Memorial Day fishing was quiet — too quiet

Memorial Day weekend seemed a bit quieter this year.

I don’t know why. The Spit’s camp grounds were mostly maxed out and parking spots near the ramps and the souvenir shops were rarer than common sense at a beer pong fest.

There were the usual tales of jackasses gone wild such as some obnoxious Neanderthals looking for a rumble at the Fishing Hole’s campground. The pre-dawn chaos was joined by a woman screeching booze-boosted profanities at just under 100 decibels, threatening those within 50 feet with permanent hearing loss and exposure to toxic idiocy. Rumor has it that she’ll be making a special Facebook appearance soon and her choir director will probably not be amused.

On the west beach, a mutant relative to a Dire wolf was happily tethered to a very large spare tire and rim that he considered his private pull toy. He was quite content playing with it until an unleashed mutt with its brains in its butt jumped him. Bad move. The ill-mannered intruder ended up with some marginal owies and a remarkably modified tail while its inattentive master took a header down an embankment trying to break things up. The Dire clone calmly returned to gnawing on what was left of his humongous product by Goodyear. Good doggie (1) Mutt (0) Inattentive Master (Absolute Zero).

As the weekend progressed, visiting the cleaning tables was an attention-grabbing adventure. There were a few halibut being filleted that could feed a small family reunion but also some snack cracker fillers. The few kings that I saw taken by private boats were running from 7 to 12 pounds while a couple of brag-empowering hawgs weighed in at over 18.

I would have had more info on what was caught but the skills of certain knife wielders produced what could only be delicately described as mystery piles of Sushi filleted with a soup ladle.

Now it’s time to take a look at the fishing report for the week of May 28 to June 3:

Regulation Reminders and Emergency Orders

Razor Clam Emergency Order

All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are CLOSED to all clamming through Dec. 31, 2018.

Regulation reminders:

Don’t forget that a king salmon 20 inches or longer that is removed from the water must be retained and becomes part of the bag limit of the person who hooked the fish. The troopers won’t.

Steelhead trout are present in Lower Cook Inlet streams in the spring. Be familiar with identifying steelhead and king salmon before you go fishing. Steelhead may never be retained or removed from the water.

Youth Fishery June 2

The first Youth Fishery at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is Saturday, June 2. A portion of the lagoon will be open to youth 15 years of age or younger from 12:01 a.m. until midnight. Department staff will be present from 2-4 p.m. to help young anglers fish, tie egg loops and fishing knots, and learn the best way to release fish.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

Both private and charter fishing efforts for halibut have been picking up speed and hit a nice peak over the Memorial Day weekend.

Flat hunters have been doing fine within a few miles of shore in Upper Cook Inlet on most days and well into the inlet when conditions are good.

Halibut sizes range from 10 to 250 pounds, with an average size of 14 pounds.

Good ole herring is still doing the trick, but salmon heads, a side of octopus and red eyed jigs are motivators too.

King Salmon

Trolling success for king salmon over Memorial Day weekend was poor to fair. Windy weather limited effort for the second half of the weekend and dramatically increased the sales of Dramamine.

Trolling efforts in Kachemak Bay have been less than exciting and more like a back-alley crap shoot.

Trolling north of Bluff Point has produced some spawners, but success has been fair at best.

Anglers typically focus effort on nearshore areas north of Bluff Point to the Anchor Point Light and near Whiskey Gulch at the end of May when both feeder kings and kings returning to spawn in Cook Inlet can be found in the area.

To find king salmon, they have to be there first. They are a little slow showing up this year. Try fishing a variety of depths up to 100 feet near rocky points and kelp beds. Look for birds feeding on bait fish. If they are all just napping on the water, you’re in trouble.

Still waiting for a bite? Try switching up flasher styles and colors, gear depths, and trolling speed. Consider the direction the tide is moving when trolling. On days with larger tidal exchanges, troll with the current for a more effective presentation.

Kings have begun nosing into the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (The Fishing Hole), in small numbers, but fishing has been pitiable and that’s being upbeat. Try spinners such as blue Vibrax, small plug cut herring or cured eggs suspended about 2 feet beneath a bobber. Give a shot at fishing when the incoming tide begins to flood the lagoon for a chance to practice your casting. OK, maybe a fish.

Bye the way, where were the usual Dumpster bins adjacent to the bathrooms at The Fishing Hole during the holiday weekend? What’s up with that move?

Rockfish

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

Try fishing for them while trolling by using spoons, tube flies, or herring. Jigs also work well. It’s worth the effort. They are delicious unless you are the type of cook who likes his/her steak well done to incinerated and then covered with ketchup. Such a person should not be allowed near rockfish.

Other Saltwater Fishing

If you’re limited by access to a boat or by the weather, fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a great way to wet a line.

Species available include walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Dolly Varden, a variety of flatfish species, and the occasional king.

Not that I want to pick on the Fishing Hole again but there were more people wetting lines off the end of the Spit over the weekend than the lagoon.

Freshwater Fishing

Fresh Water Streams

The Anchor River is open to king salmon Wednesday, May 30, 2018 and June 2-4.

Fishing was poor over Memorial Day weekend; expect poor to fair fishing this week as well. The Anchor has continued to recede and the waters are looking good. Now, if the fish would just show up in applause deserving numbers.

It’s not all bad. There have been some kings caught with the more prolific hits coming in the early dawn hours.

As of May 28, a total of 77 kings have passed through the weir. Last year on that date 736 had rumbled through the counter so let’s hope things start firing up soon.

Deep Creek and Ninilchik River are open to king salmon fishing June 2–4. Fishing was also slow on Memorial Day weekend.

Increased numbers of hatchery king salmon are expected to return to the Ninilchik River this season.

Shellfish

Clamming tides are May 29 – June 1.

Razor clams can be found on beaches along the west side of Cook Inlet and can be accessed by boat or plane. Popular razor clam beaches include the Polly Creek beach, Crescent River Bar, and Chinitna Bay.

Boaters are advised to use caution before traveling across Cook Inlet because of strong tidal currents and variable weather conditions.

Littleneck (steamer) clams can be found in gravel beaches on the south side of Kachemak Bay from Seldovia to Chugachik Island.

Butter clams are found on the islands in China Poot Bay. Butter clams can be found up to two feet deep.

Littleneck clams can be found in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. Try exploring new beaches for success. Typically, littleneck clams are found shallower in the substrate, up to eight inches deep.

Occasionally there are PSP advisories issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Contact the DEC at (907) 269-7501 or visit the DEC PSP webpage for more information at http://dec.alaska.gov/eh/fss/seafood/Shellfish_Home.html

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com, sometimes.

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