Freeze fish whole for cleaning later

Throughout the currently slumbering spring and presently aging summer, this column has touched on subjects such as fish recognition, angling techniques, what’s hot and what’s not, all accompanied by suggestions as to where to find your preferred prey.

It has also published rule reminders attempting to keep folks out of court and/or the hoosegow for flagrant regulation violations typically perpetrated by miscreants sporting memorization capabilities less than their bait augmented by an unmitigated lack of common sense.

From the feedback coming in, the effort is paying off, even though I’ve received reports that there are still several intense dipsticks wandering the beaches who are so clueless that it’s questionable if they could differentiate between a sea slug and a razor clam.

The only way these types of Neanderthals should be allowed to gather seafood is from box store display cases monitored by on-site observers to ensure that they don’t mistake a rotisserie chicken for a Yelloweye Rockfish.

What can I say? Some individuals are so averse to learning something new that their version of a text message is a Crayoned scrawl posted on an outhouse wall.

‘Nuff said.

Have you ever had one of those quintessential days of angling where you’ve nailed a couple of 50-plus pound halibut, fought for over an hour with a colossal skate, limited out on silvers, netted a spectacular feeder king and finished the hunt by boating a 60-pound Lingcod cage fighter that drained your last ounce of strength just to pull it over the rail?

Neither have I, but there have been times that I have felt physically hammered after an extensive period of stalking fins and stuffing coolers during a dipnetting safari.

After a long day, it’s tough to look forward to bending over a cleaning table elbow deep in fish gorp while rats with feathers wait for an opening to swoop in and purloin part of the catch. So, once in a while, I turn to an old trick taught to me by a native friend when we first moved down here.

I wrap each un-gutted salmon in a kitchen sized plastic trash bag and freeze it.

I’ve stored them like that for over a year without freezer burn and they’re actually fun to process once you are ready to do so.

Initially, I tried it with one fish.

Around six months later, I set it out at room temperature and ambled by once in a while to give it a slap.

When the side of the carcass became somewhat pliant it was primo processing time.

I slit the semi solid fish open, reached in and popped out the frozen gutcicle then scooped out the spine’s iced-up blood vein with a spoon. The fish was then ready to fillet when I felt it was the easiest to cut. No messy blood, guts, slime, bugs in your face or thieving birds that belong on skeet shooting range.

Give it a try sometime. You don’t have to wait six months, just long enough to let the fish freeze solid enough to be a viable weapon.

Now let’s take a look at the fishing report for the week of August 16 to August 21.

Regulation Reminders

The Anchor and Ninilchik Rivers and Deep and Stariski Creeks are open for Dolly Varden and steelhead/rainbow trout upstream of the ADF&G regulatory markers, but remain closed for salmon upstream of these markers.

The lower portions of these streams are open to sport fishing except for kings and the use of bait and treble hooks are legal through August 31.

The Kachemak Bay Coho Salmon Gillnet Fishery opens today, August 17. Open periods are Monday 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Wednesday and 6:00 a.m. Thursday to 6:00 a.m. Saturday. The fishery closes when 1,000-2,000 coho salmon are harvested. Permits are available at the Homer ADF&G office until the fishery closes.

Saltwater Fishing Report

Halibut

Halibut fishing in Cook Inlet has been passable to beyond descent.

Halibut sampled at the Homer harbor now average ~14 lbs. up from ~11 lbs. earlier in the season. The ~ thingy means “about”. I forgot what the *&^% it meant and had to look it up.

Anglers chasing halibut are kicking it using succulent large herring on circle hooks.

If you have any, it’s not a bad idea to hang a side of octopus or squid on the same hook so when the thieving flats steal the herring there is something left for them to try and pilfer. Salmon heads and bright white jigs with red eyes also work well.

If the currents are cookin’, try fishing around and during slack tide. This will give you a shot at keeping your bait on the bottom and not heading south to Kodiak.

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

Vessel line danglers are still reporting catching spiny dogfish while pursuing halibut. Other than the highly illegal use of depth charges, the best solution to the annoyance is to beat props out of there.

Salmon

Trolling smackdowns for Chinooks has been poor to fair in Kachemak Bay. Some of the blackmouths landed last week were around Bluff Point, and Point Pogibshi to Flat Island. Most of the feeder kings have been small.

Good catches of coho and pinks continue from Point Pogibshi to Gore Point. Both trolling and mooching small herring have been the most effective way to nail these fish.

There are some nice sized schools of coho touring the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and along the east shore of the Homer Spit. Fishing has been fair at the Lagoon and good along the east shore at high tide. Hit them with bait or spinners just under the surface to prompt them to dance for you.

Hopefully, there will still be some acceptable action after the Kachemak Bay Coho Salmon Gillnet Fishery opening.

The Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon Area is closed to snagging from the Homer City Dock near the entrance of the Homer Boat Harbor (including the Homer Boat Harbor) to the ADF&G markers about 200 yards northwest of the lagoon entrance to a distance of 300 feet from shore.

There are still some rookie pinks arriving in the Tutka Bay Lagoon but this run should be starting to wind down. These fish are mostly caught by anglers snagging with weighted treble hooks and nothing else to do.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Fishing for lingcod has remained on the slow side since the season opened on July 1. Those anglers returning with the beasts have had the most success near Chugach or Elizabeth Islands.

The best locations for targeting black, dark and dusky rockfish in Kachemak Bay are along Bluff Point and near Point Pogibshi, with the best fishing being outside of Cook Inlet around the Chugach Islands.

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

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a cool way to pass the time even as an observer. It’s possible to watch fishing fanatics haul in walleye pollock, Pacific cod, all kinds of flatfish along with a random salmon while learning how to swear in a variety of languages when eagles or wandering dogs purloin unsupervised catches.

Fresh waters Fishing Report

Streams

Expect good Dolly Varden fishing this week in the upper portions of the lower Kenai Peninsula roadside streams.

Dollies have a thing for small bright spinners, fresh salmon eggs or fly patterns such as muddler minnows or egg patterns.

Pinks and chum salmon are in full cruise mode in the streams on the south side of Kachemak Bay and anglers in pursuit of them have been loading up.

Silvers have been slow to arrive in area streams but the numbers should kick up over the next week. Some silvers have been reported to have entered the lower Anchor River.

Try fishing early in the morning or at the mouth of the stream during the incoming tide.

Salmon roe clusters have been the most effective so far with assorted fly patterns grabbing some of the attention.

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 will roll in from August 19 through the 25th.

Important:

Occasionally there are PSP advisories issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Contact them at (907) 269-7501, or check out their PSP webpage 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.

Boat captains should use caution before traveling across the inlet because of strong currents and always check the weather forecast to avoid motoring out onto procellous seas.

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

A prodigious number of lip-smacking butter clams can be found on the islands in China Poot Bay. They tend to lurk around up to two feet deep.

Littlenecks can be found in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. They hang in the shallower substrate, up to eight inches deep.

There will be a Tanner crab fishery season 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 tips, tales or are unsure of the difference between a sea slug and razor clam.

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