I was asked yesterday what I thought about lingcod. I deliberated for a few seconds and then replied, “Well I know from personal experience that they are Freddy Kruger gruesome, have a set of choppers that would give a salmon shark a coronary, and enjoy making a brunch out of their own relatives.
“Other than that they are kind of laidback unless you insult them by staring them dead in the eye or get anywhere near what they consider their personal space.
“They also have explosive tempers and will attempt to rip your lungs out if you hassle them with a baited hook and/or a gaff. They also don’t do well as pets. Why?”
“Nnn, nothing,” the guy stammered taking a step back. “I meant, how do they taste?”
“Oh. Well, I consider them beyond succulent and would rather wolf down a batch of Panko crusted ling and chips than a platter of halibut from a 100+ pound fish.
“Now don’t get me wrong, the smaller halibut, when prepared properly, such as in our local eateries, are ambrosia to the palate. But, when they morph into slabs-with-abs they tend to lose their tenderness until you end up with fillets flying off the home grill that could serve as entrées or bizarre doormats.”
The visitor looked bewildered and strolled briskly back to his cooler.
Anyway, if you are interested, here are a few tips when lingcod hunting.
There are several basic things to consider when searching for lingcod. First, stony bottoms and pinnacles are their ambush grounds. The more rocky and vertical, the more likely you will find them hangin’ in their nooks while sporting a territorial attitude (rough reefs usually between 30 and 330 feet deep).
Second, tide and current makes a big difference. Slow water movement at tide changes is cool because you can fish vertically with less hang-ups and gear loss. When your lure hits bottom pull it up a few feet immediately and start a jigging motion to put verve into your bait set-up. This action will also help you keep from getting embedded into something like an evil rock snag. (Jigs can be most anything glitzy from the standard diamond types to flashy and wicked-cool looking Yo-Zuri jigs.)
Finally, most lingcod get malevolent when first hooked but if you win the duel and get a hefty one into the boat without structural damage to your equipment or body don’t forget to bleed it out immediately to avoid a more pronounced fishy taste.
Remember, this is just one piscator’s way of doing things. Trust the pros that you’ve chartered with or buddies that have already trounced some of these delicious fillet bearing, Ophiodon elongatus (Latin for warthog-ugly greenling).
Now let’s take a look at the fishing report for this week.
King Salmon Emergency Orders
The annual limit of five king salmon 20” or longer has been restored to the Cook Inlet annual limit for fish harvested in the Ninilchik River and all marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point.
Any king salmon recorded before Saturday, June 20, on the harvest portion of an Alaska sport fishing license or harvest record card counts towards the Cook Inlet annual limit.
An emergency order rescinded the preseason action that maintained the conservation zone surrounding the Anchor River mouth and regulations associated with the Special Harvest Areas 2 miles north of the Anchor River to Bluff Point from July 1-15.
Additional Regulation Reminders
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.
China Poot personal use dipnet fishery opened July 1and runs through Aug. 7 upstream of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game markers. Personal use caught sockeye must have both tips of the tail fin removed. Complete regulations are found on page 16 of the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing regulation summary booklet.
Trolling kismet for kings has taken a bit of a dump in Kachemak Bay but the action is fair to good in the outer bay and Cook Inlet near Point Pogibshi to Point Adam.
Anglers are reporting somewhat of a fishing famine when it comes to nailing chinooks north of Bluff Point to the Ninilchik River area.
Trolling enthusiasts are continuing to pick up pinks, chum, sockeye and silvers.
Don’t forget that sport caught pink salmon can be used as bait in the salt water fisheries although the humpies hope you don’t make a big deal out of it.
Early-run silvers are beginning to sneak into the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. Not many so far but some party schools may surf in during next week’s honkin’ tides.
Blackmouth fishing has eased to almost dawdling at Seldovia and Halibut Cove Lagoon.
Sockeye mixed with pinks are easing into Tutka Bay Lagoon.
This is a stocked fishery paid for by enhancement taxes on commercial fisheries. Anglers are reminded to avoid commercial boats operating in the area.
Fishermen on the Anchor River and Deep Creek may not target king salmon and are required to use single hook/ no bait gear through July 15.
After harvesting a hatchery king 20 inches or greater in length, a person may not fish for any species of fish in the Ninilchik River on that same day.
Halibut hunting continues to make excellent headway with bigger and bigger fish being boarded.
Sampled fish harvested out of the Homer port averaged 12.4 lbs. (range 4.0 – 71.8 lbs.).
