It’s time to fire up the 13th year of our fishing column, and, hopefully, the coming holiday weekend will be topped off by chrome chinooks submarining beneath the smokin’ tides into Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon while charters and private vessels jam their holds with pole-slamming butts and ravenous salmon sporting serious ‘tudes.
The weather forecast is looking a bit damp with overcast skies scheduled to roll in on Friday, dragging along some weekend rain, but nothing that will require scuba gear to take a hike.
As you recall, the winter king tournament crowd proved that sport peeps were more than ready to rock the rods and grab some fresh air. So, don’t be surprised if the Spit sinks an inch or two when the horde charges south.
The Kenai Peninsula will be a special destination for those northern folks who are finally free to flee their sequestered COVID-19 cages and enjoy the sweet air of the K-Bay while sharing open smiles instead of somberly nodding at the sterile visages of passing masks.
Of course, their new found liberties should not include ignoring local mask and distancing requirements. There is no excuse for acting like a demented fruit bat juiced up on a half case of Boone’s Farm just because a business limits access without a mask.
It’s time to play, not to pout.
So, let’s start this off with some cool news.
Tom, the self-proclaimed Mayor of The Hole, is back and has reported that the kings are already nosing around within the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon.
Not big time yet, but a few have been taken with mackerel chunks and small, plug cut, herring floating beneath bobbers. Blue bell Vibrax spinners have also nailed a couple.
Those with flexible middle digits will be less than delighted to know that the seals are back in the lagoon, plus they may want to save some sign flinging practice for the bait stealing dollies cruising the pond.
Fishing Fines avoidance reminder: Don’t forget to review the following Emergency Orders and Advisory Announcements before launching your fishing trip.
Emergency Order 2-KS-7-10-21 reduced the king salmon bag and possession limits in the Ninilchik River to one hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater in length through 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 14, 2021.
Emergency Order 2-KS-7-09-21 restricted fishing gear to only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the Anchor River and Deep Creek drainages through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, June 23, 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. Thursday, 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.
So, now, with all of that said, it’s time now for the 2021 fishing report for May 25.
The Anchor River, Deep Creek and the Ninilchik River will open to sport fishing on Saturday, May 29 through Monday, May 31. The kings have started to return to these streams in low numbers but should continue to improve over the next week.
In the Anchor River and Deep Creek, the water conditions are high and muddy, which will limit the effectiveness of gear, so expect slow fishing. Try size 5 spinners or small plugs to get a king’s attention unless it can’t even see its nose.
As of May 24, 17 chinooks have wandered through the weir in the Anchor River.
In the Ninilchik River, water conditions are high but fishable. Try lobbing salmon roe clusters suspended close to the bottom for the hatchery kings.
Halibut fishing continues to gain steam as more flats move into Cook Inlet from overwintering waters.
The tidal exchanges are going to rock this week, which will limit the amount of time for trying to stay on anchor without losing your cool. Trying drifting when the tide is moving too much to keep your bait on the bottom. If still no luck, skiing behind the boat might be a fun option.
Check out anchoring in shallow water around Anchor Point, too. The action may be a bit slower using this technique, but it has been known to churn out some lunkers.
You already probably know this, but for the clueless, herring on a circle hook is the most popular bait. Octopus, salmon heads and jigs will also get them licking their chops.
Trolling for chinooks improved in Kachemak Bay last week with the arrival of those rowdy and randy spawner herring. Expect fair fishing over the next week.
In the nearshore waters of Upper Cook Inlet, expect poor to fair fishing.
Most successful anglers use downriggers and fish with troll sized herring or spoons behind flashers. Most unsuccessful anglers don’t.
Other Saltwater Fishing
If you don’t have access to a boat or the weather is in a snit, fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be an enjoyable way to wet a line. Species lurking off the beach include walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Dolly Varden, a variety of flatfish and even a wandering salmon or two. There are also things that resemble leftover facemasks from Halloween. Just cut the line.
Until next week …
Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if he isn’t still busy trying to unravel his tackle box.