Sport fishing scofflaws stretch limits of intelligence, common sense

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ormally I don’t get into to the area of investments but after reading the Alaska Wildlife Trooper’s section of the police report in the Homer News last week, I’d suggest that you consider buying some shares in the Bic Pen Company.

If things keep up, there’s going to be a big run on their product after a bunch of anglers were summarily busted for not recording their king catches.

What’s up with that? I’m sure those scoundrels weren’t preschool dropouts who were unable to read or comprehend the regulations much less sign a harvest card. On the plus side, maybe they can pick up some mileage points if they are allowed to smoke their hefty fines with a swipe of a VISA.

Somebody even made the news by angling in closed waters. How does that work? There you are fishing away in a very popular river all by your lonesome.

You asked yourself, “How cool is this? Can it be that I’m a bit late and everyone’s split with their limit except for that spellbound trooper closely studying my expert technique?” 

Nope. Just a classic “Aw $&^#!” moment if there ever was one.

Let’s not forget the dim bulb that pulled a steelhead from a creek for a photo ego op before releasing it or the bonehead who not only didn’t bother to pony up for a nonresident king salmon stamp but also failed to record his ill-timed conquest. 

Then there’s the less than gifted fishermen unable to grasp the simple concept of pulling the plug after nailing their limit of one fish per day from a regulated stream or whipping the water with illegal gear. (Rumor has it they were all related to the brain stem that not only landed his maximum take but then kept on fishing until he hauled out another chinook which solidified for him the honor of being designated the “Idiot of the Week.”)

Stay tuned. The summer’s just started.

 Now let’s take a look at the fishing report for the week of June 22 thru June 29.

 

King Salmon Emergency Orders 

The annual limit of five king salmon 20” or longer has been restored to the Cook Inlet annual limit for fish harvested in the Ninilchik River and all marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point beginning 12:01 a.m., Saturday, June 20, 2015. Any king salmon recorded before Saturday, June 20, on the harvest portion of an Alaska sport fishing license or harvest record card counts towards the Cook Inlet annual limit.

An emergency order rescinded the preseason action that maintained the conservation zone surrounding the Anchor River mouth and regulations associated with the Special Harvest Areas 2 miles north of the Anchor River to Bluff Point from July 1-15.

 

Additional Regulation Reminders

Snagging is allowed in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi starting June 24 through December 31, except in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. Too bad those tight-lining dipsticks at The Hole can’t read. When they get a ticket, it’ll probably take them five minutes to remember out how to sign it with an “X”.

China Poot personal use dipnet fishery opens July 1. Personal use caught sockeye salmon must have both tips of the tail fin removed. Complete regulations are found on page 16 of the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulation Summary booklet.

All anglers sport fishing for king salmon (except stocked landlocked lakes) must either have a king salmon stamp or harvest card. Refer to page 5 of the regulation summary for requirements or an inquiring enforcement official will make a major dent in your day.

 

Halibut  

Halibut fishing continues on the upswing with some serious meat-bearing hawgs being brought aboard.

Sampled fish harvested out of the Homer port averaged 11.7 lbs. (range 5.3 – 50.2 lbs.).  

More and more of the fish are settling into their shallower summer feeding areas to cruise around in search of delicacies such herring, salmon heads, octopus and disgusting homemade baits that would gag an Irish Lord, all served on a circle hook.

Unguided anglers can retain 2 halibut a day, 4 in possession.

Regulation changes are in effect for guided anglers fishing for halibut.  The bag limit for guided anglers is two fish per day, one of any size and one less than or equal to 29 inches in length, and guided anglers have an annual limit of five halibut. 

A more extensive description of these federal regulations can be found at: alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/frules/79fr13906.pdf

You can also contact NOAA fisheries at 1-800-304-4846 or 907-586-7228 with questions about regulations pertaining to sport fishing for halibut.

