Homer Alaska - Outdoors

Story last updated at 6:45 PM on Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weather looks good, but fishing lukewarm




It's time once again to fire up the lawn tractor, hook onto a tow chain and attempt to separate the fishing gear in your old tackle box. I usually spray a couple of cans of WD-40 on the contents 24 hours prior to the tug-of-war in hopes of loosening things up a bit.

It saves the embarrassment of having the entire corrosion-welded contents suddenly fly out of the box looking like one of those movie monster transformers. I should know. It happened to me two years ago and it's now a permanent and very expensive lawn ornament my wife calls "Vibraxatron" through exceptionally clenched teeth.

Moving right along ...

This should be an interesting and busy Memorial Day weekend. The weather forecast looks fine so far, thus encouraging a tsunami of tourists and angling-deprived fanatics to head our way in search of sightseeing and any rumors that a chinook may be within 500 miles of the Fishing Hole. Hopefully some of the nearby streams and rivers will clear up enough to stop resembling high volume discharges from an espresso machine.

I've been checking the cleaning tables for a couple of weeks and noted a lot of the halibut were so small that they could be easily mugged by a highly annoyed bait fish or air dried and used as Christmas tree ornaments.

To be fair, there have been some heftier exceptions but things have been lukewarm so far. One captain known for his sarcasm summed things up nicely when I asked him how it went that day. He answered, "Nick, it's lucky that we have a two-fish limit. If we didn't my clients wouldn't have landed enough meat to make a decent bowl of #*%*$@g halibut dip."

Ouch.

Now let's take a look at some of the state's weekly fishing report:

Reminders to the clueless: The Anchor River is closed to fishing on Wednesdays during the king salmon season. In addition, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game upstream regulatory marker has been relocated downstream approximately 1,000 feet of the junction of the North and South forks through July 31.

Regulations in the Early-Run King Salmon Special Harvest Area are in effect through June 30. After taking a king salmon 20 inches or longer, you may not continue to fish for any species of fish that same day within this special harvest area. Marine markers are posted on the beach signifying the closed area north and south of the river mouths.

Lay off the Lingcod until July 1.

Salt water: Halibut

Early-season halibut fishing has been sporadic and most fish are small (I told you so). Success will improve as more fish move from deep waters back into shallow, summer feeding areas.

The department already has received reports of "mushy" halibut this season. This is not cool because the flesh of these fish is very soft or flabby, sometimes with pockets of jelly-like tissue which, if served on a toasted bagel, is disgusting. These critters are reportedly mushy after being cooked and are not a big hit at all-you-can-eat community barbecues. If you start catching these things be smarter than your bait and move to a different locale.

Salt water: Salmon

Trolling success for feeder king salmon has been fair to good off the south side of Kachemak Bay, Bluff Point, Point Pogibshi and north to Ninilchik.

Early-run king salmon are showing up in the near-shore salt waters of Anchor Point, Whiskey Gulch and Deep Creek. Anglers usually concentrate their fishing efforts close to shore in the shallow waters between Anchor Point and Deep Creek. The smarter ones also avoid the rocks and running aground when the tide goes out.

King salmon are expected to start returning to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit sometime between now and the beginning of the next millennium. Fishing success is expected to be so slow that starving seals probably won't pay attention to the run, but give it a shot just to improve your casting skills and avoid home chores.

Fresh water: 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 26, through midnight, Monday 28.

Bait such as salmon egg clusters or herring should be more effective during high water conditions because the fish have a great sense of smell and can't see a damn thing in some of those streams.

Water conditions are most favorable to anglers on the Ninilchik River. Deep Creek and the Anchor River are higher and more turbid.

Try fishing the mouths of these streams on incoming tides for rookie king salmon nosing upstream.

The Anchor River sonar daily and cumulative counts are available on the Sport Fish web site, www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingSport.main, or by calling the Homer ADF&G office, 235-8191. As of May 21 only 162 chinooks had passed the sonar since May 14. On May 21, just 18 rumbled upstream.

Steelhead will be leaving the rivers and entering saltwater after over-wintering in the river and spawning in the spring. The steelhead runs are not large and the rainbow/steelhead fishery is catch-and–release only. Please familiarize yourself with the differences between king salmon and steelhead trout before you fish and practice good fish handling techniques if you catch one. Remember that steelhead trout must not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Shellfish

The next clamming tide series will occur June 1-9 so we'll mumble about mollusks next week.

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

Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby

Sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby got underway May 15 and continues through Sept. 15. Tickets are $10 a day or $75 for 10 days. New rules mean lots of opportunities to win. For more information, visit www.homerhalibutderby.com, or call the chamber and visitor center at 235-7740.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any insights, observations or smart tips on fishing in this great area.

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