Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Nick offers tips for catching those cohos

I’m still receiving complaints that the smug silvers are continuing to drive some of you nuts at the Fishing Hole. Remember they are fish and cannot be arrested for disturbing your peace.

First, assess your technique and timing. Don’t forget that they despise sunlight and are spooked by shadows and sudden movements.

I have preached for years that you’ll have better luck around the initial yawn of dawn or during the bedding down of the sun’s retiring light. Also, cool overcast skies will increase your chances of getting hits throughout the day even when the tide has withdrawn and the lagoon is at rest.

The fish left behind by the ebb can sense the incoming tide and will become antsy and more likely to attack an hour or two before the full flood. Plus, as the fresh sea rolls in, so do the rookies and they’ll be more than willing to get their “hit-on” if dealt the right tackle cards.

Usually the best time to fire a line is when the sea is making its entry or exit through the pond’s passage to the outer bay.

If you prefer to flip roe, don’t sail something that will generate a mini tsunami. A rule of thumb is just that. A thumb sized dab will do ya. Make it easy for them.

Don’t use a bobber that could serve as a navigational buoy either. A miniature, torpedo-shaped foam float offers little resistance when a fish mouths your bait; thus, they are less likely to sense resistance and reject it.

Warning to the clueless: Don’t get excited and take a rip like you’re collecting fish lips when the bobber deep dives. Let the fish run (a five second count will suffice) and then pop it. You’ll have a much better shot at a solid hook-up. If you hurl herring, use the smaller ones, preferably plug-cut, that the coho can get their chops around. These aren’t kings. I’ve spotted some stuff being launched out there that could choke a seal. Come to think of it … never mind.

Suggestion: When you see the schools cruising along the bank, cast just ahead of the pack and then, as they pass by, slightly twitch your line. This will make your herring flash and/or draw attention to your eggs. Hint: Float the bait 12 to 18 inches below the bobber. More later.

Now it’s time to take a look at the fishing report for the Week of August 4 – August 10.

Freshwater Fishing

Dolly Varden

Dolly fishing on the lower Kenai Peninsula roadside streams including the Anchor River has been fair. The upstream sections of these streams opened to sport fishing on Aug. 1. The stream levels are dropping now from earlier rains, which could improve the fishing. Expect success to fluctuate with stream levels. Beads should work best, but it is worth trying different tackle including small spinners and spoons, and flies.

Salmon

Coho fishing has been poor but, hopefully, will have improved by now with the arrival of the larger tides and/or increases in stream levels. Try fishing a small piece of cured eggs under a bobber near the mouth of the Anchor River or Deep Creek. Spinners can work well too. Note: More pinks are showing up in the Anchor. Well, isn’t that backflip worthy? Silvers? Not as of this writing.

Pink and chum salmon have started showing up in the small streams on the south side of Kachemak Bay. Humpy Creek and the Seldovia River offer the best fishing. Please, no stampedes or high-speed hydro races to grab a spot before the humpies turn into paste. Did you know that their scientific name is Oncorhynchus gorbuscha? An outrageous waste of vowels and consonants, but they think it’s cool and I don’t know why.

China Poot Personal Use dipnetting has continued to serve up the sockeye with more determined dippers hitting their limits recently. The reds should continue to arrive until the season closes after Aug. 7.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

Halibut fishing has been cookin’ on the briny in various offshore locations, and there were some outstanding flats hauled aboard by both the charters and private boats. I spoke with a ‘but chaser who was unloading two of them from his skiff. One tipped 60 pounds, the other 45 pounds. He nailed them 90 feet down in Mud Bay about a 15-minute run from the harbor’s entrance.

Salmon

Trolling for silver salmon remains slow in Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet.

The Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon continues to suffer from a bout of fishing-luck-flu featuring a malaise condition that can fluctuate between poor and fair.

