Reeling ‘em in: Wear your PFD and learn to swim

I’ve been asked several times if I can recollect landing my first fish. Nope, although I vividly recall the procedures that I had to go through before I was allowed to cast a line into something more than a kiddy pool.

My father and spirited gang of his buddies were ardent fishermen. It didn’t matter whether it was an ocean, lake, stream or an irrigation ditch with suspect swirls, they’d toss a lure into it.

My mother became suspicious that I had inherited dad’s angling addiction after I learned to walk upright and gibber a few words.

One afternoon she found me in the front room steadying myself across a coffee table and staring into a new miniature aquarium.

“Like the little fish, Nicky?”

“Yesh.” I burbled. “Wud tast gud ifen bigur. Aw k fur bayeet tho.”

Before I could spit out a suggestion about a proper netting procedure, I was under her arm and lugged into the garage where dad was busy on his latest project.

“Don, that better be a small bamboo stake for the garden and the line attached to it a tie-up for vines, ‘cause this boy’s not going to learn to fish until he can swim like one.”

Needless to say, the next weekend the family ended up at the local pool where I became Aqua-tot and started down a long, drenched route to becoming part dolphin. Why? My mother had excellent intuition.

From my first angling trip as a toddler ‘til this day, I’ve somehow managed to take numerous dives, trips and inelegant pirouettes into various bodies of water all in the pursuit of sport fish. I’m still around today simply because of what my parents took the time to teach me. I never panicked because I had confidence in my ability to stay afloat and survive the situation especially when alone and far from help.

Life jackets are lifesavers, especially when boating. Even though I could cut through the water like a miniature seal, my folks always geared me up with one whether we were in a craft or active near lakes and streams.

Why this reminisce? Because the other day, I spotted an unattended child come breathtakingly close to doing a header into the fishing lagoon and it brought back a chilling circumstance from several years ago.

A close friend of mine observed a tyke, without floatation gear, trip on a cleat and tumble into the harbor after he became excited and went waddle-running down toward the end of a dock. Luckily, dad was in hot pursuit and immediately popped the youngster out of his predicament. The kid was just fine, but what if his father hadn’t noticed his son’s break for the dock’s terminus and there was no one else around?

One last thing. On three different occasions, I’ve been aboard small vessels when they decided to take on the characteristics of a submarines. No one drowned because they were wearing lifejackets, not scrambling to find one.

Be aware and safe out there. Just knowing how to swim doesn’t always cut it, especially in Alaskan waters.

Now it time to take a look at this week’s Aug. 6-12 report.

Regulation Reminders

The Anchor River, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, and Stariski Creek are open to fishing for Dolly Varden and steelhead/rainbow trout upstream of the 2-mile markers.

Steelhead/rainbow trout may never be removed from the water and must be immediately released.

You may not fish for salmon upstream of the two-mile markers.

The lower portions of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Stariski Creek are open to sport fishing except for king salmon.

Kings may not be targeted and if hooked, they must be released immediately.

The bag and possession limit for other salmon is three per day, three in possession — only two per day, two in possession may be coho.

On the Anchor River, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, and Stariski Creek, bait and treble hooks are legal gear through Aug. 31.

Anglers are allowed to snag fish in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi except for the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (Fishing Hole), which only opens by emergency order.

China Poot Creek personal use dip net fishery closed Aug. 7. That should be easy to remember, if not, get out your check book.

Lingcod season remains open. The bag and possession limit is two fish and the minimum legal size is 35 inches with the head attached or 28 inches from tip of tail to font of the dorsal fin with the head removed. (Some people can’t stand being stared at by something that would love to change places.) Lingcod which are gaffed must be retained. A gaff may not be used to puncture any fish intended or required to be released.

The marine waters of Tutka Bay Lagoon within 100 yards of the hatchery net pens are closed to sport fishing for any species.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

Halibut fishing rolled steadily along last week. Most vessels ventured west from the Homer Harbor, although a few weather days kept boats tucked into the inner bay. Many of the halibut brought back were small, but two over 200 pounds and a few just under 100 pounds hit the filleting tables.

With the kind of tides headed our way this coming week, it will behoove you to fish near slack tide so you won’t need as much weight to keep your line on the bottom while anchored. Free weights might work but they won’t do your back any good.

King Salmon

Hot spots for feeder king trolling continue pop up around the bay. Last week they were near Bluff Point and off the Homer Spit. Your best bet is to chase the chinooks at their usual hangouts that now include no-brain-cells pinks and high-flying silvers.

Feeder kings like cruising in a variety of depths up to 100 feet near rocky points and kelp beds and the sea birds love ratting them out.

Coho Salmon

A plethora (really a lot) of coho are present both inside and outside the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (the Fishing Hole). Check out who’s catching and with what, then filch their technique if it’s legal. Silvers can be persnickety and want cured eggs on one tide and nothing but herring on the next. Fishing is hotter on the incoming and outgoing tides. Hunt in the currents just outside or inside the mouth of the lagoon.

Try No. 3 bright bladed spinners, plug-cut herring or eggs suspended 10 to 18 inches beneath a bobber. Take note of the depth your prey is swimming and adjust the deepness of your bait accordingly. If you get a take down, wait a few seconds and then set the hook.

Trolling for silvers in the Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay’s inner waters including off the Homer Spit has pretty fair.

Shore flingers are also taking coho at high tide along the Homer Spit north of the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. Make sure to respect private property in this area.

Sockeye and Pink Salmon

There are sockeye and pink salmon in Tutka Bay Lagoon. This is a stocked fishery paid for by enhancement taxes on commercial fisheries. Avoid commercial boats operating in the area.

Lingcod

Lingcod fishing was pretty decent this past week. Both private and charter vessels have returned to the Homer Harbor with combos of halibut, lingcod, and rockfish. Boats targeting lingcod continue to travel ‘around the corner’ to areas near the Chugach Islands.

Please remember to carefully release all undersized lingcod and to never use a gaff on a fish intended to be released.

Rockfish

More nonpelagic rockfish species have been caught in waters near Chugach and Perl islands.

Rockfish are found near rocky points and in kelp beds. The most prevalent places to target pelagic rockfish in Kachemak Bay are near Bluff Point and Point Pogibshi.

They’ll strike trolled spoons, tube flies, or herring. Jigs will also rile them up.

Shellfish

Razor Clam Emergency Order

Per Emergency Order No.2-RCL-7-01-18 and 2-RCL-07-02-18 all eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are closed to all clamming through Dec. 1. The next clamming tides are Aug. 9-14.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Coho fishing has been fair and should continue to improve in the streams on the lower Kenai Peninsula. High water brought a push of coho salmon through the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River weirs over the weekend. Many methods can be effective, including eggs or herring under a bobber and spinners. Try fishing on an incoming tide near the river mouth on the Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, or Anchor River. Early morning usually rocks.

Fishing for Dolly Varden above the two-mile markers should be fair to good this week. There were a few days of good fishing last week prior to high water in the streams. Most dollies appear to have passed the weirs on Deep Creek and Anchor River. Fly fisherman are doing well with beads and streamers, while small spinners and spoons have been effective with spinning gear.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t busy trying to catch more fish before the subsistence nets hit the water.

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