The Ninilchik River on May 18, 2019, in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

The Ninilchik River on May 18, 2019, in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Reeling ‘Em In: King run is fishing hole is good, but neurotic

The kings are coming into The Fishing Hole in heftier schools, but they remain Beverly Hills snobbish when it comes to what and when they will strike.

The Hole’s mayor, Tom, who governs an area the size of his $4.99 Wal-Mart special, customized fighting chair, was gracious enough to share his weekly intel with us.

He observed that 200-300 fish were steadily staging in the lagoon, but were not feeding during any predicable “bite on” sequence except when he was launching his lighted bobber between 1 and 3 a.m. There was also some good action during last Sunday’s nightfall, but just like everything else, the evenings have not produced dependable results.

The blue-and-red Vibrax lures do the trick when things heat up along with cuts of mackerel below a bobber. The gangs of chinooks have about 10-15% jacks rolling with them. Don’t forget that they count toward your daily limit.

Note: One troubling observation was that many of the larger remaining kings are starting to take on color and one that Tom fileted last week had paler meat. Uh oh.

The blackmouths’ attitude this year reflects a run about 10 years ago when the kings entered the lagoon in bigger numbers but were finicky to the point that, in the morning, they coveted only Vibrax spinners with silver bladed chartreuse bodies or plug-cut herring. By late evening globs of gork on a hook exhumed from a fish-cleaning Dumpster would work. Come the following sunrise, they wouldn’t touch anything but hand massaged roe dipped in fermented herring oil and only if the seawater was 49.34 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind from the southeast at 2 knots gusting to 50, so this neurotic run is nothing new.

It’s time now to take a look at the expanded fishing report for the week of June 16 – June 22.

Emergency Orders:

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-21-20 restricted gear in the Ninilchik River to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure from Tuesday, June 16 through Wednesday, July 15, 2020, and removed the annual limit for hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater from Tuesday, June 16 through Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-16-20 closed king salmon fishing within 1 mile of shore north of Bluff Point from Wednesday, June 3 through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-15-20 closed the Anchor River and Deep Creek drainages to all sport fishing from Wednesday, June 3 through 11:59 p.m. July 15, 2020.

Emergency Order 2-RCL-7-03-20 and 2-RCL-7-04-20 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 2020.

2020 Regulations Revised for Charter Halibut Anglers

On May 20, the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) met in a special session to recommend changes to the charter-caught halibut size and annual limits in IPHC Regulatory Areas 2C and 3A. These regulatory changes were recently approved on June 15, and are effective immediately:

In Area 3A the charter angler daily bag limit remains at two halibut per day, with one fish of any size and one fish that is no more than 32 inches in length.

There is no longer an annual limit for charter anglers in Area 3A and charter anglers may retain halibut all days of the week (no charter closed days).

Freshwater Fishing

King Salmon

The Ninilchik River reopened on June 16 and should provide some fine fin hunting. Check the aforementioned Emergency Order 2-KS-7-21-20 to keep yourself from highly annoying law enforcement officials. Take a swing at fishing the incoming and outgoing tides at the harbor, the birth of dawn, or when the river starts to rise from rainy weather.

It pays to have options with you in case the chinooks aren’t buying what you’re selling. Size four spinners, jigs, and plugs usually work along with knowing where to present them.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

As you have probably noticed, the winds have been picking up rather nicely in the afternoons, making for some “bouncy house” conditions out there.

For those who can manage to crawl out of the sack early enough to make it out of the harbor before they kick up, the halibut fishing has been good with some nice slabs being pulled onboard.

The heftier tides heading our way during the ensuing days will make it a bit challenging to anchor and get your lures on the bottom rather than beaching themselves on the west side of Cook Inlet. Try drifting instead and be sure to use enough weight to reach the seabed.

The best halibut action continues to be out in the middle of Cook Inlet 20-40 miles from the harbor. For the procrastinators and late risers, if the day zephyrs are already raising a ruckus, areas near the islands (i.e. Hesketh and Yukon) or Tutka Bay can produce some nice take-downs.

King Salmon

Bank stalkers continue to try and outsmart the seals at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon while experiencing some fair to middling fishing success. Both bait and metal have been doing well when the fish decide to give you a thrill. The tide change-outs continue to produce more strike activity than a placid pond. Good things being said about take downs outside of the lagoon during the outgoing tide and, as usual, around daybreak.

Reports of a good chinook landings just south of Bluff Point in the last week.

Northern Kenai Peninsula updates

Advisory Announcement EO 2-KS-1-22-20

Released June 15, 2020 and expires July 31, for the Kenai River King Salmon sport fishery starting July with retention of king salmon less than 34 inches and no bait: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is implementing the following sport fishing regulation restrictions on the Kenai River late-run king salmon fishery effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 1 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 31. The use of bait is prohibited and the bag and possession limit is restricted to one king salmon less than 34 inches in total length per day, on the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek. The bag and possession limit for king salmon less than 20 inches in length remains at ten fish in those waters open to king salmon fishing.

This sport fishing restriction is in conjunction with the Kenai River early-run king salmon sport fishing restrictions issued June 8. Sport fishing for king salmon of any size in the Kenai River is closed from an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake will remain in effect through July 31.

Advisory announcement EO 2-KS-1-23-20

Kasilof River King salmon sport fishery starting July with no bait and single-hook artificial lure: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is prohibiting bait and multiple hooks in the Kasilof River drainage effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 1 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 31. The use of bait is prohibited and only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used in the Kasilof River from its mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge. Single-hook means a fishhook with only one point. Anglers may harvest either one naturally-produced or hatchery-produced king salmon per day from the Kasilof River from the mouth upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge.

Until next week …

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.

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