Diehard anglers don’t duck for cover

Labor Day decided to be a bit testy this year. Winds pounded the wilting fireweed generating mini blizzards of white seedling parachutes spinning through the air in search of new beginnings while whitecap seas prematurely ended fishing for many of the small boat crowd.

I’m not trying to imply that things were a bit dull over the weekend but when I start noticing fireweed seed formations instead of what’s flying around off the end of sportsmen’s casting lines, there’s been a significant pause in the action.

Rotten weather doesn’t send everyone high stepping for cover. Some people are so committed that they would troll from a surfboard on the apex of a tsunami wave just for the chance of one last strike before they end up in the middle of the Caribou Hills.  

Here are a couple of examples: First, a couple fishing on the north side interior entrance to The Hole late Monday morning. They were getting hammered by gusts blasting out of south so stiff that seagulls were trying to flag down cabs for a ride to the end of the spit.

Personally, I don’t think there was a salmon cruising in the pond that wasn’t close to being compost with operational fins but the duo was giving it a shot anyway and I genuinely admired their tenacity. Some air bursts were so wicked they had to cast south so their lures would hit the water near the north end of the lagoon. I kid you not.

If I had been doing something like that especially during my bride’s day off she would have reactivated the intervention team she sent to peel my frozen hulk off the side of a steelhead stream last year.

The second example of true toughness was the lone guy fishing off the end of the Spit. He was working hard trying to ferret up close encounters with gilled creatures of the ugly kind that he could stuff in a bucket. It was engrossing to watch him get knocked around by the blustery weather while his significant other stood in the parking lot trying to convince him to seek shelter or at least counseling.         

After around 10 minutes of energetic cajoling by his partnerette, he finally snatched up the pail and marched to the top of the hill where he proudly displayed its contents. She stared down then looked up into his eyes and slowly backed away while he stormed back to the surf’s edge for another fix of stormy mayhem.

My wife gazed at him for a moment and then made some sort of crack about me having blood kin in Alaska that I’ve never told her about.

On a more positive note, a quick check at one of the cleaning counters revealed that some early risers who hit the bay before the medium tempest hit did quite well. One side of the tables held a nice batch of chicken halibut while the other was covered with a mess of smallish salmon.

The rest of the scouting trip was terminated when an afternoon deluge took out our plans for a riverside barbeque and interviews with any returning inlet fishermen who weren’t as green as their raingear.    

Now let’s take a look at some of this week’s state’s fishing report.

Regulation Reminders and Emergency Orders

The flowing waters of the Anchor River, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek and Stariski Creek are restricted to one, nonbaited, single hook through Oct. 31. 

The waters upstream of 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.

Steelhead are starting to make their regal appearance in the Anchor River, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek and Stariski Creek. These streams are catch-and-release only for rainbow/steelhead trout. 

Save yourself some major grief by being able to tell the differences between coho (silver) salmon and steelhead trout before a nice man with a badge does it for you. 

Rainbow/steelhead have black spots over the entire tail fin and have white mouths and gums, while coho salmon have black spots only on the upper lobe of the tail fin and their mouth is black with white gums on the lower jaw. If you are still confused check out the pretty pictures on pages 6 and 7 of this year’s Southcentral Alaska Sports Fishing Regulations Summary booklet. If that doesn’t do it, stay the hell home. 

Saltwater Fishing: Halibut

Halibut fishing continues to ease off.  Anglers are enticing the remaining flats cruising around with customary herring-on-hook entrées garnished with prime lumps of squid parts. Sampled fish landed in the Homer harbor over the past week averaged 18.4 pounds (range of 5-79 pounds). 

Saltwater Fishing: Salmon

Silver fishing has been putting on the brakes in Kachemak Bay, Flat Island and Point Pogibshi. There’s still some fair to good catches of feeder king salmon near Flat Island.  The silver run in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is as over as Miley Cyrus’s chance to star in another Hanna Montana movie.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Lingcod fishing remains fair to good around the Elizabeth and Barren islands for those anglers who have enough left on their credit card limit to get that far out. Ling season is open through Dec. 31 and the bag and possession limit is two fish with a minimum legal size of 35 inches.

Rockfish catches remain pretty good too for those who go after them while fishing for the beer belly, brawling lings.  

Fresh Water Fishing

The lower sections of the Anchor River and Deep Creek are continuing to produce fair catches of healthy silvers. The early morning still rules for when the fish “go on the bite” or when fresh “newbies” arrive on the incoming tides. Fishing for dollies is still very good especially with all of the snacks they have available while the spawners party down. Try tempting the vards with small bright spinners or fly configurations that resemble fish minnows or yummy eggs patterns. 


The next series of clamming tides run today through Sept. 9 and again Sept. 17-21. 


That’s it for “Reeling ’Em In” this year. I want to thank all of you who have sent or called your questions, tips, tales, taunts and tantrums my way. I’d also like to give a special shout-out to our local Alaska Fish and Game crew to sincerely thank them, especially Carolyn and Carol, for their sense of humor and the invaluable information that they provide this column each week. Finally, one last noteworthy show of an appreciation goes out to Lou, Gary, John and Jack, who took the time to share their insights and expertise this summer. Thanks, guys.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com, because hasn’t got a clue on how to shut it down for the winter.