Early morning fishing catches big rewards

Whoa! August just shot by like a peregrine falcon in a free fall attack. Suddenly we’ve tumbled into September where the cranes amp up pounding carbs and protein for their sojourn south and anglers switch gear as the fish runs slide into their fall mode.

Last Saturday, the Anchor River was down and clear enough that the dollies went nuts. Silvers also joined the party along with a few steelhead.

Sunday was pretty righteous also.

I’m an early morning lure flinger and enjoy the sky’s hoary glimmer at the onset of dawn. Why? Because silvers and other sport fish tend to get their freak on just before sunrise and during its initial yawning of light.

The bite can be swift, chaotic and short lived but there are few things more exciting than having a coho slam your setup and go airborne like a competitor in an Olympic gymnastics floor routine. The term “awesome” comes close but somehow just doesn’t cut it.

On sunny days, when direct beams bathe the river, things tend to slow down quickly. Silvers are spooky and avoid daylight like it’s a mama griz with three insatiable cubs. Look for bank overhangs and shaded sections for the lurkers.

Tip: When casting metal, it is important not to stop retrieving until the spinner or spoon is almost at your feet. Silvers will often follow your lure all the way in before striking. I’ve had them do a wicked smackdown just as I was preparing to lift the hook.

A couple of those episodes involved hefty thugs that hit so viciously and without warning that I came excruciatingly close to requiring a change of waders.

If you are using a fly rod and targeting fish holding in slower currents, don’t cast your fly and line on top of them. Cast beyond or to side of where the fish are holding then start your retrieve as short strips with the occasional pause. Silvers will jet out of a school to chase and pop a fly.

Check with your local tackle shop for an insight on what your quarry has had the hots for lately and what type of setup you’ll need to score.

As for me, I’m a Z-Ray fan.

As always, use what works best for you unless you’re being stone skunked then try what the person with a fish on is doing or go sit on a sharp rock and sulk.

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

Regulation Reminders

On the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek and Ninilchik River, bait and treble hooks are no longer allowed. Please familiarize yourself with the differences between a silver salmon and a steelhead. Steelhead/rainbow trout have black spots all over both lobes of the tail, while silvers have black spots only on the upper lobe of the tail. Steelhead/rainbow trout may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Saltwater Fishing: Halibut

Halibut fishing is still rolling along but fewer anglers are chasing them now that school has started and tourists have started south. The larger halibut have begun their migration offshore and the coming fall storms will make for some rough seas. The best fishing occurs around the slack tide.

Herring is super bait, but good ole octopus, squid, salmon heads, and jigs (especially white ones with bright red eyes) will also work some magic. Unguided anglers can retain two halibut a day, four in possession.

Saltwater Fishing: Salmon

Feeder kings are available year round in Kachemak Bay. Check out the fishery going on off the southern tip of the spit. Both kayakers and boats are seeing action.

Other popular locations include: Point Pogibshi, Bluff Point, the islands around Elder Passage, Bear Cove and various other locations on the south side of Kachemak Bay.

Downriggers are essential for trolling in deeper water for the critters. Small herring trolled behind a flasher or dodger is an excellent technique.

Other trolling set-ups for the feeders are glittering tube flies, and spoons trailing behind the dodgers or flashers.

Coho fishing at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is reported as close to being dead as it can get it without an official certificate of demise.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Lingcod season is open through Dec. 31. The bag and possession limit for these stylish beauties with a grin that would scare the S&%* out of Dracula is two fish with a minimum legal size of 35 inches. Fall and winter storms tend to limit lingcod fishing substantially, so be careful out there. The waters near the Barren and Chugach Islands have produced some nice fillets of ugly this year.

Freshwater Fishing

The Kenai Peninsula stocked lakes fishing conditions are good. Most of these lakes are stocked with rainbow trout which can be taken on dry or wet flies, small spoons, spinners, or bait. Give them a try if you have already winterized your boat and are tired of falling into the rivers.


Clamming tides run through Sept. 4, but all eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are closed to all clam harvest through Dec. 31.

Occasionally there are PSP advisories issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Contact them at 907-269-7501, or check out their PSP pages at dec.alaska.gov/eh/fss/seafood/Shellfish_Home.html.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tips, tales or want to explain why marshmallows can be legally used as flotations devices when not being utilized as a s’mores ingredient.