Reeling ‘Em In: Labor Day Weekend had a bit of a temper this year

Labor Day weekend was a bit temperamental this year.

Erratic winds and snits of tedious downpours pounded the area and then teased with promising massages of sunshine that suddenly terminated in flesh-wrinkling rain that waterlogged the soul.

After the weekend, most of the campgrounds looked as though the occupants discovered there was a free pizza week coming up in downtown Spenard and smoked north so they could carb-up before converting their homes back into miniature NFL stadiums and prepare for a winter of semi hibernation.

Bummer note: Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when we put this column on hiatus for around eight months.

But, before we roll out our last fishing report for the season, I’d like to thank some special people for their tales, tips and support this summer.

First, slammin’ hot kudos to the AK F&G offices in Homer and Anchorage, especially Mike and his superb local team of professionals along with Katelyn of the Anchorage Information Office for their corroboration this season. It is deeply gratifying to work with such specialists in their fields.

Also, there is no way I could possibly close out this season without firing off a plethora of deep appreciation flares for the “unpretentious” raconteur and widely acclaimed self-appointed mayor of the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and all things pescatarian, Tom, the king slayer who can lay down a line of b.s. deeper than the Mariana Trench of the Pacific Ocean.

His garrulous insights, reports, and historical fish management perspectives along with an erudite talent for issuing verbal smackdowns to miscreants with rods has made this column fun to write. Thanks Tom.

I also want to express my gratitude to those of you who took the time to email questions, tips, and travel tales. You reached another input summit again this year.

And finally, a dramatic tip of my spinning gear to Toronto Ted, Dusty, Shakey Jake, Mikey, Bail-man Grant, Jerry T, and Tat Lady Bev who shared some slam dunk funny comments about this column along with hysterical accounts of their misadventures while visiting the area. Most unprintable.

Time now to take a look at the Fall Report for the season.

Freshwater Fishing


Coho fishing in the lower Kenai Peninsula streams is still meager to less meager, at times, and will be wrapping up around mid-September. Water conditions have been high and muddy which really sucked wind when it came to getting a fair shot at them. You may target them in the lower 2 miles of the streams with unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures. Size 3 or 4 spinners or heavily weighted flies are the most effective gear if the fish can spot them.


Expect the steelhead run to reach its peak in late September. Good fishing will vary with water levels which can be monitored with the Anchor River hydrograph.

A cool-looking bead pegged under a bobber is a great way to get a steelhead riled up enough to strike. Beads are typically fished with a fly rod. Add more split shot to sink the bead if the current is too fast to let the bead plink along the bottom and be sure to adjust the depth of your bobber or strike indicator as needed. If the stream is carrying small trees, resembles dark roast coffee, and is roaring like Niagara Falls, go get breakfast.

Fishing with a marabou jig and bobber is a prodigious way to get started targeting steelhead. Plugs and swinging flies may also work well. Pink and purple are typical colors of tackle used to fish for steely beasts.

Dolly Varden

Dollies are beginning to adopt their colorful fall spawning patterns. There are fewer of them in the lower Kenai Peninsula streams than in recent years, but anglers may still run into them while fishing for steelhead. Dollies have a thing for a well-presented (i.e. dead-drifted) bead, and will hit small spinners, spoons, and flies also.

Saltwater Fishing


Halibut fishing will continue to be passable over the fall months at locations in Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet. Always keep an eye on the tides and make sure to fish near slack if the tides are large rockin’ like a swift water river.

King Salmon

The fall months in Kachemak Bay typically offer some of the best king trolling of the year. The feeder kings tend to move around the bay, but bait can concentrate them in larger schools. Locations in the outer bay can have great fishing when the weather allows, including Fourth of July Creek, Silver Ridge, and Bluff Point. The inner bay has loads of great spots closer by including Bear Cove, Glacier Spit, the islands (Yukon Island area), and the green can near the Homer Spit. Herring pegged in a head clip fished behind a flasher is the classic setup, but spoons with and without flashers work just fine, along with a variety of other tackle like hoochies or plugs. Try trolling the same direction as the tide and experiment with setting your gear at various depths between 10 and 100 feet.

Tanner Crab

The Kachemak Bay Tanner crab sport fishery (visit the online store for permits when available) will be open from Oct.1 through Feb. 28, 2024. A pot or ring net may be used to target Tanner crab. The highest concentrations of Tanner crab tend to be found west of the Homer Spit in 300 and 500 feet of water. Pots need to be set in deep water to be successful. Use bait such as fish carcasses secured in the pots.

Emergency Orders

Emergency Order 2-SS-7-57-23 open snagging in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon waters (excluding the Homer Harbor) for the remainder of the season.

Emergency Order 2-RF-7-20-23 reduces the rockfish bag and possession limits in Cook Inlet to three per day and six in possession of which only one per day, two in possession can be nonpelagic.

OK, it’s time to shut the doors at the headquarters of Reeling ‘Em In for another season, but remember, there’s still some fine fishing left out there.

Good luck to the stalkers of those steelhead silver torpedoes with gladiator attitudes, the hulking winter kings, and land locked lunkers lurking beneath the icy mantels of our frozen lakes. Good luck out there and be safe.

‘Til next year, Nick.

Nick can be reached at if you have any tips, tales or rumors you think anyone would believe if it showed up in the column.