Halibut dining on herring, squid

This summer the “Reeling ‘Em In” gmail inbox has been busier than a confessional booth on the day after Mardi Gras. 

There have been questions about fishing techniques, how to tell the difference between certain species and when and where to fish. We even had a request for directions to a great burger joint because they were down here for the scenery and preferred landing their fillets in a supermarket where they wouldn’t get fish scales on their Birkenstocks. 

How do you answer a request like that? Anyone with any class knows that to consume a truly great burger requires the use of two hands and a half case of absorbent pads just to contain the bun’s overflow. I recommended ditching the Birkens and hitting town sporting shiny Xtratufs and new Carhartts so it wouldn’t matter what they stepped in or got into, they’d still appear refined by local standards. 

Mail also has rolled in from anglers who own small boats and are curious about the halibut fishery on the east side of the Spit in Mud Bay.  

Until last weekend, I hadn’t bumped into anyone who had given it a shot this season, although I have spotted an upswing in the little fleet that shows up out there around this time of year.

Four guys filleting some plump-looking flats on the harbor’s tables provided a bit of insight after I stopped to shoot the breeze. 

Their smallest fish looked like that if it still had gear in its mouth it could have bulked up to about 12 pounds. The remaining five were between 15 and 32 pounds. 

They said that they had “slammed the hook to them” at a depth of 60 feet during an incoming tide and were around two miles out in Mud Bay using herring and a stink bait that they were kind enough to share a whiff of. 

It took a few minutes for my eyesight to return and my nurse-wife claims I should regain normal olfactory functions within a month. I swear that guck was so wicked that it could kill every land scavenger a mile downwind of it, but they claimed it was awesome for drawing in flats. 

Hey, I’m all for discovering new attractants, but when it comes to using something that would make a bilge rat power hurl, I’m opting out. I’m still amazed that the drippings from the brew didn’t melt holes in their hulls. 

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

The Anchor River, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek and Stariski Creek remain closed to king salmon fishing. Kings may not be targeted in these streams and any chinook caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Snagging is allowed in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi through Dec. 31, except in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. 

Halibut fishing continues to rock along. ’But bangers are reporting fine success using herring with a side slab of squid on circle hooks. 

Sampled fish landed in the Homer harbor over the past week averaged 14.6 pounds (range of 4.2– 99 pounds). 

Trolling success for feeder kings is reported as sluggish in Kachemak Bay and slow to almost interesting off Bluff Point. 

Silver salmon catches have been reported off of Point Pogibshi, in Kachemak Bay and near Bluff Point. Watch for gangs of diving seabirds and jumpers. Coho are notoriously narcissistic and love flying out of the water so they can catch their reflections on the way down. 

A few silvers have been reportedly caught in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and along the east side of the Homer Spit. (That’s nice to hear. The only things my buds and I have seen taken out there in the last few days have been dogs for a stroll and a majorly miffed bullhead the size of a soggy McMuffin.)

Sockeye and large schools of pink salmon have arrived into Tutka Bay Lagoon. This is a stocked fishery paid for by enhancement taxes on commercial fisheries. Be cool and avoid commercial boats operating in lagoon.

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a party. All sorts of species are available including Walleye pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish and creatures that you’d rather not see surface ever again.

Lingcod fishing is fair around Elizabeth and Chugach Islands for those who can afford the gas and wish to dine on something that would prefer you on a plate rather than vice versa. The bag and possession limit is 2 fish with a minimum legal size of 35 inches. The season runs through Dec. 31.


Personal Use

The China Poot personal use dip fishery is open to Alaska residents through Aug. 7. No permit is required. The bag and possession limits are six sockeye per person per day. Only sockeye may be retained. The red catches are being reported as fair to good, depending on your timing.

Fresh Water Fishing 

Dolly Varden fishing is reported as slow to pretty fair in roadside streams.

The Anchor River has been providing some good action for Vardenites.

Large numbers of chum salmon along with lower numbers of pink salmon are entering streams on the south side of Kachemak Bay. Humpy Creek and the Seldovia River are popular streams to fish for chum and pink salmon.

The Cook Inlet and North Gulf Coast sport, personal use and subsistence Tanner crab fisheries remain closed for the 2013-2014 season.

Good clamming tides die out on July 26 so you had better get your dig on. Hunting for razor clams on Ninilchik beaches is abysmal. Give it a shot on the Clam Gulch shorelines.

Don’t blow it and forget that the razor clam bag and possession limit has been decreased to the first 25 clams dug through Dec. 31, 2013.  

Diggers are reminded that possession limit refers to the number of unpreserved clams a person may have in their possession. Preserved is defined on page 5 of the Southcentral sport fishing regulation summary booklet. 

The bag and possession limit for littleneck and butter clams is a combined limit of 80 clams. Diggers are reminded that the legal size for littleneck clams (steamers) is 1 ½ inches or wider and the legal size for butter clams is 2 ½ inches or wider. To distinguish littleneck clams from butter clams, refer to page 9 of the Southcentral sport fishing regulation summary booklet. 

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

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have tips, tales or a recipe for a super stink bait that won’t radiate an aroma that’ll snuff out small woodland creatures near his cabin while he’s mixing it.