Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Local fishing ‘like a hot streak in Vegas’

Sport fishing marred by those who don’t grasp the concept of ‘sport’

Summer is now but a few shadowy nights away as the pristine fishing waters of the lower Kenai Peninsula continue to heat up like a hot streak in Vegas with dusk ‘til dawn payoffs of glittering silver and stacks of flat greenbacks.

Last week the smokin’ charters were nailing both flashy kings and moss colored ‘buts while the open rivers were valiantly trying to struggle out of the “fair” category.

At the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon, landings were on the verge of “good” most of the week.

The “hot bite” times were somewhat erratic, but steady with new chromes arriving like hyper excited tourists on each new tide.We do have one slight bummer to report, and that is some chinooks are starting to sport an age blush and may be slower to strike because of their misaligned dentures issues.

Although snagging is not open, a casual observer can easily detect a plethora (big bunch) of tight liners, treble hook wrenchers and non-recorders scattered amongst the true sports personages who play by the rules.

Note: A definition of plethora was provided as a courtesy to the scofflaws who obviously don’t possess the intellect nor skills to bring home a fish unless they stop by the seafood section at Safeway.

Hopefully, law enforcement officials will be able to spend some serious time in the area, especially over the weekends, to make media stars out of the rule snubbers.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of June 15.

Freshwater Fishing

The Ninilchik River will open to sport fishing on Wednesday, June 16, and will remain open through Oct. 31. Fishing was fair for hatchery chinook last weekend, and the fresh fish should keep jetting up stream as the coming days roll on. The bag and possession limits were increased for the hatchery kings from one to two fish, and there is no annual limit. Please review emergency order 2-KS-7-18- 21 below for more info.

The drifting eggs under a bobber technique remains the top killer, but plug cut herring, spinners, plugs and flies will do the trick if you use the appropriate techniques. Try stirring up some action in the harbor by ambushing newly arriving fish or chase them down in the early morning hours when the salmon are antsy and moving upstream.

Saltwater Fishing


Halibut fishing is getting spicier, with larger fish slapping the decks and cleaning tables. Things look really decent in next week’s marine weather forecast for Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet, which should allow flat hunters to scoot out further into offshore locations.

Don’t forget your bait herring or popular backups such as salmon heads, octopus, various jig presentations and jellied malodorous lure goos that would gag a skunk.

King Salmon

Trolling for blackmouths remained fair to good in Kachemak Bay last week, with the takedowns spread throughout the bay. Last week’s consistent bite award goes to the Point Pogibshi area.

Most anglers use downriggers and fish with troll-sized herring or spoons behind flashers. Use your fish finder to set your downrigger to where fish are popping up. Kings usually like to hang out a bit deeper than other salmon. Sixty feet or more is not uncommon. Try trolling a bit slower for the chinook — 1.5 to 2 miles per hour works pretty well.

As commented on earlier, the king’s return in the Spit’s fishing lagoon has been good to rockin’ at times. Otherwise, sporadic to fair covers the rest of it.

Hit them just at first glimmer of cockcrow with size 4 or 5 spinners (blue/ silver blade works well), or plug cut herring will get it done along with oily cuts of mackerel.

The Seldovia slough and lagoon are still producing kings. Drift salmon roe clusters or run plugs from the bridge. Firing spinners from shore should also produce strikes in the lagoon.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Don’t have a boat? The water is so rough you can see Kodiak from the apex of the waves? Why not give the beach end of the Homer Spit a shot? There are walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Dolly Varden, various kinds of flatfish, wandering salmon and things that would scare the bejesus out of a ravenous eagle if it found them stranded on a beach.

Emergency Orders

Please review the Emergency Orders and Advisory Announcements below in their entirety before heading out on your next fishing trip.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-18-21 increases the hatchery king salmon bag and possession limits from one fish to two fish 20” or greater in length and removes the annual limit effective through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-17-21 closes sport fishing for king salmon within one mile of shore in the saltwaters of Cook Inlet north of the latitude of Bluff Point (59° 40.00’ N. lat.). This regulatory change is effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 5 through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-16-21 closes the Anchor River and Deep Creek to all sport fishing effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 5 through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, July 15, 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. Wednesday, 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.

Until next week…

Nick can be reached at

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