Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Nick offers tips on catching those Fishin’ Hole kings

Last Sunday, around o-dark-thirty, the action heated up at the Spit’s fishing lagoon, according to its mayor, Tom, who has been keeping vampire hours out there.

He reported that there were lighted bobbers throughout the pond and scores of ravenous jacks were joining the party.

On the dark side, many of the blackmouths are starting to don a maroon shade but their meat is still good. On the bright side, so are the new arrivals, although they are few and far between.

Later, we’ll share some suggested techniques you could or should employ if your techniques are as useless as a politician’s speech while stalking The Hole’s kings.

First, let’s take a look at the expanded fishing report for the week of June 23 – June 29.

Even if you think you know it all, I would suggest you review the following Emergency Orders and Advisory Announcements before heading out on your next fishing trip.

If you’d knock off the selfies for a moment and peruse these notifications, you might avoid fines so steep you’ll barely have enough bread for a used rotary phone leaving you no other alternative but to send your cheesy crayoned self-portraits via USPS.

Emergency Orders

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-21-20 restricted gear in the Ninilchik River to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure through Wednesday, July 15, 2020 and removed the annual limit for hatchery kings 20 inches or greater through Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-16-20 closed king fishing within 1 mile of shore north of Bluff Point through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-15-20 closed the Anchor River and Deep Creek drainages to all sport fishing through 11:59 p.m. July 15, 2020.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-05-20 reduced the king annual limit north of Bluff Point from five to two fish through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

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 Order 2-KS-1-23-20, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 1, prohibits the use of bait and multiple hooks while sport fishing in the Kasilof River downstream of the Sterling Highway Bridge.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-22-20, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 1, prohibits the use of bait and the retention of kings that are 34 inches and longer in length while sport fishing in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek. Sport fishing for kings of all sizes remains closed in the Kenai River from Slikok Creek to Skilak Lake through July 31.

Emergency Order 2-RS-1-19-20 opened the Russian River Sanctuary Area to sport fishing for sockeye beginning June 11.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-18-20 prohibits the retention of any sized naturally-produced king and limits sport fishing gear to one, unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure while sport fishing in the Kasilof River effective through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, June 30. Naturally-produced salmon have an adipose fin and may not be removed from the water and must be release immediately.

Emergency Order 2-KS-1-17-20 closed sport fishing for king salmon of all sizes in the Kenai River from the mouth upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, June 30. Fishing for king salmon will remain closed from 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 1 through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 31, in waters of the Kenai River drainage from an ADF&G regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek, upstream to the outlet of Skilak Lake. This closure prohibits all sport fishing for king salmon, including catch-and-release fishing. King salmon may not be retained or possessed; king salmon accidentally caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

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.

Freshwater Fishing

King Salmon

The Ninilchik River is open for hatchery kings only. It has continued to fish well. Keep an eye on the fish counts online and try fishing after high tides when fish push in from the salt. There is no annual limit on hatchery kings greater than 20 inches harvested from the Ninilchik. Try single-hook spinners, plugs, or jigs.

Close by? The Homer Reservoir has Dolly Varden. Small spinners from shore work well there because they are bored and not too bright.

In the Northern Region, the flowing waters of the Kenai River mainstem upstream of the Lower Killey River marker and all of the tributary streams opened to fishing on Thursday, June 11. Fishing for rainbow trout in these waters is primo.

Lower Kenai River sockeye fishing has been fair for patient anglers. Try fishing at Centennial Park, Rotary Park, Donald E. Gilman River Center, Soldotna Visitors Center, or Soldotna Creek Park.

The Upper Kenai River, Russian River, and Russian River Sanctuary Area opened to fishing for sockeye on Thursday, June 11. Fishing is good and should continue to improve over the next week.

Kasilof king fishing is considered fair to good. Try fishing for the kings from shore at the Crooked Creek State Recreation Site. Please refer to Emergency Order 2-KS-1-18-20.

Recently stocked lakes

Johnson and Sport lakes were stocked with rainbow trout on June 15. Johnson Lake was stocked with approximately 2,800 catchable rainbow trout and Sport Lake was stocked with approximately 3,300 catchable rainbow trout. These catchable rainbow trout are approximately 9.2 inches in length.

Lake fishing for rainbow trout, Arctic char, Arctic grayling, and land locked salmon is good. Try fishing with dry or wet flies such as an egg sucking leech, bead head nymph, or mosquito pattern; small spoons and spinners size #0 or #2, or small bait under a bobber.

Saltwater Fishing


Halibut fishing has been steady and decent at the mouth of Kachemak Bay near the line from Point Pogibshi to Anchor Point. Quite a few larger fish over 100 pounds were picked up past week.

First reports of respectable takedowns and landings in Mud Bay.

If the day winds are already featuring Dramamine gusts, spots near Hesketh and Yukon islands or Tutka Bay can produce some fresh fillets without chumming your lunch.

King Salmon

There is a plethora (gobs) of fish in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and line soakers are pasting them, if they time it right.

If you want to give the outside beach a shot as the tide rises, try a plug-cut small herring hanging upside down or a fillet of mackerel on a single #5 hook about 8 to 12 inches below your bobber.

Remember, salmon attack their prey from behind and below and it’s not that deep out there where they are running along the shoreline toward the entrance.

If you still can’t entice a strike, try adjusting your presentation to about 6 to 8 inches down from your float. Sometimes just a small change will reap a big change in your lying rights.

The metal flingers were still doing well with the blue bell/silver bladed # 5 Vibrax. Note: A spinning lure is just that. You cast it. Let it sink a bit and start your retrieve, adjusting your speed and rhythm, until to find the strike zone and repeat. You do not cast out, wait until the lure hits bottom, and then stand there in semi-comatose state until something runs into your line before you jerk. It not only makes you look like you’ve just been nailed in the keister by a killer hornet but the idiots-only technique is normally associated with those who couldn’t catch starving smolt in a kiddy pool without the use of seal bombs.

King trolling has continued to be pretty good around Kachemak Bay, particularly south of Bluff Point. The chinooks are also be being boated on the south side of Kachemak Bay.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Rumor has it that sockeye salmon may be showing up near Tutka Bay Lagoon and China Poot Creek.

The latest fishing report we have from the Northern Kenai was issued on June 18, 2020.

Until next week.

Nick can be reached at

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