Reeling ‘Em In: Ma Nature gets gussied up

Well, Mother Nature really went styling last week, didn’t she?

The ageless lady gussied herself up in a fleecy-clouds frock sequined with sunshine crystals and shooed away dawdling fog banks loitering round the sleepy bay. It was a nice gesture and her gentle ministrations gifted us with pellucid vistas whether we were casting our lines from the beach or sea.

She needs to drop by in that mood more often. Things can get downright hairy when she’s in a wicked snit.

On another note, it was a bit hectic at our little cabin by the briny.

My wife’s sister smoked in from Ohio to attend the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference. She arrived at our abode’s threshold just in time to spot an impressively humongous mamma and her mini-moosie grazing near our front yard. Not a common sight in Dayton unless there’s a demented ungulate breakout from the local zoo.

When this column hits the stands, she’ll already be high-jettin’ home, but for now, she’s having an amazing time at the seminars. Me? I’m chasing stories at the gutting tables and boat ramps, because when the word “humor” doesn’t show up anywhere in a conference program, my input would make as much sense as a waterproof towel.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for week of June 12 to June 18.

King Salmon Emergency Order

Per Emergency Order No. 2-KS-7-11-18, effective June 2, 2018, through July 15, 2018, sport fishing is closed on the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep Creek drainages.

Per Emergency Order No. 2-KS-7-12-18, effective June 2, 2018, through July 15, 2018, king salmon fishing (including catch-and-release) in marine waters within 1-mile of shore from Bluff Point to the Ninilchik River is prohibited.

Within the 1-mile corridor, anglers should pay close attention to the closed waters surrounding the stream mouths.

Regulation Reminders

Best not to forget this one: Snagging is not allowed in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi until June 24.

Best really, really, not to forget this one. Snagging in Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is closed and only opened by emergency order only.

Take my word for it because with all of the closures and restrictions, our infamous Fishing Hole is suddenly a rock star attraction with an anemic cast of temporary finny players sneaking in and out with the tides.

The fishing isn’t anywhere near great, but they have been whacking some that are ranging from Munchkin sized wannabees at around 5 pounds to nice buff-bodied 20-plus pounders.

Naturally, the infamous tight line snaggers have shown up to fully display their total disregard for the law and incredulous ineptness in being able to catch a fish without a modicum of skill. They are just bit above the bottom dwellers who are blatantly ripping the water in hopes there isn’t a law enforcement officer around.

Tuesday was a bad day for the miscreants. I watched tickets being awarded for snagging, no king stamps, failure to log catch and baseless stupidity.

By the way, a king 20 inches or longer that is removed from the water must be retained and becomes part of the bag limit of the person who hooked the fish.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

Halibut sizes generally range from 10 to 250 pounds, with an average size of 14 pounds. Last week some nice edible porkers in the 50-70-pound range were brought in by both private and charter vessels.

This comes as no surprise. Herring on a circle hook still rules out there, but the usual standbys such as a succulent octopus part (they are tough to strip off the hook), salmon heads and jigs (especially with bright red eyes) also work just fine.

The tides will be smoking this week, so be prepared to use some significant weights to keep your line on the bottom when your boat is anchored. Something with the heft of a small office refrigerator might work.

King Salmon

Trolling triumphs for the blackmouths has continued to be hit or miss throughout Kachemak Bay and offshore in Cook Inlet. Hunters chasing kings have hit pay dirt just south of the Bluff Point latitude.

Look for your prey at a multiplicity of depths up to 100 feet near rocky points and kelp beds. Look for ravenous birds dive bombing on panicked bait fish.

Some trolling set-ups for kings include herring, flashy spoons, colorful tube flies and hootchies following varied colored flashers and dodgers. If those don’t work, try switching up flasher styles, colors, gear depths and trolling speed. Check out the direction the tide is moving when trolling. On days with larger tidal exchanges, like this week, troll with the current for a more effective presentation.

Still nothing? You have options. Move because you are fishing in the wrong place or admit your techniques suck and go home.

ADF&G is continuing to sample the genetic stock composition of the marine king salmon fishery. There are port samplers at the Homer Harbor, Deep Creek and Anchor Point tractor launches. If you fished for king salmon in the Cook Inlet area, regardless of success, they would like to talk to you and collect biological samples from your fish.

Chinooks are continuing to motor into the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit (the Fishing Hole). As noted previously, fishing has been slow to fair as the incoming tide floods the lagoon.

Try flashy spinners like the bladed Vibrax or sink a plug cut herring about 2 feet below a bobber. Substitute eggs if the herring are boring them.

Hit them during the cusp of dawn, late evening and during the tide change outs.

If you see someone snagging or not logging their catch, call fish and game law enforcement. Those smart phones are great for recording the miscreants and fun to watch with the troopers.

Chinook fishing at Seldovia Lagoon is improving as more fish enter the area. The best time to fish is during the incoming tide as new quarry arrive. Fisherpersonages are using spinners, good luck tokens, herring and shrimp.

Rockfish

Rockfish are found near rocky points and in kelp beds. The most popular places to target pelagic rockfish in Kachemak Bay are near Bluff Point and Point Pogibshi.

You can pick them trolling spoons, tube flies or herring. If they don’t work, give jigs a shot.

Use deep-water release methods to free incidentally caught rockfish. Never heard of deep-water release for rockfish? For details, review the ADF&G Rockfish Conservation and Deepwater Release webpage.

Shell Razor Clam Emergency Order

Per Emergency Order No. 2-RCL-7-01-18 and 2-RCL-07-02-18 all Eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are CLOSED to all clamming through December 31, 2018.

The next clamming tides are June 12–June 16, 2018.

Razor clams can be found on beaches along the west side of Cook Inlet and can be accessed by boat or plane. Popular razor clam beaches include the Polly Creek beach, Crescent River Bar and Chinitna Bay. Boaters are advised to use caution before traveling across the Cook Inlet because of strong tidal currents and variable weather conditions.

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

Butter clams are found on the islands in China Poot Bay. Butter clams can be found up to two feet deep.

Littleneck clams can be found in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. Try exploring new beaches for success. Typically, littleneck clams are found shallower in the substrate, up to eight inches deep.

Occasionally there are PSP advisories issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Contact the DEC at 907-269-7501 or visit the DEC PSP webpage for more information.

Other Saltwater Fishing

If you prefer to keep your feet on solid ground, the end of the Homer Spit can offer all kinds of entertainment. First of all, fishing, of course. Species available out there include walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Dolly Varden, a variety of flatfish, and maybe a disoriented salmon. Second, there are fish stealing eagles, raucous gulls with terrible bathroom manners and sundry creatures pulled in that would scare the hell out of a salmon shark.

Finally:

Remember that the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep Creek drainages are closed to all sport fishing from June 2, 2018, through July 15, 2018.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tips, tales or an explanation as to what happened to the Dumpsters adjacent to bathrooms at The Fishing Hole.

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