Hooligan fisherman rescued from Turnagain Arm mud flats after sinking to his waist

A man was rescued from the Turnagain Arm mud flats Sunday afternoon after his leg became trapped while he was fishing for hooligan, emergency officials say.

The man, who was not identified, sank into mud up to his waist at the mouth of the Twentymile River, according to officials with Girdwood Fire and Rescue.

The department responded to the area around 1:30 p.m.

Bystanders tried to free the man for almost an hour before calling 911, the department said in a release. Eight firefighters responded. Once they got there, it took 14 minutes using a water rescue tool to free him, officials said. He was released to relatives after responders evaluated him.

Sunday’s call for help was the second mud rescue call of the season, the department said. The first person was able to self-extricate.

The brief hooligan fishing season — it ends at the end of May in saltwater, mid-June in freshwater — brings scores of fishermen to the area, the most popular place for Anchorage residents to find the small, oily fish often scooped up in dipnets. People park along the Seward Highway and fish on both sides of the road or make the short walk to the riverbank.

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Rescuers offered tips for fishermen and others to make sure they don’t need to call for help, starting with a warning: Turnagain Arm mud can be unpredictable and safe spots to stand can change.

Other tips:

- Know how to free yourself from mud and know the tides in the area.

- Call 911 quickly if you are stuck up to your knee.

- Fish with a buddy and be sure to stay in an area with cellphone communication.

- Keep spare dry clothes and food in the car.

- Make room for emergency vehicles on the Seward Highway.