Early birds catch the kings; Cook Inlet halibut heating up

Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 10:35am  |  Updated: Jun 30 2016 - 3:42pm
Fishermen fish during the incoming tide on Sunday at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit.

Last week was amazing for numerous fishing fanatics pursuing fins on the lower peninsula — especially if they were able to drag their gluteal regions out of the horizontal position at quasi-dark-thirty.

Unless you have a vampire dangling from a branch of your family tree, it won’t kill you to start flinging lures around dawn’s early light.

Turk and Willie went after the silver beasts gliding up the Anchor on June 22, and claimed they stepped through a time warp straight into the halcyon and nostalgic days of primo fishing.

They arrived before dawn had a chance to yawn and were home before it peeked one sleepy ray over the horizon, stunning fish and a striking end to a super chinook season on the river.

As for me, I was sent on a mission to supply fresh fillets so my bride could employ her culinary expertise when it comes to morphing a slab of king into an epicurean delight that makes one feel more hedonistic with each savory morsel.

I’m not usually dispatched on such a solemn mission but her oldest sister from Ohio was coming to stay with us for a few days and we didn’t have a perch or a bluegill in the freezer so chinook would have to do.

It meant, of course, that I would have to hit The Hole around 02:30 and watch Tom-The-Fish-Master make me look like a kiddy pond novice while he launched his double-secret stinky stuff to limit out before I could get a hook in the water.

It’s always a humbling experience but I’m used to it by now. Normally I do just fine after he’s finished and kicks back with a fine cigar to critique my technique after getting my assurance that I’m unarmed.

Things went well and her sister, who is a slight lady, ended up consuming enough sautéed barbecued salmon to make a grizzly envious.

I hope the word doesn’t get around the Buckeye state referencing my bride’s gourmet skills. She has enough siblings back there to field a football team so I’ll be in deep guano if they abruptly show up during the coho runs.

’Nuff said.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of week of June 27 to July 3.

Regulation Reminders and Emergency Orders

Snagging is open in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi. Under an emergency order issued on June 30, snagging will be open in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (Fishing Hole), starting noon Friday throuigh 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 4.

China Poot personal use dipnet fishery is open July 1-August 7 upstream of the ADF&G markers. Personal use caught sockeye salmon must have both tips of the tail fin removed. Complete regulations are found on page 16 of the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulation Summary booklet.

On July 1, the lower portions of the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Stariski Creek open to sport fishing except for king salmon. Reread those last four words.

Kings may not be targeted and if hooked, they must be released immediately. Gear is limited to one un-baited single-hook artificial lure.

Lingcod season opens July 1. Anglers are reminded that the bag and possession limit of these delicious but stone ugly critters is 2 fish and the minimum legal size is 35 inches.

The marine waters of Tutka Bay Lagoon within 100 yards of the hatchery net pens are closed year-round to sport fishing for any species. Snagging is allowed in Tutka

Ninilchik River
Hatchery-Only King Salmon Emergency Order

The Ninilchik River is open from the mouth of the Ninilchik River to an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately two miles upstream to fishing for hatchery king salmon. The bag and possession limit is one hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater in length and 10 hatchery king salmon under 20 inches. Only one un-baited single-hook, artificial lure may be used while sport fishing in the Ninilchik River through July 15.

Saltwater: Halibut

Halibut fishing in Cook Inlet is getting better as the flats rumble back into the shallower summer feeding areas where they don’t have to work so hard to pig out and where some nice hawgs are starting to be hauled in over the rails.

Herring rules as bait but hunks of octopus, squid, along with salmon heads and seductive jigs are being slammed too.

Saltwater: Salmon

Trolling success for chinooks is reported as pretty good around Bluff Point, Point Pogibshi and off the South side of Kachemak Bay.

While angling for kings, anglers are reporting catches of chum, pink, sockeye and our fighting friend the coho.

Downriggers are the key for hunting in deeper water. Small herring trolled behind a flasher or dodger will get the shiny predators fired up. Some may prefer to use spoons, various colored hootchies and tube flies.

Kings are continuing to enter the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon but fishing has eased to “fair” status. Do not despair, silvers should be arriving soon and the party will start to rock again.

Salmon eggs or herring suspended under a bobber along with various colored spinners continue to work especially around two hours before, during, and two hours after the tide changes.

Note: The scofflaw population of tight-liners and bobber snaggers seems to be growing every day out there. One late morning 18 of the 33 pole holders lining the lagoon were using snagging techniques favored by mental stumps who otherwise couldn’t catch a guppy back stroking in a shot glass. I’m starting to prefer the seals. At least they know what they’re doing.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be challenging and a hoot. Species such as Walleye pollock, Pacific cod and a variety of flatfish are not noted for their high IQ and will snap up most anything you throw at them other than a despised in-law that won’t go home.

Fresh waters

On the Ninilchik River, a large return of hatchery-reared kings less than 20 inches is expected.

Don’t forget that kings less than 20 inches are not included in the Cook Inlet annual limit of 5 and the daily bag limit for chinooks of this size is 10 in freshwater.

Expect fair fishing for Dolly Varden in the roadside streams. Give the Dollies a try with small bright single-hook spinners or a fly pattern that resemble fish such as muddler minnows or egg patterns.

Shellfish

Razor Clam Emergency Order

All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are closed to all clams through December 31, 2016.

The next clamming tides run from July 2-8.

Razor clams can be found on beaches along the west side of Cook Inlet and are accessed by boat or plane. Popular razor clam beaches include Crescent River, Chinitna Bay and Polly Creek. Boaters should use caution before traveling across the inlet because of strong currents and should check weather forecast before traveling.

Littleneck (steamer) and butter clams can be found in gravel beaches on the south side of Kachemak Bay from Seldovia to Chugachik Island.

Good numbers of butter clams are found on the islands in China Poot Bay. Butter clams can be found up to two feet deep. Littleneck clams can be found in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. Try exploring new beaches for success. Typically, littleneck clams are found shallower in the substrate, up to eight inches deep.

All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay remain closed for 2016.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.

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Lupin bloom at the head of the bay

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