Watch out, salmon: Nick has a new rod and reel

The summer season has now tip-toed through the apogee of daylight hours and commenced to leisurely dim the skies by pilfering sunshine until the autumn equinox assumes command of our march into lengthening darkness.

I certainly have no qualms about this turn of the seasons because the fishing gets hotter as the silvers commence their dance and the heftier halibut move in to do battle.

Fish smokers begin working serious overtime while canning jars are flying off the shelves faster than lies around the cleaning tables.

At the moment, I’m sitting here listening to chilled-out instrumental blues while contemplating a major change in my fishing method.

When I had less gray proboscis hair and joints that didn’t sound like milk-activated Rice Krispies, my chief piscatorian weapon along the streams and lakes of the high Cascade Mountains was my grandfather’s ageless bamboo fly rod that sported 50 percent of its original eye guides with cleverly bent and secured metal paper clips filling the gaps.

The pole came with an equally antique reel featuring the functional reliability of a heavily medicated sloth.

The outfit was baboon-butt-ugly but we became a fish-killer team until I entered college and willed it to a cousin who promptly lost it in a river.

I haven’t seen him since, but that might have something to do with a tenuous threat to employ him as a grappling hook the next time we crossed paths.

I switched to spin casting soon after we came to Alaska because of its versatility of techniques, the exhilaration of hard slams, and sizzling drags, but now it’s time for a change.

My wife just surprised me with a beautiful new fly rod along with a superb reel as an early birthday present.

Turk and Willie surmise that my impending refresher training will be a howl.

Hey, if my, back-in-the-day, lightning reflexes and velvety presentations don’t kick in and are lost as that elderly bamboo pole, it really won’t matter. I’ll still be fishing and when it comes to those two clowns, I can still whip their keisters using twine, an alder branch and a bent safety pin.

’Nuff said.

Now let’s take a look at this week’s fishing report.

Regulation Reminders: Snagging will open (except for the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon) in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi on June 24.

It’s very important and a possibly a big time, money saver to check out the sport fishing regulation booklet prior to wetting your lines.

If you’re heading out to chase kings in the Cook Inlet salt waters, take a gander at pages 70-72 of the publication.

If you are thinking about taking on some the freshwater chinooks, you better absorb pages 64-66 for the Anchor River; pages 66-67 for Deep Creek and page 69 for the Ninilchik River. Check out the end-of-king-season dates twice, if you have a really short memory span.

The hatchery king season will run from June 16 to Oct. 31 on the Ninilchik River. So far anglers report poor to fair fishing. See page 69 of the regulations summary for more details.

The hatchery king is distinguished from a wild king by the adipose fin. Hatchery kings are missing their adipose fin and have a healed fin clip scar.

You should know by now that steelhead trout must not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Keep in mind that a king, 20 inches or longer, that is removed from salt or fresh water must be retained and becomes part of the bag limit of the person who hooked it.

If you decide to hunt rockfish, remember that while you may retain five rockfish per day, only one may be a nonpelagic species (see the pretty chart on page 90).

Lingcod may not be harvested until July 1. All lingcod caught accidentally must be carefully released and may not be punctured with a gaff. This doesn’t mean that they can’t take chunk out of your hide for being an obnoxious annoyance.

Saltwater Fishing — Halibut: Early-season halibut fishing remains downright decent and some larger halibut are hitting the decks.

Unguided anglers can retain 2 halibut a day, 4 in possession. Regulations for guided anglers can be found by following the link in the “Regulations Reminders” section.

Saltwater Fishing — Salmon: Trolling success for feeder kings continues to be sporadic throughout Kachemak Bay and Upper Cook Inlet.

Boat captains have reported catching chinooks in a variety of locations including Bear Cove and Point Pogibshi in Kachemak Bay to offshore of Anchor Point in Upper Cook Inlet. Trolling success for mature kings has been poor in Upper Cook Inlet.

Down rigging small herring in the trail of a colorful flasher or dodger has been working well, as have small thin blade spoons and large spoons.

Try setting your downrigger at various depths between 15-90 feet.

Kings are continuing to enter the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon, although the action has backed off a bit.

If a plug-cut herring suspended under a bobber doesn’t get their blood up, try salmon eggs. I’ve seen some fish on the tables that were so full of bait fish that they must have hit the eggs just to get rid of the aftertaste. Red or Blue Vibrax spinners are a good bet too.

The chinooks are continuing to enter the Seldovia Lagoon. Hit them during the incoming tide with bright spinners, herring or shrimp.

There have been a few reports from Halibut Cove Lagoon suggesting that few fish have returned this year.

Other Saltwater Fishing: Angling off the end of the Homer Spit can be productive if you are into Walleye pollock, Pacific cod, a variety of flatfish that vary in taste from delicious to power hurling appalling.

Trollers for kings have been reporting catches of rockfish. Both Bluff Point and Point Pogibshi have been producing these black, dark, dusky and mouthwatering delights.

Lake Fishing: The Kenai Peninsula stocked lakes fishing conditions are good. Most of these lakes are stocked with rainbow trout which, this time of year, are taken on dry or wet flies, small spoons, spinners, or bait.

Shellfish: All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are closed to the taking of all clams through Dec. 31.

Clamming tides run until June 29.

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

Boaters should use caution before traveling across the inlet because of strong currents and check out the weather forecast before traveling.

Halibut Derby Update: On June 12, a $500 tagged fish was caught by Nathaniel Flynn from Rapid City, S.D.

The fish was sponsored by The Sport Shed and caught on Bob’s Trophy Charters.

Plus, there is a new derby leader as of June 16. Dominique Brooks of Maryville, Tenn., fishing with Alaska Coastal Marine and Capt. Chris Andrews on the Nautilus 2 nailed and entered a 229-pound halibut.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tip or tails or semi coherent thoughts you want to share.

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