Future looks bright for big halibut

Editor’s note: Due to an editing error in the web version of Reelin’ ‘Em In, the author of  this week’s column was incorrect. Nick Varney is and always has been the genius writer behind Reelin’ ‘Em In. 

Before we roll on this week’s fishing reports, I want to give a special shout out and a heartfelt “thank you” to my departing editor, Lori Evans, for her support, guidance, and profuse patience throughout the years that we worked together.

It was Lori who suggested that I should branch out from the “Unhinged Alaska” column and, because of my love for the sport, take a shot at reaching not only proficient piscatorians but the mildly unbalanced line floggers who couldn’t net a comatose sculpin belly up in a tide pool.

Her insight was spot-on and “Reeling ‘Em In,” was launched in 2009 after the “Casting About” series concluded in 2008.

She didn’t stop there and was highly instrumental in introducing the “Unhinged Alaska” series to the Peninsula Clarion.

It was an honor to publish under her leadership and, although a freelance contributor, I always felt part of her exceptional team of professionals.

I wish Lori her and her cool canine, Brutus, only the very best during their forthcoming travels and am looking forward to hearing the tales from their journey into the future when they return at sojourn’s end.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of July 12 to July 19:

Regulation Reminders

Snagging remains open in the salt water south of Anchor Point except for the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (Fishing Hole), which only opens by emergency order.

China Poot personal use dip net fishery is open and continues through August 7. Personal use caught sockeye must have both tips of the tail fin removed prior to transport. Complete regulations are found on page 12-13 of the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulation Summary booklet.

Note: The sockeyes are in at China Poot and available for sport fishing in salt water and personal use dip netting in freshwater. Access these fisheries during the incoming tide unless you enjoy being stranded on some gravel bar like an intellectually challenged Beluga.

The lower portions of the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Stariski Creek are open to sport fishing except for kings. The chinooks may not be targeted and if hooked, must be released immediately.

Gear remains limited to one unbaited, single-hook artificial lure through July 15. Bait, two hooks and treble hooks are legal gear starting July 16.

In saltwater, closed areas surrounding the Anchor River, Stariski Creek, Deep Creek and the Ninilchik River remain in effect through July 15. Closed area boundaries are detailed on page 71 of the Sport Fishing Regulation Summary booklet.

Lingcod season opened July 1. The bag and possession limit of this toothy beast is 2 fish and the minimum legal size is 35 inches with head attached or 28 inches from tip of tail to front of dorsal fin with head removed. Whatever you decide to do about its head, never turn your back on it.

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 Report

Halibut fishing in Cook Inlet is downright decent and the future looks even better. Throw them some hefty herring on a circle hook and have at it.

If that doesn’t rock their boat, then give octopus, squid, salmon heads, and/or jigs a shot.

Unguided anglers can retain 2 halibut a day, 4 in possession. Regulations for guided anglers can be found by following the link in the “Regulations Reminders” section.

Fish hunters who venture to the outer coast are reporting catches of lingcod and a variety of rockfish including yelloweye, black, dark and dusky.

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a laugh riot especially if you pull something out of the water that resembles a Picasso painting with fangs. Cut the line and then go for the Walleye Pollock, Pacific cod, and some of the edible flatfish cruising around out there.

Trolling triumphs for kings remains as sporadic as our politician’s special sessions throughout Kachemak Bay.

The best action reports have come from the south side of K-Bay from Halibut Cove to Bear Cove.

Fin chasers are reporting increased catches of pinks, chum, sockeye and silvers in the Lower Cook Inlet west of Seldovia.

It has been pretty sad fishing for late run kings from Anchor Point to Deep Creek. Try trolling in shallow water at high tide for a better crack at them.

The king run at the Nick Dudiak Fishing lagoon is falling off a wet cliff. Some coho have been reported but not by anyone I know. A few of us have spotted little jack kings jumping around especially when gnashing seal incisors were nipping at their anal fins. Maybe that’s what’s going on. Just say’n.

Fish &Game seers don’t expect good numbers for another couple of weeks.

Sockeye and pinks are arriving at Tutka Bay lagoon. Most anglers pursue these fish with snagging gear. Pursue a sockeye, accidentally snag a pink is more like it.

Don’t get me wrong pinks are fierce and insolent combatants but it takes more skill to keep them off your line than getting them on it.

Fresh waters fishing report:

There may be a few fresh hatchery kings arriving in the Ninilchik River, but the run should be wrapping up soon. Salmon egg roe clusters suspended under a bobber is a great setup but spinners, spoons and flies can also do the trick.

Dolly Varden fishing has been fair to good in the roadside streams especially in the Anchor where it is also hosting a building throng of pinks.

Try fishing the mouths of these streams for better battle action. Effective gear includes: small, bright single-hook spinners; fly patterns that look like small fish and egg patterns.

Small numbers of pesky pinks have been arriving at other roadside streams as well.


Razor Clam Emergency Order

All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are closed to the taking of all clams through December 31, 2017.

The next clamming tides run from July 20-26.

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 on the Internet, (http://dec.alaska.gov/eh/fss/seafood/Shellfish_Home.html.) for more information.

There will be a Tanner crab fishery opening October 1 and closing February 28, 2018.

All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay remain closed for 2017.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tips, tales or questions that can be solemnly answered in a family newspaper.