Know your fish, piscatorians

I’m starting off this week’s column with a suggestion.

Know your fish, especially with the plethora (whole bunch) of species available in Kachemak Bay, Cook Inlet, and their fresh water tributaries.

Over the last few days I have had the dubious pleasure of trying convince several visiting fishermen that they had not landed a silver but were now the proud conqueror of a demented pink.

Yes, there are a few anglers that can’t seem to tell the difference between the two especially if they are nailed in the salt but add an equivalent ignorance when it comes to discerning the distinction between Dolly Varden and Rainbow Trout or Chum from Sockeye then a compassionate intervention is called for before a law enforcement officer steps in to discuss bail options.

I learned a long time ago to avoid arguments and accompanying death stares associated with this topic by keeping a folded copy of an Alaska Fish and Game’s uncomplicated, one-page, handout in my jacket.

It showcases first-rate color pictures of salmon, trout and other species commonly found in Alaska waters on the front along with multicolored pics of rockfish and additional saltwater species including halibut and other edible delights on the back.

Note: A profound exception to the term “edible delight” is the Arrowtooth Flounder which features meat that, when it gets anywhere near a skillet, has a tendency to morph into an unpalatable sludge or a slurry decoction that would gag a ravenous cat.

If you already possess the multi section Southcentral Sports Fishing Regulations Summary booklet, check out pages 86 through 90 where disagreements, potential brawls and idiotic bets can be settled without damaging vulnerable body parts and/or egos.

If you don’t, the single fact sheet is an excellent, foldable, visual identification aid that fits nicely into a convenient pocket along with your fishing license.

Caution: If you decide to offer pictorial proof confirming that your classification of the species in question is correct, make sure that the person you are debating sees just you and not a set of triplets. Arguing with a 12-pack mind fueled by a suds-soaked intellect makes about as much sense as anchovies on a chocolate chip cookie or attempting to dig a hole in water. Besides, they probably couldn’t tell the difference between an ocean perch and squid anyway.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of August 9 to August 14.

Regulation Reminders

All sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek and Ninilchik River are open to sport fishing. The use of bait and treble hooks are legal gear through August 31. The upper sections remain closed to salmon fishing.

Saltwater Fishing Report

Halibut

Halibut fishing has been sound and becoming more interesting as larger fish motor in from deeper waters.

Unguided anglers can retain 2 halibut per day, 4 in possession. Guided anglers should consult federal regulations at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/sport-halibut.

Anglers are still grumpin’ about whacking spiny dogfish while chasing ‘buts. Hey, if you are riled, move to another location. No deep problem solving required, just jet.

Halibut are obsessed with large herring on circle hooks because, being dead, they don’t move fast and take much less effort to swallow. Presentations of slightly bland octopus and squid along with salmon heads will also work because halibut are gluttonous vacuums of the bottom of the sea and lack culinary panache.

With the bigger tides headed our way, try fishing around and during slack tide. It’s a good way to keep your bait the bottom without attaching a battleship anchor.

Salmon

Trolling for kings has ranged from flat poor to a touch of decent in Kachemak Bay.

Chinooks were caught last week in areas off the tip of the Homer Spit, Bluff Point, and Point Pogibshi to Flat Island.

Fin hunters have been cracking coho and pink skulls in the saltwater from Point Pogibshi to Gore Point.

A bit of refresher training:

Downriggers are essential for trolling in deeper water. Experiment with various depths between 15-90 feet.

Small herring trolled behind a flasher or dodger will get them excited and bring them in for a looksee. Small thin blade spoons and large spoons have been working as well. If you are attempting to avoid insufferable humpies, fish in deeper waters over 50 feet for a clearer shot at kings or silvers.

A nice number of coho have surfed into the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and the fishing has been fair to rockin’ when the tides are rolling.

Salmon eggs or plug cut herring suspended a couple of feet under a bobber work fine. If you are fishing the moving tide exchange make sure to use some split shot to weigh down your bait whether you are using a float or just line.

#3 Vibrax spinners are taking their share, especially the blue and red bell styles.

If the tide is out, target just ahead of the roaming schools wake. This technique can be quite effective early in the morning.

The Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon area is closed to snagging from the Homer city dock near the entrance of the Homer boat harbor (and including the Homer boat harbor) to the ADF&G markers about 200 yards northwest of the lagoon entrance to a distance to 300 ft. from shore.

Pinks are still arriving in Tutka Bay Lagoon with very few sockeye mixed in.

These fish are mostly caught by anglers snagging with weighted treble hooks. Sounds unbelievably exciting.

Large numbers of humps have been observed in Tutka Bay outside of the lagoon. Try trolling small spoons and hootchies for another big whoop.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Fishing for lingcod has been in low gear since the season opened on July 1st. The best success for rumbling with these cuddly creatures has been near Chugach or Elizabeth Islands.

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a neat way to practice your casting ineptness while attempting to lure Walleye Pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish and an occasional salmon. Several coho and species-confused pinks were landed out there last week. Who would have thunk it?

Be certain to check regulations regarding bag and possession limits and know which species it is that you’re keeping before harvesting them.

The best locations for targeting black, dark and dusky rockfish in Kachemak Bay are along Bluff Point and near Point Pogibshi.

This week there have been reports of larger than average yelloweye rockfish being harvested around the Barren Islands as well.

Anglers use a variety of gear including spoons, jigs, herring and flies to catch rockfish. They are also commonly caught when trolling with downriggers for salmon.

Fresh water:

Personal Use Fishing

Dipnetting for sockeye in China Poot remains open until August 14. There were still some newly arriving fish this past weekend but the run should be nearing the end.

Note: China Poot Personal Use Sockeye Salmon Emergency Order

The personal use bag and possession limit for sockeye in the China Poot Creek dip net fishery was increased from six fish to 25 fish per day effective Friday, August 4, 2017, at 12:01 a.m. and the season extended through 11:59 p.m. Monday, August 14, 2017. Only sockeye may be kept. All other fish must be released.

Streams

Dolly Varden fishing should remain good this week in the upper streams. Most of the dollies have moved upriver behind spawning king salmon.

Egg patterns will have the best results but flesh flies, smolt patterns and small spinners are effective gear as well.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Decent numbers of pink and chum salmon remain available in streams on the south side of Kachemak Bay and anglers fishing for them have had good success. I’m deeply delighted for them. No, really, I am. Pinky swear.

Silvers are starting to arrive in area streams but expect slow fishing over the next week. Try fishing early in the morning or at the mouth of the stream during the incoming tide. More coho will enter these streams with the bigger tides. Fish salmon roe clusters and herring for some fine action.

Shellfish

Razor Clam Emergency Order

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 December 31, 2017.

The next series of clamming tides are August 6-11.

Occasionally there are PSP advisories issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Contact them at (907) 269-7501, or check out their PSP page on the Internet at, (http://dec.alaska.gov/eh/fss/seafood/Shellfish_Home.html.)

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 check the 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.

Herds of butter clams can be found on the islands in China Poot Bay. Littleneck clams can be found in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. Try checking out new beaches for better luck.

There will be a tanner crab fishery opening October 1 and closing February 28, 2018.

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

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tip, tales or redeeming qualities of spiny dogfish to share.

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