The secret to slammin’ salmon is all in the sauce

I received an email this week from a gentleman with whom I had shared a remarkable evening recounting fishing tales and prowess lies a few years back.

He was wondering if I remembered him and his buddies. I sure did.

I first met Jacob T. and the boys as they were cleaning a treasure trove of silvers. During the ensuing palaver, we discovered that we all had been raised angling the same waters of Puget Sound and streams of the High Cascades and a bond was born.

I asked T. where they had nailed the beauties.

Jacob replied that they had been nosing around for halibut “way the hell out there” when they spotted several hefty flocks of feeding seabirds. They glassed the chaos, noting multiple jumpers and took off toward the disturbance. It was worth the effort. They hit the mother lode.

Our extended conversation resulted in an invite to their evening campfire for what they deemed as “a deep discussion involving angling and home brewing techniques.”

Who would want to miss that?

When I arrived lugging a generous tuition of local Pale Ale growlers I was immediately enrolled into an enlightening fishing seminar san the suds forum.

As the evening progressed, Jeffery D., the elder of the elders, while solemnly pondering the empty bottom of one of the growlers decided to give a lecture on salmon.

It went something like this:

“We all know that salmon have three sensing mechanisms to find prey. They are sight, smell and sound.

“First, let’s deal with sight. The action of your bait or lure is very important. You need to have a good rolling and erratic action that mimics a struggling baitfish. But salmon can’t see more than a few feet and it gets worse as you go deeper. Kinda like drinking one of these jugs.”

Dan B., the lesser elder burped, “Second, ya gotta remember to use the salmon’s excellent sense of smell. A nice plug-cut adds more ‘trail,’ especially with the application of scent enhancers. ‘Course, that may be not enough.

“The third sensing mechanism is the one that brings it all together but, for some reason, I haven’t got a clue what it is, at the moment.”

Jacob T., the sober elder, let out a long sigh and rumbled, “What brew boy is trying say is that we threw the right stuff at them today.”

“When we hit the bird feeding frenzy, it was a rodeo of flying Coho, screeching birds and baitfish popping out of the water like horn toads high steppin’ through Death Valley at high noon.

“We wanted to target the lower lurking hawgs, so we unleashed our super-secret set up for a deeper troll using plug-cut herring trailing Pro-Troll Hot e-Chip Flashers. You saw the results.”

Note: They gave me permission to share their secret so don’t go all foam-mouth on my keister.

Do the e-chip flashers work? Yep. My line-lobbing buds, Turk and Willie, use them to this day and have found that they also rock the Chinook.

Jacob stated that he and the guys are coming back next summer and have another hot tip.

That’s cool, I’ll have a plethora of iced down growlers to trade for it.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of Aug. 30 to Sept. 5.

Regulation Reminders

New: On the Anchor and Ninilchik Rivers, Deep and Stariski Creeks, only one unbaited, single hook, artificial lure maybe be used September 1- October 31 for all stream sections.

New too: In Cook Inlet salt waters, effective Sept. 1-March 31, the bag and possession limit is 2 king salmon of any size and there is no recording requirement.

Saltwater Fishing Report

Halibut

Halibut fishing will go on throughout the fall and into the winter but few anglers will be chasing them as the larger halibut have begun their motoring migration to deeper offshore areas and winter storms can make for teeth rattling rough seas.

Anglers still stalking halibut are getting the most hits with pudgy herring on circle hooks although octopus, squid, salmon heads, and jigs will kick in their piggishness.

Anglers are still reporting tangling with spiny dogfish while targeting halibut. Unless you have a thing for pan fried doggies, high spin your props out of there and drop anchor where the invasion of insufferable little beasts hasn’t turned up like a boil on a butt.

Salmon

Feeder king fishing in Kachemak Bay has been just poor to fair over the past week.

There have been some reports of king landings at Point Pogibshi during coho hunts.

Silver fishing has been fair to good at Point Pogibshi over the last week. Anglers have also reported whacking pinks in the area. Well, isn’t that special?

You can take a shot at avoiding those brain stems with fins by trolling in deeper waters over 50 feet during your pursuit of kings or silvers.

If you are exploring for black, dark and dusky rockfish in Kachemak Bay, try along Bluff Point and near Point Pogibshi. The best fishing for the rocks remains outside of Cook Inlet around the Chugach Islands if you don’t mind nosebleed high wave crests when the weather goes sideways.

Although there are still some coho wandering along the Homer Spit, the run at Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is likely flatlined for the season. Of course, there may be a few dawdlers that the seals haven’t turned into Shushi, if you’re are willing to try.

Stay legal though, because 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.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Fishing for one of my favorite comestibles, lingcod, has been slow since the season opened on July 1. Anglers returning with the cantankerous beasts, bestowed with gourmet fillets, experienced their best luck near the Chugach or Elizabeth Islands.

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be an amusing way to pass the time.

If you don’t think so go sit in a closet and play Candy Crush until your brain melts.

Otherwise you can cast for walleye pollock, Pacific cod, a diversity of flatfish species or inadvertently snag a wolf eel that will attempt to devour the contents of your cooler.

Fresh waters Fishing Report

Streams

Fishing conditions this week are a bit high on the Suckometer due to the streams being elevated and muddy from recent rains.

The coho runs are likely winding down but there are still some small schools moving through. The Anchor River has experienced some sizzling mornings when the stream wasn’t running light chocolate.

Remember, that on September 1, these streams will be restricted to single-hook and no bait.

Try small spinners, spoons, assorted flies and my favorite, the silver, three red-dots, Z-ray.

Steelhead should be starting to enter the roadside streams and some anglers have already been hitting them while targeting silvers.

One of the most effective presentations for catching steelhead is a dead drift of beads or egg patterns along with swinging leeches.

Familiarize yourself with the differences between coho salmon and steelhead. Steelhead/rainbow trout have black spots all over both lobes of the tail; while silvers have black spots only on the upper lobe of the tail.

Steelhead/rainbow trout may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

When the stream conditions are clear, dolly fishing in the upper streams sections should simmer.

Hit them with beads, egg patterns, small bright spinners, or fly patterns muddler minnows. They really aren’t that finicky.

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 Dec. 31, 2017.

The next series of clamming tides are Sept. 4-11.

A PSP advisory was issued two weeks ago for Kasitsna Bay in Kachemak Bay. As always, consuming sport harvested shellfish is at your own risk. Contact the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation at (907) 269-7501 or 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 considerable caution before traveling across the inlet because of the nasty currents and capricious fall weather.

Littleneck (steamer) and butter clams will be hunkered down beneath gravel beaches on the south side of Kachemak Bay from Seldovia to Chugachik Island.

Droves of butter clams are located on the islands in China Poot Bay. They like chilling beneath the surface up to two feet deep.

Littleneck clams spread themselves around in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. Typically, the little devils are lurking 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 he isn’t already busy taking a crack at prying the next hot tip out of Jacob T.

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