Story last updated at 2:02 p.m. Thursday, July 18, 2002

Fish, it's what's for dinner

Casting About

Sepp Jannotta
It's the same old story with the sourdoughs and old salts in these parts, especially when you hear them talk about how good Kachemak Bay's fishing used to be:

"Why, when I was a child we'd walk out into the bay at low tide and just pick up king crab as big as bicycles, and by the time we'd walked back to the beach, our boots were filled with shrimp!"

While Kachemak Bay is no longer quite that productive, there are still opportunities to bring sport-caught seafood back to your dinner table.

For starters, Alaskans can take their best shot at the personal-use tanner crab fishery, which opened Monday for the waters of Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet. Those who have the necessary gear and a shellfish permit may keep five male tanner crabs 5.5 inches or larger.

The China Poot personal-use sockeye salmon were pretty much cleaned out by the end of last week but, fear not, there are plenty of sockeye swimming into the Kenai River, where dipnet fever will run high through July 31.

The Kenai River, which was shut down for king salmon fishing because of a dismal early run, has seen the best late run of kings on record. Anglers have been reporting excellent fishing.

Closer to Homer, there are silver salmon brewing in Kachemak Bay. For the first time, the Homer Spit will see two separate returns of hatchery-run silvers.

"There have been rumors of silvers jumping at the Fishing Hole," said Fish and Game biologist Nicki Szarzi. "And within a couple of weeks they should just start pouring in."

The early run of silvers was introduced to fill the July gap after Fish and Game discontinued the late king run to the Fishing Hole. But for the moment, due to budget concerns, the department only plans to have two seasons with dual silver runs to the Spit. The second run normally gets rolling in August and continues into early September. The two runs combined should produce nearly 18,000 silver salmon for anglers to catch over a two-month period.

If you have a large family and you're looking for dinner, you're in luck, because this underrated salmon can be tossed into the cooler at a rate of six per day from the fishing hole, while elsewhere on the Kenai Peninsula the daily bag limit for silvers is two.

If casting into a freshwater stream is more your bag, the Anchor River is beginning to see good fishing for sea-run and resident Dollies. The sea-run fish can grow up to 5 pounds. In fresh water Dolly Varden are a two-a-day fish.