Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: How to introduce a youngster to Alaska fishing — and get skunked, too

Have you ever experienced a quintessential week of angling where you were able to introduce a young visitor to such a cool Alaska adventure?

Most of you probably have but, if you haven’t, I highly recommend that you give it try.

Jane’s sister, Florence, and her 12-year-old grandson, Liam, recently spent seven days with us and we were quickly reminded that it takes a lot to wear out a young man bent on enjoying his Alaska sojourn to the fullest.

They were from Ohio, and Liam, a fishing enthusiast, had never experienced anything close to the thrill of handling a frenzied silver’s rocketing strike or the exhausting retrieval of a halibut from 200 feet of water during the sea river run of a minus 5-foot tide.

It didn’t take him long to realize that he wasn’t in the land of perch-n-things anymore.

At the end of my column last week, I noted that “Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t being out-fished by a visiting 12-year-old piscatorian from Ohio named Liam.” Well, I’m now seriously considering a secondary career as a soothsayer because it came true, not only once, but thrice.

Liam acclimated quickly to the salmon challenge and trounced me every day we hit The Hole. Jane even piled on during our last outing by landing a nice coho while I was ascribed to the position of bait man, line disengagement specialist and fish walloper. Such is the life of guy who gets skunked three days in a row.

To be aboveboard, he received excellent tutelage from myself and Tom, the Mayor-Of-All-He-Beholds at the lagoon. Our student learned fast and landed more than the “T Man” one morning.

Thanks Mayor and yeah, I know, I still owe you two bait herring.

On the next-to-last day of his visit, Liam and Jane took a half day, large vessel, excursion to try a nail some halibut after the all-day charter they had originally scheduled had to cancel because of nasty seas the day before.

The tides were smokin’ but they both managed to haul in their limits, albeit somewhat small, to add to his home-bound fish box combo.

Now one would think that multiple mornings of 03:30 fishing expeditions, a trip across the bay to Seldovia, a south side excursion with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies during the minus tides, tide pooling along Bishop’s Beach with a refuge ranger from the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitors Center, and then a Beluga Slough ranger-led walk would slow a young dude down a bit. Nope, between eating and sleeping, he managed to spend quality time roaming the beach below us until being mustered back to the cabin via two-way radio.

They are back home now and Jane and I would like to thank Homer for its gracious hospitably while they were here. You’re the best.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of August 6 – August 12.

Freshwater Fishing

Dolly Varden fishing in the upstream section of the Anchor River has been good. Finagle your gear featuring beads or small spoons and spinners in behind the spawning pinks and kings.

Coho are starting to zip and pop up in the lower portions of Deep Creek along with the Anchor, and Ninilchik rivers. Fishing may be spotty until river levels rise with some much-needed rain. As mentioned in previous reports, silvers often get their serious bite-on in the early morning before the sun hits the water. Floating eggs beneath a bobber or flinging flashy spinners will tend to rile them up.

Saltwater Fishing

Salmon

Silver fishing in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon has shown major improvement especially as the tide floods into the hole. Fishing by the dawn’s early light can abruptly catch fire during the wee hours of the morning but shut off just as quickly as the initial sun rays touch down on the surface of the pond.

Trolling near the Homer Spit has been producing silvers as well as some wandering kings.

Oodles of brain stems with fins also known as humpies are still being caught where respectable salmon also cruise. Either try setting your gear to varying depths or jet out to a different sector of the salty in an attempt to avoid them.

Chinook fishing has improved marginally in the last couple weeks, with a majority of the kings being thumped along the Homer Spit and the south side of the bay from Eldredge Passage to Point Adam.

Halibut

Heftier halibut are moving into areas within Kachemak Bay. There have been sound accounts of steady halibut strikes with larger flats in the mix on the east side of the Homer Spit.

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

Other Saltwater Fishing

There are still sockeye coming into China Poot but the run is backing off and the personal use dipnet fishery closed on Aug. 7.

Lingcod and nonpelagic rockfish hunters continue to travel well outside of Kachemak Bay for recurrent catches of their quarry. Drifting over rocky pinnacles while teasing your targets with jigs will normally work well.

Pelagic rockfish can consistently be picked up while trolling or jigging in waters near Fourth of July Creek, Point Pogibshi, and Bluff Point.

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 ADF&G Homer office at (907) 235-8191.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he’s finally emerged from sulking in his safe place after being out-fished by a 12-year-old saltwater novice.

Quit laughing, Tom.

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