Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In:

Things were upscale, breezy and cool at the spit’s fishing hole last Friday until a noon signal heralded that snagging was actually legal until 23:59 Sunday.

Suddenly, things heated up as the air filled with weighted treble hooks reminiscent of a major mosquito bloom in the high arctic.

The tide was out, so the fish were concentrated, lowering the playing field enough that one couple who had pounded the pond for three days without landing anything but a cerebrally challenged smolt nailed their daily limit within 45 minutes.

Chinook were hitting the banks sideways, tail first and, sometimes, airborne. Coolers were crammed, and some of the maniacal floggers even came back for seconds and thirds just to make sure they had their yearly quota instead of the two allowed. Some even recorded their catch.

The lagoon’s presiding mayor and raconteur, Tom, reported that a protection officer was present Friday through Sunday and probably got writer’s cramp from all of the tickets/warnings he wrote. Thank you officer. He also added that it was the second-best harvest since 2012 with 2016 still holding the crown.

Generally, everyone looked like they were having a great time, although there were a few disgruntled wannabee pescatorians who just couldn’t the master the highly technical, ‘cast and jerk’ techniques, much less land a fish they nearly beat to death with a net.

Some amazing tackles were made when kings broke loose after hitting the shore, generating flashbacks of county fair competitors floundering around during greased pig roundups. The only difference from those days was that some of the hot pursuit expletives fired off last Friday would have, in all probability, resulted in public floggings.

It didn’t take long until combat cleaning commenced at the processing tables as they became as congested as the lagoon’s parking lot. The area was jammed up tighter than a peregrine falcon’s butt in a power dive and harder to negotiate than the crossover lanes in a figure-8 demolition derby.

The tables were a story unto themselves hosting an amazing display of harvesting skills, producing filets of pure perfection and artistry to piles of meat that looked as though they were scraped off with a garden trowel and tenderized with the business end of a war club.

It was an opening of wild swinging rods, Three Stooges netting acts and fish dispatches featuring every technique from boot stomps to rock whacks and body slams that turned chinooks into mush before they even met the business side of a knife.

Tom, who monitored the opening from his mayor’s regal executive chair, related that 181 kings plus 13 jacks were taken in the first two hours and 45 minutes. He estimated a total of 300-350 fish hit shore during the first 12 hours.

What a day. What a take. That goes for both the participants and the ticket issuer, of course.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of June 29.

Freshwater Fishing

The Ninilchik River remains open to fishing for hatchery kings for the rest of the season. The bag and possession limits were increased for hatchery king salmon from one to two fish, and there is no annual limit.

The hatchery king fishing is starting to drag its fins. Fishing the lower river as the tide recedes might get you into some new shiny sides. Dolly Vardens are starting to wander up but nothing to get all riled up about.

Drifting eggs under a bobber are the primo king-getters, but plug cut herring, spinners, plugs and flies will bend your rod too.

The Homer Reservoir is a cool place to take kids to fish for dollies. The fish aren’t line snappers, but they are plentiful. Shooting a small spinner from shore could keep things exciting for them.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

Halibut fishing continues to rock the rods. The tides will be chilling out as the week rolls along.

Marine weather forecast looks mostly favorable for the week in Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet, which will, again, let ‘but stalkers get to farther out offshore hot spots.

Always keep the southwest day breeze in mind when making the trip back to the harbor in the afternoon.

Herring impaled on a circle hook works great, but octopus, salmon heads and jigs also work well. Pure white jigs with bright red eyes were responsible for some really nice flats last week.

King Salmon

Trolling takes for chinook were middling to totally acceptable in Kachemak Bay last week with the fish found throughout the area. Bluff Point produced the best action, and there was a plethora of bait in the water column near Point Pogibshi.

The Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is mostly devoid of kings after the snagging fest last weekend. A few schools of jacks and larger fish are still cruising around wondering just what in the hell happened if you want to give those lingerers a shot. Sans snagging, of course.

The Chinook returns to the Seldovia slough and lagoon are applying the brakes. Drifting salmon roe clusters or running plugs from the bridge will still generate strikes, and flipping spinners from shore will also do the trick in the lagoon area.

Sockeye Salmon

Alert! Sockeyes are starting to nose into China Poot and Tutka Bay Lagoon. The reds can be snagged in the saltwater in front of China Poot Creek. China Poot Creek opens to dipnetting on July 1.

Other Saltwater Fishing

If you would like to fish off the end of the Homer Spit, there are a variety of flatfish, walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Dolly Varden and some alien looking creatures that should not be taken on shore. Tip: Dollies seem to prefer small silvery or orange spinners.

Have a great Fourth of July!

Emergency Orders

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-18-21 increases the hatchery king salmon bag and possession limits in the Ninilchik River from one fish to two fish 20” or greater in length and removes the annual limit effective through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-17-21 closes sport fishing for king salmon within one mile of shore in the saltwaters of Cook Inlet north of the latitude of Bluff Point (59° 40.00’ N. lat.). This regulatory change is effective through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-16-21 closes the Anchor River and Deep Creek to all sport fishing effective through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-08-21 reduced the king salmon annual limit north of Bluff Point from five to two fish through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, 2021.

Emergency Order 2-RCL-7-04-21 and 2-RCL-7-05-21 closed all EASTSIDE Cook Inlet beaches to clamming for all species from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit in 2021.

Until next week…

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t sitting on the bluff overlook scouting for the first sign of silvers.

A fisherman catches a salmon in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon before the tide washed in on June 25. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

A fisherman catches a salmon in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon before the tide washed in on June 25. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

Fishermen gathered in droves to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Hole on Friday, June 25, when snagging opened. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

Fishermen gathered in droves to the Nick Dudiak Fishing Hole on Friday, June 25, when snagging opened. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

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