Ford Falcon ready to fish

Access Issues

photo submitted by David Sutherland

The Chitina Personal Use dipnet fishery lies within the boundaries of the 7.6 mile long Chitina subdistrict management area. CDA works to ensure public access (where permitted) is maintained whether via the Copper River Highway Right-of-Way (CRHR) or river access by boat.

Access to the fishing areas has become increasingly complicated over the years. The Copper River Highway Right-of-way overlays private property owned by the Ahtna and Chitina Native Associations. Everyone accessing their fishing spots off O'Brien Creek road via land is crossing private property to do so. Much of that access falls within the CRHR, but not all of it.

The Right-of-Way's width provides legal access to most, but not all fishing areas across private property. This has been a long-time bone of contention between the property owners and fisherman. All of us can help out by respecting their property.  This includes packing out everything you bring in when dipnetting (leave no trace), respecting culturally sensitive areas, and not crossing private property that isn’t covered by the CRHR.  Maps will be posted soon with more details on points to access the river.

Reliable and safe boat launching areas have been a longtime concern of fishermen. Unfortunately, the Copper River is a large and wild river that frequently changes its contours. This makes it very difficult to build a durable launch ramp. CDA has been working with other stakeholders on it, but nobody has much of a budget to work with for such an installation. As above, access across private land not covered by the CRHR is also a sticking point to making a good launch area a reality.

Many river users start their adventures from the O’Brien Creek parking and camping area.  This area is relatively small in size, but does have room for vehicle parking and folks have been known to pitch tents next to their vehicles.  The area on the north side of the jersey barriers is accessible without having to pay for a permit. 

The O’Brien Creek parking and camping area is also where the charter boat operators pickup and return clients each day they are on the river.  At the present time, there are two companies offering charter services; Hem and Copper River Charters and AK eXpeditions.