Homer Alaska - Outdoors

Story last updated at 5:49 PM on Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One angler's tools are another's superstitious quirks


Writing this column has some unique challenges because many of the sources I deal with are suspect simply because they are hard-core fishermen.

This assemblage of sportsmen are masters at turning simple fishing trips into high seas sagas and/or a foot-long jack salmon into a "chinook so huge we had to shoot it twice with a .44 just to settle it down enough to slam home a couple of harpoons."

Rest assured, I can attest to the accuracy of my allegation because I come from a long line of fish story prevaricators and the chinook yarn was one of my grandpa's classics. Thus I was confident that, after decades of wading through verbal archives of pescador b.s., I was finally capable of panning nuggets of usable tips from the sludge of suggested techniques aimed at leaving me standing midstream looking like a deranged Ringling Brothers clown in hip waders.

Nope. Not quite yet.

I was hanging around the boat launch area last week when two seasoned gentlemen began loading a small skiff onto a trailer. As they adjusted their boat's gear they tugged a wet cloth off of two healthy looking halibut.

Since the weather was somewhat dicey I figured they must have been hooked up and sheltered somewhere out in Mud Bay because if they had tried to go anywhere else they would have needed a periscope to get home.

It turned out they had played it safe and had been settled in near the barge buoys until a rising chop forced them into cutting things short and rolling into port with their 25-pound-plus and 30-pound-plus flats.

It wasn't an unusual story until they mentioned that they would have stayed in their warm RV, if they hadn't had a five-star prediction for wetting their lines. I figured they were talking about a tide book until they produced a solunar fishing forecast and predictions chart.

It was a neat looking document noting the best days and times to fish. It also included outlooks suggesting when they would have better luck sequestered in a camper playing "Fishing Fever" online with one hand and holding an adult libation in the other.

To be truthful I couldn't remember hearing much about solunar fishing graphs other than from guys who wouldn't get out of bed without checking astrology charts for the odds of being flattened by a an asteroid on their way to work. Both sounded a bit like trying to predict the future after snorting pixie dust from Peter Pan's stash.

Personally I practice manly angling basics such as fishing the tides wearing a mangled Raiders ball cap tilted 20 degrees to the left while sporting an ancient multi-pocket Carhartt that can stand by itself in the closet along with rubber boots with more patches than a nicotine addict. Mine are not superstitious quirks. They are vital tools.

Still I was intrigued enough to check out the solar-lunar hypothesis and was surprised about how well they mimicked some of the fishing strategies I've been taught and developed over the years.

Take a look and let me know what you think. Try www.solunarforecast.com/solunarcalendar.aspx for a start.

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

Regulation Reminders and Emergency Orders

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. Do not remove a coho 16 inches or longer from the water before releasing it.

The waters upstream of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game markers on the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and Stariski Creek are closed to all salmon fishing, including catch and release, but open to Dolly Varden and rainbow/steelhead trout.

Rainbow/steelhead trout may not be removed from the water or kept, and must be released immediately.

Salt Waters: Halibut

Halibut fishing is passable to braggable, although a majority of the fish remain on the small side. Sampled halibut harvested out of the Homer port during the past week porked up to an average of nearly 16.5 pounds.

Salt Waters: Salmon

Trolling for feeder kings has been a crap shoot throughout Kachemak Bay, but fish have been snapped up around Bluff Point, Bear Cove and Point Pogibshi.

Trolling for silver salmon has been a slow grind off Bluff Point, Point Pogibshi and the south side of Kachemak Bay.

Chum salmon are still serving themselves up in the Seldovia area.

Salmon fishing has actually improved somewhat at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon with the arrival of the higher tides.

Silvers get nasty aggressive around dawn and feisty when the tide's running through the breach. If your timing is right, good roe and/or plug cut herring will get you a shot at putting some on the grill.

For the heavy metal advocates, try a smaller blue Vibrax (these fish are more like piglets than hogs).

Note: For those with an astute eye, check the flats on the northeast side of the Spit when the tide is in. There have been some sporadic jumpers and they are not lagoon fish. Most are running from 5 to 9 pounds when a few show up. Nothing smokin' just a "heads-up."

Other Saltwater Fishing

Rockfish harvest in Lower Cook Inlet has remained semi-hot for those who enjoy an excellent beer batter dinner.

Lingcod must be at least 35 inches long with head attached or 28 inches from tip of tail to front of dorsal fin.

Lingcod season remains open and has been pretty fair for some hunters targeting them near Chugach and the Barren Islands.

Anglers who choose to fillet lingcod at sea are reminded that to comply with minimum size regulations, the fillet must be at least 28 inches long or anglers must retain the carcass. You may want to wrap the deceased beast in something opaque to stave off reoccurring nightmares by naive passengers and rookie crew members.

The end of the Homer Spit is an excellent location to catch walleye pollock, Pacific cod, a variety of flatfish, Dolly Varden and lately a few silvers for those hurling herring and a bobber.

Fresh waters

Silver fishing is improving in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and the Ninilchik River. You ought to know by now that fishing early in the morning or at the mouth of these streams during the incoming tide triples your chance for action.

As usual salmon roe clusters and plug cut herring are awesome baits, but cool stuff like a Yakima Flash Glo Spinner or locally tied fishing flies also will nail them.

Dolly Varden fishing remains beyond fine in these streams.

Pink and chum salmon are banging around in streams on the south side of Kachemak Bay such as Humpy Creek and Seldovia River.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn't printing up a batch of secret solunar fishing charts for the rest of the fall.