Reeling 'em in: Butt ugly lingcod make bad pets but great eating

It’s been a few years but last weekend I was asked again what I thought of lingcod and if they are worth the effort.

Answer. They make an excellent addition to any fish box. Just make sure that they’re deader than a piece of beer battered halibut.

There’s no doubt that the beasts rate a primo score on the baboon butt-ugly scale and feature a set of teeth that piranha would covet. Plus, they are classified as antisocial due to their propensity for cannibalism. But, if you can ignore those personality quirks and don’t make eye contact or invade their personal space, they can be fairly laidback for serial killers. Simply put, they don’t do well as pets but are delicious as entrees.

We are very proud of the fact that we have an abundance of the finest tasting fish in the world, even though a few species might give Freddy Kruger nightmares. You just have to know how to prepare them without ending up with a culinary disaster akin to parboiled oatmeal or fillets with the texture and taste of a Parcheesi board.

If you are going after lings, there are several basic things to take into consideration. First, stony stuff is their ’hood. The more rocky and vertical the pinnacles (rough reefs usually between 30 and 330 feet deep), the more likely you’ll be to find them hangin’ in or near their stoops, spoiling for a brawl if their next meal comes with a hook in it.

Second, tide and current make a big difference. Slow moving water during a tide change is cool because you can fish vertically with less hang-ups and gear loss. When your enticement hits bottom, pull it up a few feet immediately and start a jigging motion to put animation into your bait set-up. This action will also help you to keep from becoming snagged into something like a lure-jacking rock. (Jigs can be most anything flashy from the standard diamond types to glitzy and wicked-cool looking Yo-Zuri jigs.)

Finally, most lingcod get nasty when first slammed, but if you win the duel and boat one, don’t forget to bleed it out immediately to alleviate the possibility of its fillets having a more pronounced fishy taste.

Note: This is just one person’s way of doing things. Trust the pros that you’re fishing with or your buds that have already put the smackdown on these scrumptious ophiodon elongates (Latin for warthog-hideous greenling).

Now it’s time for the Homer area fishing report for the week of July 2 to July 8.

King Salmon Emergency Order

Effective June 2 through July 15, sport fishing is closed on the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep Creek drainages. 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

Anglers are now allowed to snag fish in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi except in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (Fishing Hole), which only opens by emergency order.

China Poot personal use dip net fishery opened July 1 to Alaska residents only, upstream of the ADF&G markers. Personal use caught sockeye salmon must have both tips of the tail fin removed.

Lingcod season also opened July 1. Anglers are reminded that the bag and possession limit is two fish and the minimum legal size is 35 inches with the head attached or 28 inches from tip of tail to font of the dorsal fin with the head removed.

Lingcod which are gaffed must be retained. A gaff may not be used to puncture any fish intended or required to be released.

The marine waters of Tutka Bay Lagoon within 100 yards of the hatchery net pens are closed to sport fishing for any species.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut fishing was pretty fair through the last week. Halibut sizes generally range from 10 to 250 pounds, with an average size of 14 pounds.

Reports of those annoying spiny dogfish (small sharks) messing with your stuff while you are targeting halibut have increased. Don’t get nailed by the sharp spine behind the dorsal fin and be polite by using the best catch and release practices when returning them to the water. Creative swearing under your breath is allowed in certain circumstances.

Halibut are equal opportunity strikers and can be caught while trolling, drifting with the tide or anchored.

The feisty flats have a thing for herring impaled on a circle hook, although their gluttony allows for entrees of octopus, salmon heads and jazzy looking jigs.

It’ll be a bit simpler to keep your bait on the bottom during the next few days as the tides ease up. Still, fishing near slack tide is always a plus when your boat is anchored.

King Salmon

King trolling continues to be rather mundane with blackmouth hunters scoring more hits near Bluff Point. They have also started whacking a few Dolly Varden while puttering along.

For those of you who are new to the area, try chasing kings by trolling in a variety of depths up to 100 feet near rocky points and kelp beds. Scan the saltwater for flocks of birds high diving on bait fish.

Prevalent trolling set-ups for chinooks feature downriggers along with herring, hootchies, tube flies, and colorful spoons tracking along behind a flasher or dodger. Experiment by trying various leader lengths for different gear action behind flashers if your initial set up attracts nothing but seaweed or some jerk spiny dogfish.

King fishing is winding down at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon to the level of a snooze fest. There are still chinooks swimming around waiting for their fins to fall off along with few with fight still in them. They’ll still strike spinners and herring or eggs suspended beneath a bobber during their lucid moments. Try fishing when the incoming tide begins to flood or retreat from the lagoon. There has been a little bit better action just outside The Hole.

Sockeye

Sockeye are beginning to arrive in Tutka Bay Lagoon. This is a stocked fishery paid for by enhancement taxes on commercial fisheries. Anglers are reminded to avoid commercial boats operating in the area.

Stocked sockeye salmon are also returning to China Poot for the personal use fishery. Fishing has reportedly been fair to good so get your swoop on.

Note: Some anglers are beginning to pick up the reds while trolling for kings.

Lingcod

Lingcod season got off to a slow start due to rough conditions beyond Point Pogibshi on Sunday. There were isolated reports of anglers catching lingcod over the 35-inch size limit.

Anglers have reported high numbers of juvenile lingcod while fishing for rockfish. This is encouraging news for the lingcod fishery; please remember to carefully release all undersized lingcod and to never use a gaff on a fish intended to be released.

Rockfish

Many boat hunters are successfully targeting rockfish to complement their halibut or salmon trips.

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.

They can be taken while trolling with spoons, tube flies, or herring. Jigs will also stimulate strikes.

Please utilize 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.

Shellfish

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 Dec. 31, 2018.

The next clamming tides are July 10 to 18, so that will be a discussion for next week’s edition.

Other Saltwater Fishing

If you’re limited by access to a boat or by the weather, fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a great way to watch or participate in a circus. It can be a lot of fun watching eagles pilfer an unsuspecting angler’s catch or listening to plebe piscatorians argue over what kind of mutant species they just dragged on shore.

Kidding aside, there are some edibles available out there such as walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Dolly Varden and a variety of flatfish.

Fresh Water Streams

Don’t have a moment of mental flatulence and forget that the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep Creek drainages are closed to all sport fishing through July 15.

Lake Fishing

You can always try the Kenai Peninsula stocked lakes that have been stocked with rainbow trout. Fishing conditions should be good. Try fishing with dry or wet flies, small spoons, spinners, or bait. The 2018 Southcentral Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet contains a current list of lakes and the species they’re stocked with.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tips, tales or impolite thoughts about spiny dogfish.

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