Halibut, salmon fishing fair to good

  • A good catch Fishermen who went out on the Julia Lynn with North Country Charters pose with cod, halibut and king salmon caught on the trip on May 22. From left to right are Kevin Warner of Birmingham, Ala., Morten Kaiser, and Mathias Linck. Kaiser and Linck are from Jutland, Denmark, and visited Homer as part of a 10-week tour of Alaska. Warner is working in Homer for the summer as a mechanic with Mariner Helicopters. -Photo by Michael Armstrong, Homer News

W

ow, what an incredibly gorgeous Memorial Day weekend even though the wind and overcast chilled things down on Monday.

For those of you who can barely recall it, fishing for the major part of three days was downright respectable for competent piscatorians and rather dismal for those doing shooters while flinging beat up bass lures so nasty looking they gave bottom feeding sculpin coronaries.

I’ve seen scent bag contents with more visceral appeal than some of the anchor weight, frog mimic, plugs heaved into the Fishing Hole by 12-pack lubed cretins whose  only battle during their visit was with an amazing array of backlashes.

Luckily, the big majority of the lure flingers were cool and took advantage of the hot bite when the tides were just right and the incredibly annoying seals were snacking on someone else’s hooked prize or gleefully spooking the fish.

One grumpy local observed that whenever two of the beasts showed up he figured it resulted in a total of about 10 minutes of primetime angling per tide change.

Simply put, there were some decent kings taken out there for those who took their angling seriously and things should get even better with the higher tides that are en route.      

The Homer Chamber of Commerce couldn’t have stolen better weather from a southern California beach. Now if they would just get things rolling on a covered area for the fish cleaning tables at the lagoon, things would become even more dazzling.

Things seemed to look promising for the suggested project late last year but something must have fallen through the cracks because there hasn’t been an answer to our latest email inquiry. We will keep you updated if other options pop up. 

A majority of the charter fleet smoked back to the harbor each day with limits for their arm-weary clients while the Anchor River produced some awesome fishing at times.

The only drawback to the super holiday seemed to be reports of clueless beachcombers scoring Phase Five sunburns because they went wandering off with exposed body parts whiter than a halibut’s belly and are now paying the price with skin peels the size of buffet placemats.

It’s almost time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week.    

But first, here’s some regulation reminders that will hopefully keep your keister out of trouble.

It’s a REALLY good idea to consult the sport fishing regulation booklet before wetting a line.

Make sure to consult pages 18-20 before heading out to hunt for kings in Cook Inlet salt waters areas. 

As for freshwater streams, consult pages 54-56 for the Anchor River; page 56 for Deep Creek and page 59 for the Ninilchik River. 

A king 20 inches or longer that is removed from salt or fresh water must be retained and becomes part of the bag limit of the person who hooked the fish. 

Lingcod may not be harvested until July 1. All lingcod caught accidentally must be carefully released and may not be punctured with a gaff even if they try and rip your arm off.  

Salt Water: Halibut 

Early-season halibut fishing is fair though most fish are small.  

Some semi heavy weights are being turned into fillets in the sport fishery. 

As usual the things will improve as more fish cruise in from their deep, overwintering waters and back into shallower summer feeding areas.  

Herring remains the most popular bait, but octopus, squid, salmon heads and jigs also work well because ’buts are unconscionable pigs and will snarf up most anything that looks edible on the ocean floor. 

Unguided anglers can retain two halibut a day, four in possession.  

Check with your charter captain concerning the halibut retention rules regarding a guided trip. 

Salt Water: Salmon

Early-run king salmon are sashaying along the nearshore salt waters of Anchor Point, Whiskey Gulch and Deep Creek. 

As if you already didn’t know, downriggers are essential for trolling in deeper water when chasing these critters and small herring behind a flasher or dodger still rules as the most effective approach, although others will swear by spoons, hootchies and tube flies — mostly because they are too cheap to buy bait.

Trolling for feeder kings is reported as fair to good from Bluff Point north. 

The feeders are often mixed with maturing Cook Inlet king salmon making their way to Cook Inlet streams if you care about that sort of thing.  

By the way, anglers are also beginning to nail some chum salmon. 

Kings are continuing to ramp up at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and things are improving over in Seldovia.

Note: The first Youth Fishery at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is Saturday, June 4.

A portion of the lagoon will be open to youth 15 years of age or younger from 12:01 a.m. until midnight. Department staff will be present from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. to help young anglers fish, tie egg loops and fishing knots, plus learn the best way for releasing fish.

There have been no reported Chinook sightings at the Halibut Cove Lagoon. 

Other Saltwater Fishing 

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be an entertaining way to pass the time. 

Species lurking out there include Walleye pollock, Pacific cod, a variety of flatfish, along with an occasional king who’s lost and has the homing instinct of a rock. 

Fresh Water

The Anchor and Ninilchik Rivers and Deep Creek will open from the mouth upstream approximately 2 miles to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game regulatory marks to fishing Saturday, June 4, through Monday, June 6.  

In addition, the Anchor River will open to fishing on Wednesday, June 8.  

River conditions on the Anchor River and Ninilchik River are expected to be good. 

Expect less favorable water conditions on Deep Creek. 

Expect a good return of hatchery-reared king salmon less than 20 inches on the Ninilchik River.  

Try fishing in the early mornings and near the mouths of these streams during high tide to get a better shot at newbie arrivals. 

Spinners, flies and yarn will get the attention of the kings in these streams but eggs as well as herring have been banging them.

This time of year, steelhead trout will be leaving the rivers and entering saltwater to recover their strength after spending their winter in the river and spawning in the spring. 

Acquaint yourself with the differences between kings and steelhead trout before you fish and practice gentle fish handling if you catch one. 

Hooked steelhead must not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. 

Shellfish

Razor Clam Emergency Order: All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are closed to all clams through Dec. 31.

The next clamming tides run from June 3-9 which include some minus 5 foot drawdowns.

If you are planning on crossing the inlet for a mollusk safari, use caution because of the strong currents and check the weather forecast before traveling. 

All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay remain closed for 2016.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tips, tales or just want to rat out a fishing buddy.

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