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Story last updated at 9:11 AM on Monday, January 23, 2006

Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon

The Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon, also known as the Fishing Hole, located on the Homer Spit is one of the most popular fisheries on the southern Kenai Peninsula and draws thousands of anglers annually.

The man-made fishery started as an enhancement project by beloved and now-retired Alaska Depart-ment of Fish and Game biologist Nick Dudiak. Strong numbers of king and silver salmon return each year, thanks to efforts of the state of Alaska, the city of Homer and local sport and commercial fishermen.

The lagoon provides easy-access angling from mid-May to mid-September and is one of the few places in Southcentral Alaska that has an early run of silver salmon, which starts in mid-July.

The enhancement program began as an experiment during the 1980s, a cousin of the successful Halibut Cove Lagoon and Seldovia king salmon fisheries started by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. All are “terminal fisheries,” meaning the fish have nowhere to spawn. That may be frustrating for the fish, which continually circle the hole looking for a stream that doesn’t exist, but it’s good news for anglers. When the bite is on, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, so to speak.

Salmon eggs are raised in a hatchery to smolt size, then transferred to floating pens in the lagoon. They are held captive for two reasons: the tiny fish are fed to increase their size — and therefore their survival rate when released into the ocean — and imprinted to the salt water that, several years later, will attract them home to the “hole.”

King salmon can be caught at the lagoon from mid-May till the end of June and average 15 to 20 pounds.

The silver salmon enhancement program provides two runs of fish from mid-July to mid-September. The cohos, known for their feisty behavior when caught, average about 6 pounds. As each of the runs dwindles, the Department of Fish and Game may open the Fishing Hole for snagging. The openings are announced locally and signs are posted. But when the next salmon run starts, snagging is halted so that bait fishermen can try their luck.

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