Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Finicky silvers have specific bait requirements, doncha know

Update: This came in too late for the Homer News prime time edition of the paper but in time for a web heads-up. A Youth-Only Fishery will be held on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit.

The huge silver run expected at The Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon this year is crawling along in second gear, but some nice coho are being taken along with a straggler king or two. Some of the latter are in good enough shape to smoke — just remember you still need to record the chinook and land them gently lest their aging heads snap off.

Where the big pulse is loitering, if there is going to be one, is anyone’s guess.

Let’s hope that they’ll storm the lagoon during these forthcoming big tides (Friday should be a hummer with a minus 5.3 at 10:11 a.m.). Fishermen will be able to troll while on anchor and over-sleeping otters will be waking up in the surf off Kodiak.

Boat hunts for coho have been pretty decent for those savvy enough to discover areas abundant with bait fish and cool waters. Knowledgeable skippers look for these schools on their fish-finders and/or scan for birds diving and feeding. Why? Because salmon will attack a ball of baitfish from beneath and tear through the middle of the mass, smacking the tasty morsels with their heads and tails. They’ll then take a 180 looking for cripples to polish off while driving their prey to the surface where lazy-ass seabirds binge on the panicked horde without much of an effort other than getting their beaks and butts wet.

Note: Whether you are fishing from a boat, a line tied to your survival suit, or an easy chair on the beach, one of the most important factors in attracting salmon is the action or the smell emanating from your lures. Presenting an erratic or wounded fish simulation is a cool methodology. Plus, it’s also a good idea to have a clue as to what they are salivating over at the moment.

How? Well, this may sound disgusting to some line-flinging weenies, but splitting the discarded bellies of gutted fish that you or someone else have nailed is a good way to discover what the predators are turning into sushi. Why offer them roe infused hummus when they are craving a candle/needle fish hoagie? That goes for the Fishing Hole too.

Roe floated 12 to 18 inches below a bobber fished on the outside of the lagoon and in the currents of the changing tides is working well, but give it an hour and small plug-cut herring will become the hot item — but only if you float them upside down 2.75 inches below a chartreuse and orange bobber with a siren activated flashing light attached. Silvers are finicky that way.

Now it’s time to take a look at the fishing report for the week of July 30 – Aug. 5.

Freshwater Fishing

The upstream sections of the Anchor River, Ninilchik River and Deep Creek opens today, Aug. 1, to fishing for all species except for salmon.

Fishing with beads behind spawning pink and king salmon is a righteous way to pop dollies this time of year. The best angler access is on the Anchor River from Mile 160 on the Sterling Highway to the south end of the North Fork Road.

Coho are nosing around the lower portion of all three of these streams, but don’t get all pumped up yet and expect consistent fishing success.

Saltwater Fishing


The silver action is still pretty spotty, but has improved over the last week with most of the take centered along the south side of the outer bay and the silver ridge area.

A high-level number of pinks are still being caught. That’s cool — at least somebody loves them or at least their cats do. But, if you are not a humpy fan, the best way to avoid hooking into those whackos is to check out other locations or set your gear at deeper depths. By the way, good luck with getting your lures down through the throngs of humps unless there is an emergency order authorizing the use of depth charges.

Chinook fishing has improved slightly with most fish being caught along the south side of the bay from Eldred Passage all the way to Point Adam.


Larger halibut are moving into areas nearer to the Homer Spit, with good reports from the inner bay.

Note: I received some very reliable recounts of some 30 to 40 pounders being taken in Mud Bay lately.

The most reliable flat fishing is still in outer Kachemak Bay and beyond.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Reds are continuing to wander around in China Poot, but their numbers have dwindled over the past week.

Fishing safaris are travelling well outside of Kachemak Bay for regular action when it comes to lingcod and nonpelagic rockfish. Most hunters drift over rocky pinnacles utilizing jig lures to stalk lurking lingcod.

There are some large minus tides this week that will provide an opportunity for razor clamming in West Cook Inlet. There are several locations with good numbers of clams, including Crescent River Bar and Polly Creek. A row boat is not the way to travel over there. Be safe, sane, and aware of the weather before crossing the Cook Inlet to access these locales.

Emergency Orders

Emergency Order 2-RCL-7-01-19 and 2-RCL-7-02-19 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 for 2019.

For additional information, please contact the Fish and Game Homer office at (907) 235-8191.

Nick can be reached at if he isn’t being out-fished by a visiting 12-year-old piscatorian from Ohio named Liam who knows how to sling a lure and has battled walleye the size of some of our medium-sized kings. It’s going to be an interesting week.

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