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Still time to put fish in freezer (or canner or smoker or soup pot or...)

Posted: August 14, 2013 - 2:51pm

As August starts to slowly glissade (“butt scoot” for those of you who consider outdoor recreation as playing “Big Fish” on an iPad) itself down the slippery slope toward fall, there’s still time to add to your stash of smoked, canned, frozen, fermented, pickled, honey cured and super secretly preserved fish that only you and your acutely deranged cat can stomach.   

It’s true that the weather can get pretty nasty this time of year, but don’t forget, good fishermen know how, when and where to go after their prey. 

Excellent fishermen have the same qualities except they are the resilient ones still there during deluges even if it requires an underwater breathing device to stand on the shoreline or boat deck.

Although the rain wasn’t quite that bad last Sunday, one of those tough experts ambushed a small group of voracious silvers riding the afternoon tide into The Hole. 

He was drifting herring and nailed five of them ranging from 4 to 5 pounds along with one that hit 10. He also lost a few and the action was over rather quickly, but while others sat at home watching Tiger Woods play golf, Lou was having a great day.       

Hopefully when higher tides start rolling back in on the 18th they’ll bring more of those hard-hitting cohoes, but who knows? The lagoon’s runs this year have been more erratic than a conversation with Lindsay Lohan at a DUI checkpoint. 

If the aerialists show up and you want a crack at them before they take a run into the pond, remember as the sea edges up the beach line on the outside, the schools will run along the shore, cruising north and south of the entrance. Bait (a small herring 12 inches below a bobber works well) and go for a stroll. Watch for small wakes and/or jumpers then lead them like you are going to try and zap a high flying duck and let fly.

Light tackle is sufficient for these fierce feeders. Ten- to 12-pound test line is more than adequate. Of course attaching a lure of some kind to it works even better. 

If you are into spinning anything flashy will set these critters off, but small Vibrax (silver blades with red or blue bodies), orange Flash-N-Glos and Z-Rays (silver with 3 red dots) really get their attention.

Now, a look at some of the state fishing report.

The last youth-only fishing day will be Saturday from 12:01 a.m. to midnight at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. A portion of the fishing area will be set aside only for kids 15 and younger. Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff will be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help young anglers set up fishing gear and fish for silver salmon returning to the lagoon.

Halibut fishing remains respectable to pretty cool although most fish are smaller than they have been. Herring, squid and white jigs with reds eyes continue to be great lures. 

Sampled fish landed in the Homer harbor over the past week averaged 13 pounds (range of 5.9-57.3 pounds). 

Coho salmon fishing has cooled somewhat around Flat Island and Point Pogibshi, but feeder kings are still hitting well off Pogi.

Silvers, as reported earlier, have been returning in small surges to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon as the tide floods into its nucleus.  

The sockeye salmon run to Tutka Bay Lagoon has about had it but there are still stray gangs of pinks hanging in the ‘hood. This is a stocked fishery paid with enhancement taxes on commercial fisheries. If you are so bored that you want to give it a try, avoid getting in the way of the money-making boats in the lagoon and just go about providing comedy relief for the crews.

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be amusing, if you are into Pacific cod, flatfish, Walleye Pollock and things that chew their way out of you cooler unless you drive a silver stake between their eyes.

Lingcod fishing ramped up around Elizabeth and Chugach islands for anglers willing to bring onboard something yummy resembling the results of an amorous liaison between a wolf fish and a debauched moray eel. Lingcod season is open through Dec. 31. Bag and possession limit is two with a minimum legal size of 35 inches.

Rockfish fishing has been good for those taking a shot while angling for lingcod.  If you catch rockfish you don’t intend to keep, remember that rockfish caught in deep water suffer injuries from decompression. Recent research by Fish and Game indicates survival of released rockfish can be substantially improved by releasing fish at the depth of capture. For more information on the use of deep water release mechanisms, see the department’s web page at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingSportFishingInfo.rockfishconservation.

The Kachemak Bay coho gillnet fishery opens 6 a.m. Friday. Required permits are available at the Fish and Game office.

Areas upstream of the two-mile regulatory markers on the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep and Stariski creeks remain open to fishing for Dolly Varden and steelhead/rainbow trout. Salmon may not be targeted or harvested upstream of the two-mile regulatory markers.

Moving seaward, jumpers have been performing radical vertical leaps offshore of the Ninilchik-Deep Creek area.

Aficionados fishing lower sections of the Anchor River and Deep Creek report action rated from fair to good. Fishing is better in the morning when silvers with an attitude enter on the incoming tides.  

Recent rains have raised water levels in the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River which means silvers will be making a break for it up stream to avoid the shallow creek hassle of having to share personal space with self-absorbed steelhead. 

Fishing for Dolly Varden has been average to respectable on upper river sections. Dollies are suckers for small bright spinners, fresh salmon eggs, or fly patterns resembling fish such as muddler minnows. 

The next series of clam tides is Aug. 18-24. Digging for razor clams on Ninilchik beaches is great exercise, but that’s about it. Try Clam Gulch or beaches on the west side of Cook Inlet. Remembering the razor clam bag and possession limit decreased to the first 25 clams dug through Dec. 31 will help you avoid a citation for being an idiot.

The bag and possession limit for littleneck and butter clams is a combined limit of 80 clams. For legal sizes and to distinguish littlenecks from butter clams, refer to the Southcentral sport fishing regulation summary booklet. Remember, the possession limit refers to the number of unpreserved clams a person may have in their possession. Preserved is defined on page 5 of the fishing regulation summary booklet. It’s easy to read and they don’t use big words.

Cook Inlet and North Gulf Coast sport, personal use and subsistence Tanner crab fisheries is closed for the 2013-2014 season and all shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay are currently closed.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.

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