Homer Alaska - Outdoors

Story last updated at 3:58 PM on Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nothing like some scent to spice up your fishing


I heard from a very reliable source last week that a private boat was tapping the bay for some mungo kings of the feeder kind. It was good to hear considering beach fishing has been as productive as dropping a line into the sludge pool of a water treatment plant.

We all know there are three main things causing fish to strike: sight, sound and smell. This crew upped the ante on smell and was having a number of slamming days trolling not far from Homer.

Slathering natural scent on your bait and gear attracts fish and helps cloak pungent whiffs — like stale beer and pickled egg fumes from your hands — that turn fish off.

When I became old enough to troll the coastal waters of Washington and Canada with my dad and uncle, the only tackle I was allowed to handle were the poles. The brothers were self-professed sea wizards who claimed to have brewed the perfect gunk for salmon stalking. They weren't far from wrong. Limiting was a normal occurrence. Lesser successes were deemed my fault because I had spread contaminates by spilling part of my lunch somewhere near their sacred scent bucket.

The duo used two variations of the malodorous concoction. One was thick oil blends of herring, mackerel and krill. The sticky gel was then lathered on lures (spoons, hootchies, plugs, flies, squid, etc.) and flashers as well. The second version was akin to a super sauce in which they marinated cut and whole baits. It had about the same ingredients as the sticky stuff except it was liquefied and "buttered" with a few shots of salmon and anise oil.

Nowadays weaker substances akin to what they conjured up in their old wood shed cauldrons are available at most sporting goods stores (Smelly Jelly comes to mind) and they tend to be more agreeable to spouses.

Back then, if we went on a scent-centered salmon safari, Mom wouldn't let us inside the house until we met strict sniff criteria. First, we had to strip down in the garage, jam the offending duds into tie bags, shower in the basement using Lava soap and a scrub brush that would bring a water buffalo to its knees and then stand snuffle inspection in fresh matriarch-sanitized attire. It was worth it.

If trolling's slow, it won't hurt to spice things up.

Let's look at some of the state's weekly fishing report.

Regulation Reminders and Emergency Orders

The Cook Inlet area noncommercial (sport, personal use and subsistence) Tanner crab fishery will not open on July 15 by emergency order.

The English Bay River drainage and Cook Inlet from Point Bede to Point Pogibshi are closed to sport fishing for sockeye salmon until July 31 by emergency order.

The following restrictions apply for salt waters of Cook Inlet south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to Bluff Point within one mile of shore:

Until Sunday, July 15, catch-and-release fishing is allowed for king salmon, but king salmon may not be retained or possessed. King salmon that are caught may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

The following emergency orders have been issued for the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep and Stariski creeks: Until July 15, the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers are closed to fishing, and then restricted to single hook, no bait from July 16-31. Deep and Stariski creeks are restricted to single hook and no bait through July 31.

Through July 31, the Anchor River Alaska Department of Fish and Game upstream regulatory marker will remain downstream approximately 1,000 feet of the junction of the North and South forks.

Salt Waters: Halibut

Halibut fishing is semi adequate to pretty respectable but most fish remain the size of squash rackets. Sampled halibut harvested out of the Homer port during the past week dieted down 32 ounces to an average of just over 14 pounds. The bigger newspapers have suddenly noticed there's a "mushy" halibut story. Big whoop; it's nice to see them finally catching up so we'll just move along as you should if you get into a batch of the ailing butts creeping around the bottom.

Salt Waters: Salmon

Snagging is allowed in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi through Dec. 31, except in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon, where the only thing you might latch onto would be a low flying bird.

Trolling for feeder king salmon has been poor to fair off the south side of Kachemak Bay from Bear Cove to Point Pogibshi except for guys with the super-scent setups.

More pink and chum salmon are popping downrigger lines in the outer bay.

King salmon fishing at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit, Halibut Cove Lagoon and Seldovia Harbor is just about done. (This announcement came as a shock to many of us who were still waiting for it to begin.)

Other Saltwater Fishing

Lingcod season opened July 1.

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit is like casting your lure into a mixed bag aquarium. You never know what you have on until it surfaces. It could be a Dolly Varden, some species of cod, a flat fish or something that can breathe on land and will attempt to devour your toy poodle.

Personal Use

The China Poot personal use dip fishery is open to Alaska residents through Aug. 7. No permit is required. The bag and possession limits are six sockeye per person per day. Only sockeye salmon may be retained.

Fresh Waters: Salmon

Expect slow fishing for pink salmon and Dolly Varden in Deep and Stariski creeks. Most fish arrive in mid-July unless they run into the aliens that abducted our chinooks.


Clamming tides continue through July 8. Littleneck (steamer) and butter clams can be found skulking in gravel beaches on the south side of Kachemak Bay from Seldovia to Chugachik Island. Butter clams are chilling on island beaches in China Poot Bay. They can be uncovered up to 2 feet deep.

Littleneck clams can be snatched up from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove and are loitering up to 8 inches deep.

Razor clams can be found on sandy beaches from Kasilof to Homer and are exposed on any minus tides. Tides of -2.0 feet or lower are cool, so a -4.8 should be rockin'.

For larger razor clams, try beaches south of Deep Creek.

Don't blow it and forget that sport, personal use, and subsistence bag and possession limits for littleneck and butter clams have been reduced from 1,000 littleneck clams and 700 butter clams to a combined bag and possession limit of 80 clams.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have tips, tales or almost true stuff you'd like to divulge.