Reeling it in: Fishing for almost everything picks up

What a week, huh?

We were spoiled with a celestial bucket full of summer solstice hours while honkin’ tides served up oodles of panicked bait fish pursued by voracious predators hot on their rudders.

Some fine-looking halibut came across the cleaning tables that would have any fishing zealot grinning like the Cheshire Cat squatting in an overstuffed brailer of herring.

Many of the anglers I spoke with were seriously stoked about their successes but totally dragging butt because the sea currents had been smoking so hard that it nearly took the weight of an engine block to hold the lures on the bottom.

If they failed to limit after targeting the tide swings and laying ambushes for the flatfish just before and after the slack waters, some of the flat stalkers compensated for the ripping flows by drifting with pretty fair results.

It’s always a howl to drop by and watch the action at the prepping tables while listening to tales of herculean battles and moments of mortifying miscues. The latter are usually related by grumps whose biggest catch of the day was their bait.

You may also discover that you’re not the hottest knife in the ’hood when it comes to trimming out a finessed fillet but, on the other hand, not the worst. There are clueless blade wheelers who will make you look like a seafood market ninja by morphing their fish flesh into something akin to a bio mass generated by a Briggs and Stratton powered egg beater.

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

Regulation Reminders: On July 1, the lower portions of the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Stariski Creek open to sport fishing except for king salmon.

Kings may not be targeted and if hooked, they must be released immediately.

Gear is limited to one unbaited, single hook, artificial lure.

The Ninilchik River is open for hatchery king salmon from the mouth to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game markers located approximately two miles upstream and anglers are allowed to fish with bait.

In the saltwater, closed areas surrounding the Anchor River, Stariski Creek, Deep Creek and the Ninilchik River remain in effect through July 15.

Closed area boundaries are detailed on page 71 of the Sport Fishing Regulation Summary booklet. Picked one up yet? No? What’s wrong with you?

Snagging is open in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi except for the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (Fishing Hole), which only opens by emergency order.

China Poot personal-use dipnet fishery is open July 1-Aug. 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 13 of the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulation Summary booklet.

The rockfish harvest is gaining steam as the season progresses. Both Bluff Point and Point Pogibshi have been producing black, dark and dusky rockfish.

Don’t forget that while you may retain five rockfishes per day, only one may be a nonpelagic species.

Lingcod season is open July 1- Dec. 31: two per day, two in possession, must be at least 35 inches long with head attached or 28 inches from tip of tail to front of dorsal fin with head removed. Use extreme caution if they come up grinning plus they don’t take kindly to being petted.

Saltwater Fishing for Halibut: As mentioned previously, halibut fishing is good and larger halibut are hitting the deck.

The extreme low tides last weekend resulted in lower than average fishing pressure. Probably because you could end up totally spooling out your line in an attempt to reach the bottom.

This fishery will continue to amp-up as more ’buts arrive from deep, overwintering waters to shallower summer areas where the living is easy and the prey dumber.

Herring remains the heavy hitter as the go-to bait, but octopus, squid, salmon heads, and bright white jigs with reds eyes will also kick start their gluttonous cravings.

Unguided anglers can retain two halibut a day, four in possession.

Saltwater Fishing for Salmon: Trolling success for feeder king salmon has geared down throughout Kachemak Bay and Upper Cook Inlet.

Boat hunters have reported catching mature king salmon near Glacier Spit.

There have also been reports of take downs and landings when trolling in the deeper waters near Bluff Point.

Here they come.

There are reports of silvers being nailed near Point Pogibshi. Downriggers are essential for trolling in deeper water. Try setting a downrigger at various depths between 15-90 feet.

Small herring trolled behind a flasher or dodger will grab their attention along with small thin blade spoons and larger glitzy spoons.

Chinooks are continuing to slide into the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon but fishing success has slackened.

A couple of small schools of kings have been loitering around surfing in and out with the tide changes.

Try salmon eggs or herring suspended a couple of feet below a bobber and hit them as the tide builds or recedes in the hole. Don’t forget the shore cruisers along the outside beach.

I spotted one 16-pounder get his anal fin handed to it when it went all white shark on a herring harboring an expertly concealed #5 hook drifting beneath a red and black steelhead float.

Small schools of king salmon are continuing to enter the Seldovia Lagoon.

The best time to take them on is during the incoming tide as fresh newbies arrive. Anglers are using spinners, herring and shrimp.

Over the past week reports from Halibut Cove Lagoon suggest that few fish have returned to the lagoon this year.

Expect an increase in effort with this fishery now that the area is open to snagging.

Other Saltwater Fishing: Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a great way to practice casting while seeking out pollock, Pacific cod, a variety of flatfish, and things usually only envisaged on the SyFy channel.

There have been reports of increased spiny dogfish bycatch. If you do retain spiny dogfish, remember that the limit is five per day, five in possession. I have yet to figure out why anyone would want a limit of these critters.

Freshwater Fishing: Dolly Varden are beginning to enter the roadside streams.

Try fishing for them near the mouth of the streams with a small, bright single-hook spinner or with a fly pattern that resembles fish, such as muddler minnows or egg patterns.

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. A brochure listing the locations of the stocked lakes is available on the Sport Fish web site and at ADF&G offices.

If you decide to go, don’t forget industrial size cans of bug repellant and/or a blood transfusion kit.

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.

The next clamming tides run from July 7-13.

There will be a Tanner crab fishery opening Oct. 1 and closing Feb. 28.

All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay remain closed for 2017.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tips, tales or something positive to say about the culinary delights of spiny dogfish fillets.

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