

03-15-2010, 08:33 PM
I am that fisherman you speak of and also a survivalist...I can see where dipnetting may be something I wanna try even way down south! Great post! Not sure about the inflatable boat with a motor though...on second thought I have never had one! Neat boat!

03-15-2010, 09:01 PM
Do you know how many fish a wheel takes in a day on average? They really are a cool setup.

07-16-2010, 09:07 AM
You know AS, after reading some of your posts, I've come to the conclusion I was either born in the wrong country or a hundred years too late.

Old GI
07-16-2010, 10:20 AM
The mullet killers along the gulf coast use throw nets quite effectively. At least, they used to.

07-16-2010, 12:18 PM
Putting up large amounts of food for later use is my way of wilderness survival. This is what it is like when you live it or plan on surviving the wilderness for more than a week.

DITTO......That sums things up quite nicely.

07-16-2010, 03:18 PM
It's real cool that you still have the ability, both physically and legally to do that up there. :)

Down here guys go to prison for that.... or at least lose all their equipment including the horse they rode in on and get stuck with massive fines and court cost/ attorney fees.:(

07-16-2010, 04:03 PM
How do you store them? Do you freeze all of them of just some along with other methods?

07-16-2010, 08:03 PM
Your daughter sure did a nice job on those fillets. That's some nice looking fish.

07-17-2010, 01:13 AM
I will smoke about a half a dozen filets and freeze the rest. They can always be thawed and processed other ways then. I can fish only when I don't have electricity available like on the Yukon or pre-cooked spreads. I love Salmon spread on crackers or bread. I just found out the belly strips are going to be smoked. I like them for bait because they hold a hook so well but wife and daughter eat them the Alaska native way for knacks. I argued but lost.

Nice looking catch AS. Also see that from time to time you have similar problems up there as I have down here in the south. "I argued but lost" :>)


07-17-2010, 06:38 AM
Nice looking fish.

Old GI
07-19-2010, 03:34 PM
I have Seminole relatives in Florida I have visited that used cast nets to catch mullet. They sure got a laugh out my attempts to cast a net but I know what they can do in the hands of people that know how to use them.

Shortly after I arrived in the FL panhandle and before my shoulder blew out, I said "Hey, that looks pretty easy". Can you spell S-T-U-P-I-D? After trying it a couple times ..... well, I bought the beer that night! (and no mullet).

07-19-2010, 03:35 PM
Dip nets, cast nets and seines can only be used for bait fish, legally. There are a few exceptions for crawfish and smelt but not for larger fish whether rough fish or sport fish. Here in Indiana.

07-19-2010, 10:59 PM
If the s ever hits the fan I'll be learning how to net and trap fish all sorts of ways. Until then I can only imagine what it must be like. It's not the best way, but it's the only option I have. Those are some real nice looking filets AS. Great color, not like what we get in the rivers here at all.

Your way of life seems very appealing to me. You must get a lot of satisfaction out of it. I'd like to see a write up on those halibut.

08-04-2010, 11:47 AM
Looks like you have had some great success with this method. You mentioned that you can make nets yourself. I would love to make a landing net from natrual products and am wondering if there is a favoured material you use for the netting...

I think that catch could keep me going for a very long time!

04-10-2011, 02:53 PM

Hammer net, Pennsylvania Dutch design. The operator of the net would stand in a river or stream. A helper upstream would hit the river bank with a large mallet or hammer (hence the name). The fish would be scared towards the net operator who would lift the net. The fish would drop into the sleeve and would be retreived through a drawstring at the bottom of the sleeve. Tony

Alaskan Survivalist
04-11-2011, 01:40 PM
Interesting frame design asemery. Some people here use a flat sided design to work bottom better. I use round design because regulations limt size to 5 foot in diameter so a circle maximizes area. I also wait for incoming tides. The salmon school up at the mouths and come in with current going thier direction on the surface. I clean up using this method but I love all the theorizing we fisherman share while fishing. It seems we not only share knitting nets but also know the value of a good hat for catching fish.


BTW welcome to the forum!

04-13-2011, 05:14 PM
Here is another frame that was once used for the annual shad run on the Susquahanna River in Pennsylvania. I got an e-mail from a gentleman who had seen the netting I had done for a historical group. He has a similar antique frame and needed netting. The opening of the frame is 53" x 33". Eye screws on the indide diameter of the frame facilitate the hanging of the net.
I made the netting from 6 ply linen thread (38 lb breaking strength). 1" wide gauage. 30 meshes at bottom, 110 meshes at top. bottom 4 rows are double twine. The top 3 rows are double as well using 1 1/4" gauge. Overall length not on frame - 47". I sent the netted bag by mail and was sent back the picture of the net on the frame.
I hope to see the net on display to take a better picture. Tony

04-13-2011, 07:40 PM
Great pictures guys. Thanks.

06-05-2011, 06:44 AM
Great pictures. Missing it all reading. Went dip netting on the Chitina from the shore...that was a harrowing experience. My cousins had at least 50 pounds on me so they handled it well. I got a hold of a medium sized silver that did it's best to show me more of the swift moving river. I decided then to leave it to them. Several Silvers and a few Kings in about 3 hours time. Love the Russian River as well. I imagine the area has changed a bit. Left in '89 after 4 years there. Just wanted to thank yall for the wonderful photos.

10-24-2011, 01:35 AM
easiest way would be to make a breakwater and put nets into the gap
-even the most fish handi-capped could make that work

06-12-2013, 04:18 AM
Dipnetting the Copper River is a rush. Dangerous, tedious, intense, exciting, sleep deprivation, bears wandering the banks, buckets of $$$ for gas and supplies. But it's worth it. Like someone else said, knowing how to dipnet is a good skill to have for when it all goes down eventually. Hooks&Bullets up here has some decent videos showing you the ropes of dipnetting and whatnot. Worth checking out. Can't seem to post the link, but if you google How to Dipnet at for Salmon at Chitina you should find them at the Alaska Fish + Game site.

06-12-2013, 04:49 AM
Welcome, SalchaPatriot! Care to make your way over to our Introductions section?


06-12-2013, 02:03 PM
Yay, another Alaskan.