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Anchor River, lower Cook Inlet marine fisheries closed to protect king salmon

Posted: June 11, 2014 - 3:29pm  |  Updated: June 12, 2014 - 2:55pm

Fishing Alert: On Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and Stariski Creek are closed to fishing beginning Friday.

In addition, king salmon sport fishing (including catch-and-release) is closed within one statute mile of shore in the salt waters of Cook Inlet south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point. King salmon caught while fishing for other fish within the one statute mile of shore may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

These closures will remain in effect through 11:59 p.m., Monday, June 30.

In a press release announcing the closures, the state said: “Indices of abundance suggest below average run strength trends in recent years for early-run king salmon stocks in lower and upper Kenai Peninsula streams. Sport fishing restrictions to inriver fisheries have been enacted pre-season on Deep Creek and the Anchor, Ninilchik, and Kasilof rivers, and early-run king salmon on the Kenai River in an effort to achieve adequate escapement into these streams.

“The sustainable escapement goal for king salmon in the Anchor River is 3,800-10,000 fish. Anchor River king salmon runs have been well below average since 2009. The Anchor River escapement of king salmon through June 9 is 900 fish. Based on the 2009-2013 run timing average, 29 percent of the escapement was counted by June 9. At this time it is uncertain that the escapement goal for king salmon will be achieved; therefore restrictions are necessary to achieve the spawning escapement goal.”

 

 

Now for some good news:

Last week I reported that a total of 220,000 chinook smolt had been or were about to be planted in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon with expected returns to begin within one to four years. 

That’s cool. What’s critical cool is that the brood stock will be coming from the Ship Creek, Kasilof and Crooked Creek gene pools and those are some sizable fish.

Did you see the heft of some of those kings being pulled out of Ship Creek lately in the Anchorage Daily News?

I don’t know how many of you remember the times we used to haul brawny 30-pound-plus chinooks out of the pond. Well, I can testify that it’s been awhile because back then I still had dark hair and single vision glasses.

Those were some wild days with fisherpersonages hot footing around the banks, trying to keep the big honkers from snapping off while roaring “fish on” to everybody within 50 yards of an open fighting area they were burning the rubber off their XtraTufs to get to. 

Woe to anyone that sat there with their head up a significant orifice and didn’t retrieve their line from the water before becoming ensnarled in the fight. 

If the transgressor was standing close and the fish hit so fast that an entanglement couldn’t have been avoided, they were usually forgiven, especially if the fish was landed.

If it happened again, though, or some distant troglodyte just stood there until the frenzied king rolled into his line and snapped off, all bets were off. 

Heated discussions usually ensued with suggestions from the dude who lost the fish, along with his fellow bros, that the miscreant move his fishing spot to the suburbs of Seldovia lest he ended up renting S.C.B.A equipment to search for his gear. 

Don’t get me wrong. Those hardcore fish hunters were a peaceful bunch whose idea of formal wear was herring slimed jackets with a blend of roe goo for color.

Other than that, they had only one rule of proper Hole etiquette: If you hear “fish on” and you spot some crazed figure heading your way like a bear with his head stuck in a bee hive sporting a pole bent double, pull your gear and step aside or eagles and seagulls won’t be the only birds you see if you cut the man off.

Double that if it’s a woman. We’re talking serious revenge here. 

Hopefully these new stockings will help bring back our lagoon to the verge of some freezer filling fantasy fishing.

Now let’s take a look at this week’s fishing report:  

Halibut

Early-season halibut landings roll along on the upswing with heftier hawgs hitting the decks and stuffing freezers. Things should start edging into a major smack down mode as more lunkers move from deep, over-wintering waters back into shallow, summer feeding areas. 

Sampled fish landed in the Homer Harbor over the past week averaged just more than 12 pounds (range 3.1 to 122.4 pounds) round weight. Herring on circle hooks continues to be the top succulent lure on a halibut’s drool meter.

 Salmon

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

 Trolling success for feeder kings has slowed along the southern shore of Kachemak Bay and Point Pogibshi but has picked up around Flat Island.

 Small schools of king salmon are returning to Seldovia Lagoon and fishing is reported as fair. 

 Note: Lure draggers also are starting to pick up sockeye, chums and suicidal pink salmon that have just learned they are now legal bait and want to get it over with. 

 King salmon are still nosing into the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and fishing success continues to improve.

 A friend of mine who is one of the finest fish slayers prowling the lagoon has filled two proxies already.

Another buddy filled his king card and is now trying out various fly fishing techniques on the dollies and jacks because his wife doesn’t want him sitting around the house sulking until the silvers arrive.

Dollies continue to patrol outside the hole turning unsuspecting juvenile chinook into sushi snacks faster than a frenzied Benihana chef with two knives and an attitude. 

Other saltwater fishing

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can fill a cooler fast if you are yearning for a slug of Walleye Pollock or Pacific cod. There’s also a bunch of flatfish available along with Dollies and a demented jack salmon or two. 

Shellfish

 The next series of clamming tides run through June 17. We are talking some serious negatives numbers here with a -5.1 open beach blaster on June 14th followed by a -5.0, much to relief of the razors remaining on the -5.1 side.  

If you decide to swan dive into the massive exposure of mud and sand don’t forget the following:

 The Ninilchik beach from the north bank of Deep Creek to a marker located approximately 3.2 miles north of the Ninilchik River at 60º 05.66’N. latitude, is closed to the taking of all clam species.  

 The bag and possession limit for razor clams harvested from the remaining 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 razor clams dug per day and only 25 razor clams may be in possession.  

Both of these restrictions are effective through 11:59 p.m., Wednesday, December 31, 2014.

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

Other new sport fishing regulations

 Sport caught pink salmon may be used as bait in the salt water fisheries.

 Regulation changes are in effect for guided anglers fishing for halibut. The bag limit for guided anglers is two fish per day, one of any size and one less than or equal to 29 inches in length.

A more extensive description of these federal regulations can be found at: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/frules/79fr13906.pdf

You also can contact NOAA fisheries at 1-800-304-4846 or 907-586-7228 with questions about regulations pertaining to sport fishing for halibut.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tales, tips or a charter’s or personal Facebook page where you want him to check out the action. 

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