The department has received reports of “mushy” halibut this season. The flesh of these fish is very soft or flabby, sometimes with pockets of jelly-like tissue, and the flesh is mushy after being cooked.  Experience during years of high prevalence of this condition (1998, 2005, 2011-12) shows that the incidence of these fish can be high for anglers fishing certain locales, so if you catch a fish that feels flabby or does not look as robust and rounded as a healthy halibut should, release it immediately unharmed and consider moving to a different area to avoid these fish. Department research is ongoing.

If you are hitting the water with a charter don’t sweat the flabby flats alert. You are fishing with professionals and they’ll get you into the primo fillets.

If you are piloting a private rig and haul up a ’but that looks like it’s hung over and packing some flab a jelly fish would envy, just rocket on to another spot. These things are rare and not hard to avoid.  

 

Salmon

Trolling for kings has been reported as still pretty good near Point Pogibshi and along the south side of Kachemak Bay, but has kicked down a gear or two from Bluff Point north. 

The normal set ups for king trolling are working well such as flashers and dodgers trailing herring, assorted colors of tube flies (green and silver/blues are nice) along with bling-flashy spoons.

Don’t be surprised to pick up a pink, chum, sockeye or coho nowadays.   

Sport caught pink salmon may be used as bait in the salt water fisheries and the gluttonous halibut are grateful for the ruling.

King salmon fishing remains good in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit. Try salmon eggs, herring (plug cuts are cool) and red or dark pink Vibrax spinners; angling around the incoming tide usually brings new fish in along with an obnoxious seal or two. It’s still a fine time to take a shot at them. The fish that is, not the seals. 

I’m seeing more cameras coming out when someone foul hooks a salmon out there while tight lining or ripping steel. Hopefully, they’ll show up in the “Total Losers” section of YouTube. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch. 

King salmon fishing at Seldovia Lagoon is fine with more fish rolling into the lagoon; hit them during the incoming tide.  Anglers are using the ever popular Vibrax spinners, herring and shrimp as bite bribes.

Blackmouths are beginning to hang out at the head of Halibut Cove Lagoon. 

 

Other Saltwater Fishing

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a riot. Walleye pollock, Pacific cod, a variety of semi ugly flatfish, Dolly Varden char and a sporadic salmon or two can be found lurking in the watery hood out there.

 

Special Note:

I’d like to offer some advice for those of you who enjoy fishing from shore but seem to be clueless about what to do once you land a fish.

First, check to see if it is legally hooked, if not, gently release it without removing it from the water.

If you are inclined to whack your catch with a rock or club, it doesn’t mean pounding the thing into something resembling fresh dip. One solid whop to the top of the head should do just fine and then bleed it.

Don’t stomp and drop-kick the soon-to-be freezer dwellers like you’re playing rugby. You’ll look like a jackass with a hornet stuck in a highly delicate orifice. 

Lingcod may not be harvested until July 1.

 

Freshwaters: Salmon

 The lower sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik Rivers will open to sport fishing July 1.

No fresh water king retention except: hatchery king salmon may be retained in the Ninilchik River after July 1. (Hatchery kings are recognized by the missing adipose fin and healed fin clip scar) See page 59 of the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulation Book.

The Anchor River weir is operational and fish counts are available online at www.adfg.alaska.gov/sf/FishCounts/. 

As of June 22, 6,630 kings have been counted passing the weir. It just keeps getting better.

 

 Shellfish

 Razor Clam Emergency Order

All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are closed to all clams and mussels through December 31, 2015.

The next series of clamming tides run June 30 through July 7.

All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay remain closed for 2015. 

 

Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby Update

As of June 21, the derby leader is Jason Solberg, who reeled in a 199.8-pound halibut. He was fishing aboard the Misty with Captain Shane Blakely of Driftwood Charters 

So far in June, anglers with derby tickets have reeled in five tagged fish — ranging in value from $50 to $500. 

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t at the lagoon floating a herring and giving the seals the flipper.


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