Homer Alaska - Outdoors

Story last updated at 6:25 PM on Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gassy fish: Who knew, but science says its true

Reeling 'em in


Every once in awhile I stumble across some fun fish fact while diligently trying to separate truth and fiction when it comes to certain tips and tales rolling into this office from mildly deranged readers. My latest discovery was The Art of the F.R.T. or Fast Repetitive Tick.

The concept comes from scientists who discovered herring create a mysterious underwater noise by farting. Yep, that's what they claim. Fish communicate by breaking wind.

Why you ask? Because the sounds of releasing air from near their anuses helps the fish form protective shoals.

One scientist stated, "We know herring have excellent hearing but little about what they actually use it for. It turns out that they make unusual farting sounds at night."

Who would have guessed FRTs could actually make critters want to get closer together rather than stampede in the opposite direction?

The answer: The gas emitted from the fish utilizes air gulped from the surface which is then stored in their swim bladders and expelled through a duct with an opening next to the anus and it's neither inflammable nor disgusting.

Word count limits my attention to the details of this study but big bucks were spent by governments to video bubbles coming from fish anal ducts along with high-frequency hydrophones to detect their sound bursts of up to 22 kilohertz (so much for silent but deadly).

"It sounds very much like someone blowing a high-pitched raspberry," one participant whispered.

Pause for thought: Do these guys find it hard to get dates?

"Thanks for the drink, stranger. What's your sign?"


"Cool, I can totally hook up with a dude chillin' the sign of the fish. What do you do for a living?"

"I count their farts."

(Sound of a spewed drink)

Anyway, what seems to trigger the noise is darkness and high fish densities, suggesting that herring use these fast repetitive ticks as a means of communication.

The big question is, when these bait fish let fly, could it help fishermen locate the shoals?

As for now, no one knows but stay tuned. There's a rumor going around that next year's Cabella's spring catalog will feature a prototype Pungent 5000 Fish FRT Finder. Price not yet established.

Now let's take a look at part of the of the state's fishing report.

Fresh Water Streams

The lower portions of the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Stariski Creek are open to sport fishing except for king salmon including jacks.

The Ninilchik River is still open to the harvest of hatchery king salmon but most now have the consistency of warm Silly Putty and must be eaten with a spoon.

Coho fishing has been slow over the last week but should improve with dumb luck during a tide change.

Try salmon roe clusters; plug cut herring, No. 3 or No. 4 high-flash Vibrax spinners along with locally designed artificial flies.

Dolly Varden fishing remains a bit boring in the lower stream sections but has been fair to good on the upper sections. Try using small bright spinners, fresh salmon eggs, or fly patterns that resemble fish such as muddler minnows or egg patterns. The daily bag and possession limit for Dolly Varden is two fish.

Don't mess with steelhead trout hooked in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek and the Ninilchik River. They must not be removed from the water and released immediately or you'll end up in court faster that someone who failed a breathalyzer.

Pink and chum salmon are available in Kachemak Bay streams but so is Giardiasis if you're not careful.

If you'd prefer a different challenge this week try lake fishing. Copious Kenai Peninsula stocked lakes provide great fishing opportunities.

A brochure listing the locations of the stocked lakes is available on the Sport Fish website and at Fish and Game offices. In the Homer area, try the Bridge Creek Reservoir for Dolly Varden.

Salt Water: Halibut

Halibut fishing remains pretty cruddy in Kachemak Bay, but gets better as you punch out to central or southern Cook Inlet.

Good results have been noted out of Anchor Point and Deep Creek.

State sampled halibut landed over the past week averaged 17.5 pounds ranging from 3.9 to 121 pounds.

3.9 pounds? That must have felt like filleting an over-weight guppy. The sportsman should have claimed it as left-over bait which would have been illegal but much less embarrassing.

Salt Water: Salmon

Trolling for silvers in Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay has started to get it on around Flat Island, Point Pogibshi and offshore.

Some small schools of cohos have been reported to produce fair fishing at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. The veracity of this news has resulted in a rush of two to three true-believer anglers during tide changes.

Late Tuesday alert: Things may be changing out there. I just received a phone call that a bigger school has entered the area but before you fire all cylinders check out the Personal Use Section.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Cod, pollock and a variety of flounders are plentiful off the end of the Homer Spit. Try using herring parts or anything else you can pull out of the fish cleaning bins located along The Spit.

The fish out there are not really fastidious and will give you and your kids and/or guests a unique fishing experience.

Plus, you can fill up the coolers with some fine eating unless you're are a horrific cook or fishing snob.

Personal Use

The Kachemak Bay Coho salmon gillnet fishery opens Aug. 16. A permit is required and available at the Homer Fish and Game office.

This should rock the small return of silvers to the Fishing Lagoon.

The China Poot personal use fishery is closed.


The next series of clamming tides occur Aug. 11-15.

I'm not going to address the rules anymore. All I can say is that you have been warned about E-Vile clamming.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@hotmail.com.