Homer Alaska - Outdoors

Story last updated at 1:15 PM on Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Arrowtooth flounder: A fish so foul it's only good for bait

During the past couple of months I have mentioned the variety of fish available to shore fisherpersonages from the end of the Spit.

Some of the species are delicious, such as Pacific cod that easily morph into slam-dunk tasty beer-batter entrees. Then there's Dolly Varden with firm pink flesh that has an excellent and delectable flavor when cooked in the coals of a barbecue or camp fire after being wrapped in foil and seasoned with whatever turns your crank.

Dollies also are righteous out of the smoker if you have a clue as to what you're doing and don't turn them into odd-looking paperweights with a dubious odor.

Sadly, I cannot come anywhere near being as obsequious toward the arrowtooth flounder although it is listed as one of the most common food fish around. Trust me, it has a titanic chance of staying that way.

Why? Because it has a taste that starving cats have been know to flee from. "Inedible'' is the politest way I've heard it described along with "a detestable flounder with the consistency of mash potatoes and fish pudding accompanied by a castor oil aftertaste and smell."

That observation alone puts it high on my power hurl potential scale.

So I did a bit of research to find out why the things are so foul that Canadians use them mostly as mink feed, resulting in the little weasels lining up to volunteer as fur coats.

It seems that the arrowtooth have a proteolytic enzyme from a myxo sporean parasite that launches when it's cooked turning its meat into yogurtville. So, if you should reel in a relatively hefty, brownish colored flatfish (4 to 16 pounds) with large jaws that extend behind the eyes and are sporting two rows of arrow-shaped teeth, you have the major ingredient for jelly flesh and peanut butter sandwiches.

If that enlightenment doesn't put you off your feed go ahead and try a pint of the stuff.

They do have a positive side. It seems they make pretty good strip baits for gluttonous halibut along with salmon innards, octopus, herring, squid and most any lure-legal bottom dweller with poor personal hygiene.

On that positive note let's take a look at some of this week's state fishing report.

Regulation Reminders

and Emergency Orders

Anglers are reminded that coho salmon 16 inches or longer once removed from fresh water must be retained and become part of the bag limit of the person who originally hooked the fish. A person may not remove a coho 16 inches or longer from the water before releasing it.

The China Poot personal use dipnet fishery closed Aug. 7.

Lingcod must be at least 35 inches long with head attached or 28 inches from tip of tail to front of dorsal fin. Anglers who choose to fillet lingcod at sea are reminded to make sure that they're dead because they get real testy when stuck and have jaws that could force everybody to abandon ship. Keep in mind the fillet must be at least 28 inches long or anglers must retain the carcass.

Believe it or not, the bag and possession limit for spiny dogfish sharks is five per day and in possession with no recording requirement. The bag and possession limit for all other sharks is one per day, in possession, and recorded immediately on the back of your fishing license.

Salt Waters: Halibut

Halibut fishing has been entertaining to extremely decent though most fish continue to run small. Sampled halibut harvested out of the Homer port during the past week dropped to an average of just more than 12 pounds.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game continues to receive reports of "mushy" halibut. The fish exhibit some of the following traits: wrinkled skin near the base of the dorsal and ventral fins and more translucent skin on the white side making muscle bands visible through the flesh. If you land a fish that fought like it had been dead for a week, feels flabby and does not look as robust and rounded as a hale and hearty halibut should, release it immediately unharmed and scoot out of there.

Salt Waters: Salmon

Trolling success for feeder kings in Kachemak Bay has improved over the last week. Anglers snapped up some respectable chinooks around Bluff Point and secret spots on the south side of Kachemak Bay.

Pink salmon are annoying feeder king hunters off Bluff Point, Point Pogibski and the south side of Kachemak Bay.

Silver salmon catches continued to be slow off of Point Pogibshi and Bluff Point.

Chum salmon are awaiting a hook in the Seldovia area.

A few silver salmon have returned to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon but have shown an inexcusable lack of enthusiasm during their homecoming resulting in dismal fishing.

Snagging is allowed Lower Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay south of Anchor Point.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Lingcod season remains open. Fishing success has been fair to good for anglers seeking the species near Chugach and Perl islands.

Personal Use

The Kachemak Bay coho salmon gillnet fishery will open Aug. 16. A permit is required and available at the Homer Alaska Department of Fish and Game office.

Fresh Waters

The lower portions of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and Stariski Creek are open to sport fishing; bait and treble hooks may be used.

Silver salmon are starting to cruise into these streams, especially the Anchor and Ninilchik where things have been picking up nicely.

Salmon roe clusters and plug cut herring work the best, but flashy Vibrax, Z-Rays (silver with red dots) and various colored flash flies also will entice strikes.

Try fishing early in the morning and/or at the mouth of these streams during the incoming tide.

Upstream areas remain open for Dolly Varden and steelhead/rainbow trout.

Expect fine fishing for Dolly Varden in these streams using beads, small spinners and streamer flies.

Pink and chum salmon are getting in each other's way in streams on the south side of Kachemak Bay such as Humpy Creek and Seldovia River.


Shrimp fisheries in Cook Inlet are currently closed. A personal use (Alaska residents only) shrimp fishery is open in the North Gulf Coast waters from Aialik Cape west to Gore Point and a free permit is required.

We'll talk about clams when the next low tides start arriving on Aug. 16.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn't holding impromptu end-of-the-spit seminars on the difference between the delightful starry flounder and its disgusting cousin, the unpalatable arrowtooth.