As part of research, ADF&G wants to talk to anglers

The time has come for the commencement of this year’s fish runs which coolly coincides with the roll out of Reeling ’Em In for 2014.

Once again we will be bringing you what lure soakers and draggers are scoring with in the open waters along with hints as to where to find and hopefully hook up with your prey of the day. 

But first, there are some significant changes in the fishing regs this year. 

 Take a solid look at them before you sink a line or you may end up having an up close and personal interface with a grumpy wildlife trooper, his ticket book and “bottomless ink” pen.

 First: king salmon 

These changes are summarized below and are in effect through Monday, June 30.

The combined annual limit is two king salmon 20 inches or greater in length for fish harvested from May 1 to June 30 in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and all marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point.

The closed area marker south of the Anchor River was relocated to the Anchor Point Light (59º 46.14 minutes N).

After harvesting a king salmon 20 inches or greater from either the Anchor River, Deep Creek or the Ninilchik River, anglers are required to stop fishing for any species in these streams for the rest of the day.

Anglers may only use one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure on the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River.

Ninilchik River king salmon bag and possession is one wild or hatchery-reared fish during regulatory weekend openings in May and June; beginning July 1, bag and possession is limited to one hatchery-reared king salmon.

The Anchor River is closed to sport fishing on Wednesdays. 

 Shellfish emergency orders

The Ninilchik Beach areas from the north bank of Deep Creek to a marker located approximately 3.2 miles north of the Ninilchik River are closed to the taking of all clam species.  

The bag and possession limit for razor clams harvested from the remaining eastside Cook Inlet beaches, extending from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit, is reduced to the first 25 razor clams dug per day and only 25 razor clams may be in possession.  These restrictions are effective through Dec. 31.

 New sport fishing regulations

Sport-caught pink salmon may be used as bait in the salt water fisheries. 

Do I hear sighs of relief out there? It was tough always looking over your shoulder wasn’t it?

 Halibut

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

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

Salt waters: halibut

Early-season halibut has been sporadic and most fish are small but some charters and private boats have been scoring some beautiful lunkers in the 50 pound-plus class. You might have to travel a bit but they are there and hungry.

Salt waters: salmon

Trolling success for feeder king salmon has been improving from Bluff Point north.  

Early-run king salmon are typically cruising the shallow, near-shore, salt waters of Anchor Point, Whiskey Gulch and Deep Creek this time a year. 

If you are talented at not running aground and/or hanging up your gear on submerged objects, you might want to take a shot at those silver beasts. 

King salmon are expected to start returning to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit but fishing success is expected to be slow.

There are some rumors floating around that a few fish have been taken off the rocks plus a couple or more inside and outside the hole. One of the sources was sitting on a half full cooler of Bud so his credibility may be in question. 

As a part of the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has begun a project looking at the genetic stock composition of the marine king salmon fishery.  There are port samplers stationed at the Homer Harbor, and Deep Creek and Anchor Point tractor launches conducting quick interviews and collecting biological information, scales, and genetic clips from sport caught king salmon. If you fished for king salmon in Cook Inlet, regardless of success, the department would like to talk to you. More information on the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative can be found at: http://dfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=chinookinitiative.main

Fresh waters: Salmon

Ninilchik and Anchor rivers and Deep Creek, as defined by the ADF&G markers will open to fishing at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 24, through midnight, Monday, May 26.

The water conditions are good and levels are low.

Expect poor to fair fishing for kings, but excellent barbequing weather for the backup bratwurst you haul along just in case you get skunked because you are unable to crawl to the river after the arrival night’s festivities.

Speaking of festivities, under these Red Flag conditions, one careless camper can ruin the long weekend for thousands of people so be very careful out there.

Heads up: Steelhead trout are starting to leave the rivers and enter the saltwater.  Make sure you know the differences between kings and steelheads before you go whacking the streams. 

Keeping or roughing up a steely is deeply frowned upon by the authorities and the guy filming you with his iPhone — so practice good fish-handling if you catch one. 

Hooked steelhead must not be removed from the water and they must be released immediately.

Shellfish

Hardshell clam diggers are reminded that the sport, personal use and subsistence bag and possession limits for littleneck and butter clams in Cook Inlet and Resurrection Bay is a combined limit of 80 clams. They also are reminded that the minimum size limit of littleneck clams is 1.5 inches in length across the widest part of the shell and the minimum size for butter clams is 2.5 inches in length across the widest part of the shell.

All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay are currently closed.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tips, tales or grumps that you think other pole benders would appreciate. 

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