Action can heat up around the channel when the tide is running. If you are casting into the running water, use enough weight to sink your bait with or without a float. Also, hit the exterior of the lagoon during the outgoing tide. Eggs or herring under a bobber usually works best off the outer shore. By the way, if things suddenly get hot out there, don’t go bragging that you caught your limit until you can tell the difference between a wayward pink and a silver. Why? Because the gill enabled, autonomic nervous systems with malfunctioning autopilots are sneaking in with the coho.

Trolling for silvers with small spoons on either side of the Homer Spit can produce potential fillets as the return builds in the lagoon and other Kachemak Bay locations.

King trolling has been pretty spotty, but dogged anglers are still finding chinook in most locations around Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet, inclusive of south of Bluff Point and Point Pogibshi.

Pinks continue to mangle good bait at outer bay locations. Can the lovable spiny dogfish be far behind?

Northern Area fishing report as of July, 30, 2020.

Freshwater Fishing

Kenai River king salmon sport fishing closed at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 24-. (See Emergency Order 2-KS-1-41-20.) This includes catch-and-release fishing for king salmon. All kings caught while fishing for other species must not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Lower Kenai River sockeye salmon fishing has been fair to good and should improve as late-run fish continue to enter the river. Please visit the 2020 Southcentral Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet for maps denoting riverbank closures and public access locations on the lower Kenai River.

Sockeye fishing on upper Kenai River, Russian River, and Russian River Sanctuary is fair to good and should continue to improve.

Kasilof River sockeye salmon sport fishing is good. Bag and possession limits for sockeye salmon on the Kasilof have been liberalized. Please refer to Emergency Order 2-RS-1-36-20 for more information.

Rainbow trout fishing on the Middle and Upper Kenai River is good.

Pink salmon fishing at Resurrection Creek in Hope is good to excellent.

Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden sport fishing on clearwater tributaries of the Kenai River have been improving as salmon begin to spawn.

Personal Use Fishing

The Kasilof River dipnet fishery opened June 25 and fishing has been reported as good. A sport fishing license and Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permit is required. No retention of king salmon is allowed. Please see page 14 of the 2020 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet. The personal use area for boat and shore fisherman has been expanded. Please refer to Emergency Order 2-RS-1-27-20. Anglers are reminded personal use fishing on the Kasilof River closes at 11:59 p.m., Friday, August 7.

Emergency Orders: Southern Area

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.

Emergency Orders: Northern Area

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-43-20 prohibits the use of bait and limits sport fishing gear to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure while sport fishing in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake beginning 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1 through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15.

Emergency Order 2-RS-1-36-20 increases the bag and possession limit for sockeye salmon, 16 inches or longer, from three to six fish per day and twelve in possession in all portions of the Kasilof River open to salmon fishing. No more than two salmon per day and two in possession may be coho salmon. This regulation change is effective through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 31.

Emergency Order 2-RS-1-27-20 expands the personal use salmon dipnet fishing area on the Kasilof River effective through 11:59 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7. Salmon may be harvested from the shore from Alaska Department of Fish and Game markers located on Cook Inlet beaches outside the terminus of the river upstream to the Sterling Highway Bridge. Salmon may be harvested from a boat from ADF&G markers located on Cook Inlet beaches outside the terminus of the river upstream to ADF&G markers placed at approximately river mile 3.

Emergency Order 2-NP-1-02-20 prohibits the retention of any species of fish in East Mackey, West Mackey, Sevena, Union, and Derks lakes for the 2020 season.

Emergency Order 2-DV-1-01-20 prohibits the retention of Arctic char/Dolly Varden in Stormy Lake for the 2020 season.

Until next week …

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t defending himself from the “Save the Humpies-Eat Pressed Kale Filets” crowd.

Reece Tousignant, 15, of Green Bay, Wisconsin, poses with a pink salmon he caught on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon in Homer, Alsaka. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Reece Tousignant, 15, of Green Bay, Wisconsin, poses with a pink salmon he caught on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon in Homer, Alsaka. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

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