Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: River salmon fishing opens Saturday

This weekend officially kicks off the Homer News fishing column, Reeling ’Em In, where our vast and dedicated staff of an old goat and his feet warmer mutts endeavor to deliver fishing fiends the latest and seriously awesome information on what’s hitting what and where.

Yes, it’s time, once again, to carefully approach your plethora of tackle boxes and shake ’em a bit to see if anything is dwelling within that might be the mutant spawn of some bait you overlooked last fall. If they shake back, it will give you an excellent excuse to buy new stuff while procuring an ammo upgrade for your 3-inch magnum riot gun to deal with your present dilemma.

We are also happy to announce that we are looking forward to providing inside info on hot spots and fishing tips from outstanding piscatorians such as Tom, the reigning Mayor of the Fishing Hole, my vet bro, Turk, and dubious tales of fishing excellence by ole Willie if intense research proves his methods were legal.

Last, but not anywhere least, you’ll get timely and vital information provided by our local Alaska Department of Fish and Game and upshots from discussions with fisherpersonages at the cleaning tables where tall tales are common but the fish speak for themselves.

We interrupt this column for the following reminder:

The Homer Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center’s 34th Annual Jackpot Halibut Derby runs from May 15 to Sept. 15.

Over 90 tags have been attached to halibut throughout Kachemak Bay worth $250, $500 and $1,000 along with two tags featuring mongo-money payoffs, one being a Homer Fish Processing tag worth $10,000 and the second, the Homer Chamber of Commerce tag worth $25,000.

Oh yeah, new this year — they will be putting 200 more tags in the water all through the summer, so you’ll have even more chances to score.

To enter the Derby anglers must purchase a $10 ticket prior to leaving the harbor.

Plus, get this, you don’t have to fish to win; there is a drawing for a “Just for the Halibut Prize” of $1,000 just for buying a ticket.

You don’t have to be good, just lucky, to win epic prizes. So, pony up a 10 spot and go for it during this year’s Annual Jackpot Halibut Derby.

You can find historical data and additional Derby info at

OK, it’s now time to look at the fishing report for the week of May 21 – May 27.

Freshwater Fishing

The Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik Rivers all open to sport fishing at 12:01 a.m. on May 25 through May 27. Expect slow fishing over the weekend if water levels are high and muddy as they are right now. Ninilchik River will likely have the best conditions for fishing success. Spinners, spoons, flies and jigs are likely to be the most effective gear. Remember Anchor and Ninilchik rivers have fishing restrictions in effect right now. Please see the corresponding emergency order later in the report.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut fishing continues to improve with the most consistent fishing in offshore locations 20-30 miles west of the Homer Harbor.

When exploring new locations for halibut, try drifting to locate concentrations of fish before anchoring.

Herring on a circle hook is the most popular bait; however, octopus, salmon heads, and jigs also work well.

King Salmon

Anglers have been successful finding chinook in the nearshore waters of the Whiskey Gulch and Happy Valley areas. Trolling with downriggers is most effective in this area but using banana weights or divers will work too.

King fishing has also been fair to good south of Bluff Point. Both feeder and mature king salmon are typically caught this time of year in the Bluff Point area in 45-90 feet of water.

Troll sized herring and a variety of spoons behind a flasher is the standard setup. Try using no flasher for a different presentation.

King salmon are starting sneak into the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon based on local angler reports. Expect slow fishing over the week but look for newly arriving fish as the tide starts flooding into the lagoon.

Emergency Orders

Emergency Order 2-RCL-7-01-19 and 2-RCL-7-02-19 closed all east side 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 to fishing being allowed May 25-27, June 1-3, and June 8-10, 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 Rivers through July 15, 2019.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-13-19 reduced the king salmon bag and possession limits in the Ninilchik River to one hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater in length.

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 River and all marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point.

For additional information, please contact the ADF&G Homer office at 907-235-8191.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend and stay safe. The weather forecast looks pretty good but don’t forget your rain gear: Friday, partly cloudy with a high of 55 degrees and a low of 44 degrees, wind south 7 mph; Saturday rain, with a high of 51 degrees and a low of 45 degrees, wind east 9 mph; Sunday, showers, with a high of 51 degrees and a low of 44 degrees, wind south-southeast 9 mph: Monday evening showers, with a high of 53 degrees and a low of 44 degrees, wind south 8 mph.

Nick can be reached at if you have any fishing tips, tales or just want to ask a question that he won’t have a clue on how to answer.

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