Unguided anglers can retain two halibut a day, four in possession.
Regulation changes are in effect for guided anglers fishing for halibut. The bag limit for guided anglers is two fish per day, one of any size and one less than or equal to 29 inches in length, and guided anglers have an annual limit of five halibut. A more extensive description of these federal regulations can be found at: http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/frules/79fr13906.pdf
You can also contact NOAA fisheries at 1-800-304-4846 or 907-586-7228 with questions about regulations pertaining to sport fishing for halibut.
Other Saltwater Fishing
Lingcod season opened July 1. The bag and possession limit is two fish and the minimum legal size is 35 inches.
Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit continues to surprise visiting anglers with the variety of species available including tasty Pacific cod, funky looking flatfish, walleye pollock, Dolly Varden and a few drive-by salmon.
Fresh Waters: Salmon
The lower sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River opened to sport fishing on July 1.
Anglers should expect fair to pretty good fishing for hatchery king salmon in the Ninilchik River throughout the holiday weekend.
Salmon roe clusters, plug cut herring, spinners, spoons and jigs should all be advantageous bait and tackle for hooking the hatchery kings. Don’t forget that all wild kings caught must be released.
Expect lackluster fishing for Dolly Varden in roadside streams as most runs are just starting trickle in. Try near the mouth of the streams for a better shot at them.
Dipnetting conquests in China Poot should perk up as the sockeye run starts to strengthen. The peak of this return is around the middle of July.
The Kenai Peninsula stocked lakes fishing conditions are good. Most of these lakes are stocked with rainbow trout which, this time of year, are taken on dry or wet flies, small spoons, spinners, or bait. A brochure listing the locations of the stocked lakes is available on the Sport Fish web site and at ADF&G offices.
All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit remain closed to the taking of all clams and mussels through Dec. 31, 2015.
The next series of clamming tides run from now until July 7.
Razors can be found on beaches along the west side of Cook Inlet and are accessed by boat or plane. Popular razor clam beaches include Crescent River, Chinitna Bay and Polly Creek.
Boaters should use extreme caution before jetting across the inlet because of the strong tidal currents and must keep a vigilant eye on the weather forecast before setting out.
Littleneck (steamer) and butter clams can be found in gravel beaches on the south side of Kachemak Bay from Seldovia to Chugachik Island.
Nicely populated neighborhoods of butter clams are found on the islands in China Poot Bay. They enjoy hanging in the ‘hood up to two feet deep.
Littleneck clams can be found in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. Typically these critters prefer the shallower substrate up to eight inches deep.
If the weather’s nice and you have the time, try some new beaches and if you strike the El Dorado of bivalve mollusks, drop me a line. It’ll be just between you and me.
All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay remain closed for 2015.
Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby Update
A man who wishes to remain anonymous came close to taking the lead in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby, catching a 196.4-pound halibut — but without a derby ticket. The Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center reminds fishermen they can’t win the derby if they don’t buy a derby ticket.
Jason Solberg remains ahead in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby with a 199.8-pound fish caught on June 21 aboard the Misty with Capt. Shane Blakely with Driftwood Charters.
A rare lefthand halibut was caught by Vilas Kratzke of Wisconsin aboard the Tuff Stuff with Capt. Mark from Bob’s Trophy Charters, winning him a $100 prize.
Anglers caught two new tagged fish last week. Robert Borgen of Nikiski got a $50 tag sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce aboard the Falcon with Capt. Tony Arsenault from Falcon Charters. Elizabeth Anderson of Maple Grove, Minn., caught a fish with a $50 tag sponsored by the chamber aboard Bear Force I with Capt. Travis Blount from Big Bear Charters. So far this summer seven tagged fish ranging in value from $50 to $500 have been caught.
Other tag winners are Annie Perizzolo of Aurora, Colo., $100 and a 2009 tag aboard the Tomahawk II with Capt. Greg Sutter from Captain Greg’s Charters; JoAnn Rodamaker of Anchorage, $500 tag sponsored by Adventure Alaska Car Rentals, Inc. on a private boat; and Jeffrey Greenwood of Anchorage, $50 gift card to Cosmic Kitchen on Sea Bae with Capt. Jim Morgan.
Have a safe and rocking Fourth of July weekend!
Nick can be reached at email@example.com if he isn’t sitting on a rock somewhere waiting for the silver run while dreaming of The Clams of El Dorado.