Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Not even dinosaur-killing virus can stop Nick from his report

This column may be a bit shorter than usual because I’m sitting here at the computer with the Grim Reaper drooling over my right shoulder and if I sense even the slightest movement in one of his gnarly digits, I’m so out of here that my ‘Tufs won’t touch terra-firma ‘til the summit of Augustine Volcano.

Quick explanation: My wife recently returned from a short vacation in Ohio and during the trip back, some diseased troglodyte managed to pass a virus to her that was of the same virulent ilk that undoubtedly wiped the dinosaurs off the earth. Three days after her arrival, my temperature shot up to a point where spoons bent when I opened my mouth to swallow cough medicine. As of today, my only means of communication is the written word unless I run across someone who speaks fluent duck.

Needless to say, my scouting expeditions have been limited and I haven’t been able to fish my old haunts for fear decimating surrounding wildlife and sending my fishing buds crawling toward the nearest emergency rooms but, thanks to the Alaska Fish and Game, we were still able to garner some very useful information.

So, now it’s time to take a look at fishing report for the week of June 25 – July 1.

Freshwater Fishing

The Ninilchik River is still open to sport fishing for hatchery king salmon. Both hatchery and wild fish are present in worthy numbers; however, fishing gear and bag and possession limits are in effect through July 15. Make sure to check for the absence of the adipose fin before removing any fish from the water. The bag and possession limit is one hatchery blackmouth 20 inches or greater in length from the Ninilchik River. Try fishing with a variety of gear such as spinners, spoons and flies to flush out a serious strike.

Saltwater Fishing


The king run at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is starting to put on the brakes. Eggs, herring and mackerel are still getting their attention. Tossing and retrieving bright spinners just below the surface will rile them up too. Early morning hours are producing more fish along with the tide change-out waters.

Chinook trolling improved over the last week but was still slow. Most fish have been caught in the Bluff Point area. Trolling in 30-90 feet of water remains the best way to track those beasts down in the K-Bay.

Kachemak Bay opened to snagging on June 24; however, the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon Area is closed to snagging. Anglers will be targeting kings in the Halibut Cove Lagoon and sockeye in China Poot Bay and Tutka Lagoon.


Halibut fishing has been consistent in offshore locations in Cook Inlet and outer Kachemak Bay. Some anglers are still catching meaty slabs in the shallow waters north of the Bluff Point area.

Oh great! Our little friends are back.

Reports of spiny dogfish bycatch have increased. Dogfish are very long lived (up to 80 years), and do not reach maturity until about 30 years old. Remember to use care when releasing these unique sharks.

Good news. The smaller tidal exchanges this week should provide more fishing time and less ponderous weights to hold the bottom with while on the hook.

A chunk of herring on a circle hook is the standard approach, but try using lead head jigs with grub tails tipped with bait only a halibut could stomach.


China Poot personal use dipnet fishery opens July 1 for Alaska residents. No permit is required, but a resident sport fishing license is. Remember to remove both tips of the tail fin before you leave the waters open to personal use fishing. Good luck.

Ugly fish season has arrived.

Lingcod hunting opens July 1. Most successful anglers target them on the outer North Gulf Coast along rock pinnacles. Try white body jigs with white grub tails tipped with a piece of bait. They are even less choosy than the flats but just as greedy.

Emergency Orders

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

Emergency Order 2-RCL-7-01-19 and 2-RCL-7-02-19 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 for 2019.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-11-19 limited the fishing season on the Anchor River and it is currently closed through July 15, 2019.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-12-19 restricted fishing gear to only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River through July 15, 2019.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-13-19 reduced the chinook bag and possession limits in the Ninilchik River to one hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater in length through July 15, 2019

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-14-19 combined the annual limit for king salmon to two king salmon 20 inches or greater in length from the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik, and all marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point through July 15, 2019.

For additional information, please contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Homer office at 907-235-8191.

Next week, if I cool down enough, I may share some email expressing disdain for our famous Fish Lagoon and those anglers who deign to frequent it. They seem think that those having fun legally fishing out there are less than true sportsman.

I showed Turk some of those missives and he felt sorry for senders. He said it was going take some serious surgery to extricate their heads from where they’re lodged, but he’d be willing to give a shot with a boat chain and his four-wheeler. Stay tuned.

Nick can be reached at

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