It’s time for the annual Banks family Alaskan dipnetting update for 2022! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ve explained the dipnetting process here and even shared our salmon recipe if you want to know how we cook it.
Each year, because I’m me, I calculate how much we pay per pound for our salmon in our big dipnetting adventure. To be clear, we don’t entirely do it because it’s cheap. I LOVE dipnetting. It’s my favorite sport. It’s my favorite holiday. It’s is quintessential Alaskan life. I love it so much. I digress. As a reminder, last year, we caught 33 salmon for a total of 77 pounds of fillet meat which cost us a total of $2.53/lb.
Before I get to the numbers, let me explain how this year was a bit different. Dipnetting each year runs from July 10-31. This year, my daughters had a youth camp July 10-15 they attended 2 hours away. I chaperoned the camp the first night, meaning July 10-12 were off the table. We hate going on weekends because it’s really crowded. And we will be out of town for the last two weeks of July. That basically left us with July 13-15 to go dipnetting. This is pretty early in the season and fish counts are pretty low that early, but it was the only time we could go. We also realized just a few weeks before going that the tides those days were really high, so camping on the beach, while still possible, was dicey at best. So, because this is our Year of Yes, we booked an AirBNB close to the river (so yes, the click-baity title should more accurately have said “lifestyle inflation, not actual inflation, made this year more expensive”… but who would click on that?!). This significantly raised our costs, but from a time perspective, it was fabulous because we processed and vacuum packed our fish at the AirBNB between tides and came home with our fillets ready to go into the freezer! (Processing and packing usually takes another whole day upon return. AND, don’t worry, the AirBNB binder had specific instructions for where to process fish in the yard, so it was totally allowed!)
How Many Fish Did We Catch?
The fish were, indeed, slow, but we managed to come home with 22 sockeye salmon, and the tides let us fish from 9-11 pm which is my FAVORITE time to fish. It’s so peaceful and the sun is setting at 11 and everyone has to stop fishing at 11, so you have people on the shore counting down the minutes yelling: “4 minutes left, get back in there!” So, the second day was very slow. We had caught 3 total fish that day, but it picked up for the last 20 minutes of the night and we caught 6 just between 10:40 and 11 pm. It was so exciting and communal. (Have I mentioned I love dipnetting?)
The girls caught 6 of our 33 last year, so we didn’t have them helping us out this year, and Lui is more interested in digging giant sand holes than in fishing (he’s still too small to hold the net without help), so it was back to just being the two of us fishing. On one tide, I only caught one fish, but it was gigantic (pictured in the header image) and gave us our two biggest fillets of the year (35.3 oz and 35.2 oz)! I was surprised when we weighed them all to see that this year’s salmon fillets totaled 74.5 lbs, just 2.5 lbs less than last year’s 22 fish, so this was a year of pretty big fish!
How Much Did it Cost?
I know, you want me to stop talking about the fishing and get to the NUMBERS! I get it. Here we go:
- $40 – Fishing licenses for Mr. T and I.
- $16 – Ice to keep the fish cool after catching.
- $300 – AirBNB for two nights (camping would have cost us $60, so it was spendier, obviously)
- $86.65 – Gas for the car. This is significantly more expensive than last year as gas is currently around $5.50/gallon in Kenai and $5/gallon in Anchorage (down from nearly $6 a few weeks ago!)
- $31.50 – Drop-off and parking fees to dipnet for the two days.
- $13.50 – Vacuum Bags for the FoodSaver for packaging up the salmon fillets
- $12.17 – Blizzards at Dairy Queen for Lui, Mr. T, and I on the way home. This is cheaper than last year because we didn’t have the two girls to buy them for as well!
Total Costs: $499.82
Total Cost Per Pound: $6.71
This is our second most expensive year, with making 2020 our most expensive price per pound at $7.15/lb as we bought a smoker that year. But we filled our freezer, had a fabulous time, and came home with totally processed and packed salmon, so was totally worth it this year with so little time between fishing and travels. Have I mentioned I love dipnetting? 😉