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Good clam tides, but limit reduced

Posted: May 22, 2013 - 4:35pm  |  Updated: May 23, 2013 - 4:41pm

The first part of this season’s premiere column will be dedicated to those of you who scour wilderness beaches hunting the infamous Alaska clam.

Memorial Day weekend should be primo for those who are addicted to rooting around in the mud and sand for a creature that’s as swift and elusive as a rock with the mental capacity to match.

Their inability to make a serious run for it makes them simple to locate without the use of spotter planes, hunting dogs or clam-baiting stations. Even the clueless with the observation skills and attention spans of bait buckets have a great shot at spotting these critters because certain species are dim-witted enough to blast off a mini geyser as a visual aid if they’re overlooked.

The upcoming minus tides are going to expose enough tidelands to accommodate everyone on the Kenai Peninsula plus half of Anchorage. The latter will probably show up styling the latest gear that they blew a year’s worth of mortgage payments on at a sports show resulting in each razor clam they bag worth about two thousand bucks a pop.

The honkin’ negative tides along with a phenom weather forecast will be accompanied by a plethora (really big bunch) of law enforcement personnel. They’ll be checking to make sure clam slammers aren’t running around in ATVs or vehicles after quaffing as many brews as their limit of mollusks. They also will be screening harvest numbers, measuring shell sizes and asking to see if you’re packing a fishing license.

Last year police blotters contained a plague of miscreants who just topped off their coolers and attempted to beat feet north. It turned out the troopers had little sympathy for those who flunked preschool math and busted them and their checking accounts.

The reason the sports staff at Unhinged Alaska has brought this enforcement issue up is because as of 12:01 a.m., Thursday, May 23, 2013, through 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, December 31, 2013, the bag and possession limit for razor clams harvested from the eastside Cook Inlet beaches extending from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit is reduced to the first 25 clams dug per day and only 25 clams may be in possession.

That’s a big change, gang, so bring along a designated mollusk counter and tape measure tender. Leave a court appearance to the other guy.

Now let’s take a look at some of this week’s Alaska Fish and Game’s Fishing Report:

These restrictions are in effect through Sunday, June 30, 2013, except where otherwise noted.

The Anchor River is closed to sport fishing on Wednesdays and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s regulatory marker is relocated approximately 1,000 feet downstream of the north and south fork junction.

When they show up the combined annual limit is two king salmon 20 inches or greater in length for fish harvested until June 30 in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and all marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point.

After harvesting a king 20 inches or greater from either the Anchor River, Deep Creek or the Ninilchik River, anglers are required to knock off fishing for any species in these streams for the rest of the day.

Anglers may only use one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure on the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River.

The Ninilchik River king salmon bag and possession is one naturally produced or hatchery produced fish during regulatory weekend openings in May and June; beginning July 1, bag and possession is limited to one hatchery produced king salmon.

The distressingly ugly lingcod may not be harvested until July 1.

Salt Waters: Halibut

Early-season halibut has been sporadic and most fish are running a bit larger than an oven mitt. Things will start to get better as more flats cruise in from deep over-wintering waters back into shallow summer buffet feeding areas.

Salt Waters: Salmon

Trolling success for feeder kings is reported as good at Bluff Point and Point Pogibshi. Some really healthy salmon have ended up on the cleaning tables accompanied by the standard lies about exactly where and how they were caught.

Early-run king salmon are typically available this time of year in the near-shore salt waters of Anchor Point, Whiskey Gulch and Deep Creek.

Anglers taking a shot close to shore along the shallow waters between Anchor Point and Deep Creek have reported fair to good results along with spotting of a ton of baitfish in the area.

Fresh Waters: Salmon

The Ninilchik and Anchor rivers and Deep Creek, as defined by the ADF&G markers will open to fishing at 12:01 a.m., Saturday, May 25, through midnight, Monday 27.

Try fishing the mouths of these streams on the incoming tide for newly arriving king salmon. Three kings sporting mud goggles were counted on May 19th.

The water conditions have been fluctuating daily with changes in weather and snow melt. Expect water levels to be high and muddy on Deep Creek and the Anchor River for this weekend. The Ninilchik River should have better water conditions.

If they could just see them, spinners, flies, jigs and yarn fished close to the bottom are effective lures to getting king salmon to bite.

The Anchor River sonar daily and cumulative counts are available on the Sport Fish web site or by calling the Homer ADF&G office.

Shellfish

The next series of clamming tides is now through May 29.

Digging for razor clams on Ninilchik beaches is wicked poor. Try Clam Gulch beaches for more razor clams and happy holiday hordes.

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

Good numbers of butter clams up to two feet deep are found on the islands in China Poot Bay.

Littleneck clams can be found in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. Typically, littleneck clams are found shallower in the substrate, up to 8 inches deep.

All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay are currently closed.

Call ADF&G in Homer at 235-8191 for general information or 235-6930 for a recording of the latest sports fishing info.

Got a good fishing yarn? Nick wants to hear it. Email him at ncvarney@gmail.com.

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