Homer Alaska - Outdoors

Story last updated at 3:39 PM on Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Patience pays on fishing grounds; greed does not



Photo provided

Ben Van Vacter of Granite, Okla., shows off the 65-pound king he caught in the Kenai River last week. Van Vacter and members of his family stayed in Homer and spent several days fishing for halibut and lingcod.

What makes a really good fisherman even better? Is it quality gear, years of experience and a bucket full of dumb luck? Yes to all three.

But what really makes an angler an angler's angler is unadulterated patience.

It's the type of piscator who considers getting skunked as part of a learning curve and keeps trying until something finally works that doesn't involve an arrest and a "Stupidest $#*^ of the Week" headline in the local newspaper's police report.

Good example: Ben Van Vacter of Granite, Okla., has been dreaming of slamming a Kenai king ever since he was big enough to handle a string on a stick and practice casting into a backyard bucket.

The 59-year-old first gave the Kenai a try around a decade ago. He came up emptier than a keg at a frat party and endured the same setback every year thereafter.

This year he and his family were enjoying great fishing for halibut and lingcod out of Homer but the Kenai still called. So he chartered a river guide and took another shot at his goal.

On Thursday, July 14, he was on the river with his son Kasey and guide Don Johnson. Things were slow and the day's fishing was edging to a close when Ben's Spin-N-Glo suddenly took a vicious hit and the fight was on.

Thirty minutes later and a quarter of a mile down-river drift Van Vacter's perseverance and patience paid a dividend of 65 pounds of silvery king.

Ben's having the chinook mounted, of course, and the trophy will probably cause quite a stir back in Oklahoma, especially if he displays it on the front of his pulpit. Did I mention that he is a pastor?

Somehow a sermon on "Patience is a virtue" seems appropriate. He certainly has a great visual aid to prove it.

Bad example: Last week I specifically warned clammers about not getting greedy or careless during their hunts.

Most of you listened, but then there were those who made the mollusks they were stalking look like astrophysicists when it came to intellect.

One guy had 39 clams over his limit of 60 razors. Another edged him out with 50 more than the maximum.

Then there were four foul balls that loaded up with an over-limit mess of razors and then proceeded to pick though them until they each had their 60 while discarding the ones they didn't want along the beach. That intentional waste cost them a court date; let's hope the judge makes them walk back to Anchorage.

Finally, there's the guy who was caught in possession of 100 undersized butter and littleneck clams. How much effort does it take to make a simple measuring device? But then again, you have to be smarter than the prey you're after.

Time for a look at some of the state's fishing report.

The marine waters of Kachemak Bay are now open to snagging, except in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon where the only action is the current at tide change.

The marine waters of Tutka Bay Lagoon within 100 yards of the Tutka Bay Lagoon hatchery net pens are closed to sport fishing.


The lower portions of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and Stariski Creek are open to sport fishing.

In the Anchor River and Deep and Stariski creeks, anglers are reminded that king salmon are off limits. If you hook one, do not remove it from the water and release it immediately or you'll be added to an already crowded courtroom.

The Ninilchik River is still open to the harvest of hatchery king salmon but most of them have smoked on upstream.

On the Anchor River, anglers may only use one un-baited, single-hook artificial lure. These restrictions are in effect until 11:59 p.m., Sunday, July 31, 2011.

Anglers may use bait and treble hooks on Deep Creek, Stariski Creek and the Ninilchik River.

Pink salmon fishing in these streams has been fair and, yes, they still taste the same.

Steelhead trout hooked in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek and the Ninilchik River are not to be removed from the water and must be released immediately. It pays to know your fish because you pay if you don't.

Salt water: Halibut

Halibut fishing has been a major drag in Kachemak Bay, but fair to good if you ease on out to central or southern Cook Inlet from Homer. Also try out of Anchor Point or Deep Creek.

Reports of "mushy" halibut keep popping up. And we keep telling you to move if you run into the mutants unless you want to brew them into some sort of disgusting soup.

Salt water: Salmon

Pink and sockeye salmon have started motoring into Kachemak Bay. Trollers have reported catching pinks in the Point Pogibshi area.

The limit for salmon per day, other than king salmon, is six per day and six in possession of which only three can be silver salmon. If you can't tell the difference find something else to do.

Anglers targeting sockeye salmon within Tutka Bay Lagoon may also run into pink salmon that are returning to spawn in Tutka Lagoon Creek.

Don't get ticked at the pinks. Somebody else made their reservations to be there. So if you don't want them, practice responsible catch-and-release methods. They put up a good fight and don't deserve to be dissed.

Trolling success for king salmon pretty much sucks in most locations, but a few have been caught in the Point Pogibshi area with better luck north of Whiskey Gulch.

Silver salmon have started entering Cook Inlet and fishing for them should kick start in the next few weeks.

Cohos should be arriving soon at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and there's certainly is a lot of room for them.

Other salt water fishing

Lingcod fishing has so-so. The minimum size is 35 inches and a bag limit of two per day and two in possession. Do not use gaff on any fish intended for release.

Personal Use

The China Poot personal use dipnet fishery is open through August 7 and has been fair early in the morning.


The Cook Inlet and North Gulf Coast sport and personal use tanner crab fisheries opened July 15. A free permit is required and available at Fish and Game offices.

For tanner crabs, try west of the Homer spit in depths of 250-400 feet of water.

Shrimp, king crab and Dungeness crab fisheries in Cook Inlet are currently closed.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have some tips, true tales or just normal fishing lies.