Reeling ‘Em In: One man’s trash fish, another’s tasty treasure

The Spit was rockin’ over the Fourth of July weekend.

Campground spaces were stacked with mini campers resembling cartoon speech balloons to huge motor homes that could have supported a helicopter landing pad.

The boat harbor floated everything from skiffs featuring outboards that could barely whip up milkshakes to yachts that, if 2 feet longer, would have been certified as cruise ships.

The boat launch was its normal display of attempts to float vessels at insane angles accompanied by bellows of fiery back up guidance that sent nearby otters fleeing the harbor and several observers to early church services.

Scouting visits to the various cleaning tables were made in the afternoon because, if you really want to know what’s hot and what’s lame, that’s when you’ll get great insights into what is hitting on what, and where. That is, course, if you run across a fisherman who is willing to tell you a modicum of truth.

Take Sunday:

I was staring at some nice sized halibut a buzzed guy was butchering into jig saw puzzle pieces when a grizzled Homerite flopped down a couple of ‘butts about 25 to 30 pounds along with six, hefty, Weight Watcher eligible, Pacific Gray cod.

The 80 proof dude took a glance at the old boy’s catch and snorted. “Nice halibut, but what’s with the trash fish? Gonna bait some traps for “The Deadliest Catch?”

“Trash, what? Ya know…, I’d rather have a conversation with spilled table salt than answer a @&&#*^+ question like that.”

I’ve known Don for a dump truck full of years and he shot the guy a look that should have turned the man’s sideburns a lighter shade of gray.

If the juicehead hadn’t come across like a clueless dipstick, D. would have filleted one of the beasts and given it to him along with his “secret” recipe for preparing it.

Gray cod has a nice white flesh with a slightly sweet taste and is moister than halibut. It costs mega bucks less at the store and keeps much better in the home freezer, especially when compared to salmon.

Yes, small worms can sometimes be found in their flesh. But these annoying nematodes are also present in other fish, including halibut.

If found, the worms in both species are easily removed either at the time they are filleted or just before cooking.


Most of the perceived problems with cod can be eliminated by bleeding and gutting the fish immediately upon landing and adding ice.

There is no bag or possession limit so you can fill your freezer with a fine cuisine that’s easy to nail and, along with a side of seasoned fries, are one of the finest fish-chips meals you can whip up at home.

Time now for the fishing report for the week of July 8.

Freshwater Fishing

Anchor River and Deep Creek remain open to sport fishing other than kings.

Note: Anchor River update: Sustainable Escapement Goal for Chinook in 2024: 3,200 – 6,400. Cumulative as of July 8, 2,631. Ouch!

Dolly Varden are easing into these streams and their numbers should build over the week to put a boot into the action.

For fly fisherman, smolt patterns, streamers and beads are the superlative options. Spinners and spoons are righteous alternatives if you are hunting with spinning rods.

This is the last week to fish the Ninilchik River for hatchery kings. There’s still some rookie fish making their way upstream. With these low water conditions, smaller (size 3 or 4) pink or chartreuse spinners will work just fine.

If you incidentally hook a wild king, get it to shore as quickly as possible and release it without removing it from the water.

China Poot personal use dipnet fishery has remained good for limits of sockeye. Water conditions are still high which makes spotting fish more difficult.

Saltwater Fishing

Kachemak Bay/Cook Inlet


Halibut fishing has been hot. Larger fish are coming from many locations including Cook Inlet and the outer coast near the Chugach Islands. Flat Island has been consistent with nice numbers of the smaller flats.

Shouldn’t have to council you on this again but, fishing around slack tide is the classic time to target halibut. Why? Because you can hold the bottom without the use of a cargo ship anchor.


Lingcod fishing has been maudlin to good fishing and should improve next week when the seas are favorable to make it out to the outer coast to fish along the seaboard from the Chugach Islands to Gore Point.

King Salmon

King fishing south of Bluff Point was pretty good for trollers over the weekend. Expect a small number of kings to remain scattered throughout Kachemak Bay.

Try to hold back your excitement but, pinks have started to return to Kachemak Bay at Point Pogishi.

To avoid the obnoxious fin bearers when trolling for kings, try setting your gear closer to the bottom. Small troll herring or spoons behind a flasher is a great setup, but hootchies and tube flies will also produce strikes.

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye fishing in China Poot and Tutka Bay Lagoon was good over the last few days and should remain so over the coming week.

Surf Fishing

Tenacious surf fishing enthusiasts were scoring on several of the Cook Inlet beaches last weekend, including the Deep Creek area and the Homer Spit.

Line launchers are getting into a variety of groundfish including halibut, sculpins, skates, sharks, flounders, and cod — plus a few things they wish they hadn’t.

Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon

It’s probably not worth the effort to fire lures into the hole this week. Any kings left are starting to look sunburned and are in danger of losing their steering fins. Not all is lost. You can still bag some terrific food right across the road.

Don’t dismay, silvers should start to showing up in modest numbers in about a week or so. We hope.

Local Lakes

The Homer Reservoir (located on Skyline Drive) is a great place to take kids and catch a Dolly Varden. The fish are small, but can be voracious. Dollies are often found cruising along the shore by the road, or the south shore. Try a variety of very small spinners and spoons. Nymphs and dry flies, such as mosquitoes, can work great when the wind is calm.

Emergency Orders

Please review the emergency orders and advisory announcements below in their entirety before heading out on your next fishing trip.

Changes to Gear in the Ninilchik River

Sport Fishing for King Salmon Closed in Upper Cook Inlet Salt Waters

King Salmon Bag Limit Reduced from 2 to 1 in Lower Cook Inlet Salt Waters

Cook Inlet Sport Fishing Regulation Changes

East Cook Inlet Razor Clam Fisheries Remain Closed for 2024

For additional information, please contact the Homer Office at 907-235-8191.

Until next week…

Nick can be reached at if you have any tips, tales or outrageous claims of fishing prowess powered by a 12-pack. Right Charlie T.?