Reeling ‘em in: Nick answers the big question: What’s so addicting about fishing?

Now that the tourists are in full migration south and the cranes are giving last minute flight training to their offspring, it’s time to close down the presses here at Reeling ’Em In for another season.

I can’t recall exactly how many times throughout the summer that I’ve been asked what’s so addicting about fishing?

Questioners couldn’t understand why piscatorians always seem to be rumbling off just before dawn with their pockets stuffed with bizarre lures and/or baits that would make a wolf eel hurl.

They were fascinated by the fact that fin hunters will endure rain, wind, sleet and conditions that would make Indiana Jones curl up and weep.

Since most of the inquiries were spawned from the minds of those who consider us deranged and/or the great unwashed, I didn’t feel the need to respond with a credible answer other than a simple gesture I usually reserve for Neanderthals displaying the driving skills of an unhinged howler monkey.

A few years ago, I did a little research and found the following quotes from other fanatics and observers filed amongst my top-secret fishing journals. Just for the fun of it, I’ll share them again with you.

Hopefully, they’ll provide some insight into our compulsion and encourage you to join the action.

Quotes:

“Since 3/4 of the earth’s surface is water and 1/4 land, it’s perfectly clear the good Lord intended that man spend three times as much time fishing as he does plowing.” – Unknown

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” – Doug Larson

“No man has ever caught a fish bigger than the one that got away.” – Remy Walsh

“Most fishermen swiftly learn that it’s a pretty good rule never to show a favorite spot to any fisherman you wouldn’t trust with your wife.” – John Voelker

“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” – Steven Wright

“Fly fishermen are born honest, but they get over it.” – Ed Zernuni

“If they’d been biting I would have caught my limit.” – My buddy, Wild Willie

“My worst fear is when I die my wife will sell my fishing and hunting stuff for what I told her I paid for it.” – Unknown

“Men and fish are alike. They both get into trouble when they open their mouths.” – Unknown

How can anyone diss a laidback crew with that kind of sense of humor?

As for me, I still not sure why I love the sport. Maybe it’s because that it’s not only enjoyable but humbling. As John Steinbeck once said, “It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.”

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of Sept. 3 to 9.

Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon Emergency Order

Per Emergency Order No. 2-SS-7-53-18 the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and adjacent waters except for the Homer Boat Harbor remains open to snagging.

Regulation Reminders

The 2018/2019 Tanner crab fishery is set to open Oct. 1. More information will be available during the news release pertaining to this fishery after the completion of a trawl survey, which is being conducted this week.

The Kachemak Bay Coho Salmon Gillnet Fishery is closed.

The Anchor River, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, and Stariski Creek remains open to fishing for Dolly Varden and steelhead/rainbow trout upstream of the two-mile markers.

Make sure you know the differences between coho and steelhead trout. Steelhead and rainbow trout have black spots all over both lobes of the tail, while coho have black spots only on the upper lobe of the tail. Being clueless could cost you a bundle.

Steelhead/rainbow trout may never be removed from the water and must be immediately released. You may not fish for salmon upstream of the two-mile markers.

The lower portions of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Stariski Creek are open to sport fishing except for kings.

The bag and possession limit for other salmon is three per day and three in possession; however, only two per day and two in possession may be silvers.

Heads up. Only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure may be used on the Anchor River, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, and Stariski Creek through Oct. 31.

In Cook Inlet saltwater, effective Sept. 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019, the bag and possession limit is two king salmon of any size and there is no recording requirement.

Lingcod season is open until Dec. 31. The bag and possession limit is two fish and the minimum legal size is 35 inches with the head attached or 28 inches from tip of tail to front of the dorsal fin with the head removed. Lingcod which are gaffed must be retained. A gaff may not be used to puncture any fish intended or required to be released.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

Halibut fishing efforts have chilled out from peak season highs. The average halibut returning to the harbor has been 15 to 25 pounds. Not to worry, many of boats are still returning with limits and bigger ‘buts on board.

Halibut hunting is still possible throughout the fall and into the winter, but few anglers target them as larger halibut have begun their migration offshore.

King Salmon

Feeder kings are lurking in Kachemak Bay all year. There are copious spots to try trolling for them throughout the winter. Try the head of Kachemak Bay to Bluff Point and Point Pogibshi, including areas near Yukon and Cohen islands and near the tip of the Homer Spit. Over the last week, blackmouths were taken north of Bluff Point and off the tip of the Homer Spit.

To find feeder kings, give a shot at fishing a variety of depths up to 100 feet near rocky points and kelp beds. Look for bait fish getting scarfed up by the seabirds.

Coho Salmon

The Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is open to snagging but the silver run has slowed to groggy sloth speed.

In the past week there have been reports of limited success trolling for coho from the tip of the Homer Spit, Bluff Point, Silver Ridge, and Bear Cove. Silvers will take a whack at pretty much anything a king will. Try the thin blade spoons or herring in a head clip behind a flasher.

Lingcod

Fall and winter storms tend to limit lingcod fishing, though it is possible until the season closes at the end of the year on Dec. 31. Check out areas near Chugach or Elizabeth islands.

Rockfish

The best locations for targeting black, dark, and dusky rockfish in Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet are along Bluff Point and near Point Pogibshi. The best fishing tends to be outside of Cook Inlet around the Chugach Islands.

Shellfish

Razor Clam Emergency Order

Per Emergency Order No.2-RCL-7-01-18 and 2-RCL-07-02-18 all eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are closed to all clamming through Dec. 31.

The next clamming tides are Sept. 8-12.

Fresh Water Streams

While silver fishing is winding down, there are still some fresh coho entering area streams on the incoming tides. Silvers are the most active at the break of day and often respond to marabou jigs, corkie and yarn setups, or streamers.

Fall fishing success in the Homer area streams will fluctuate with changing water conditions associated with periods of rain, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Fishing for Dolly Varden above the two-mile markers has been fair to good. The Dollies are beginning to acquire their spawning coloration, and are dispersed throughout Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River. Fly fisherman are doing well with beads and streamers. Small spinners and spoons are effective with spinning gear.

Steelhead trout have entered the roadside streams with some hot reports coming from the Anchor River. Expect steelhead fishing to peak in mid-September and continue through October. Steelhead are often targeted with a bead pegged above a hook, although jig and bobber and swinging flies are other popular and effective ways to entice a bite. Check out local tackle shops for further suggestions.

Well, that’s it for this year folks.

I want to send out heavy duty kudos to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices in Homer and Anchorage, especially Carol (Homer) and Kali (Anchorage) for their outstanding support this season. It is deeply gratifying to work with such professionals.

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

Finally, I can’t close out this year without a special shout out to the self-professed mayor of the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and all things fishy, Tom.

His loquacious insights, reports and historical perspectives, along with his colossal bucket of b.s. when it comes to critiquing my smooth techniques and unmitigated expertise at fishing with an inverted, plug-cut herring, has made this column even more cool to write. His sense of humor and input has been invaluable. Thanks Tom.

Until next year.

Nick can still be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com where the presses continue to roll at an undisclosed location where he publishes his Unhinged Alaska column.

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