Reeling ‘Em In: Salmon fishing tips and tricks

The rumors are true. Last week the fishing lagoon was issuing coho like a loaded Pez dispenser along with some disoriented pinks and wandering reds. Of course, the odds were with those who knew what they were doing and sober enough to figure out which end of the pole to use.

A few bright and ill-tempered kings also showed up, making the day for at least one novice fisherette who was the guest of the lagoon mayor’s executive assistant, Shelly. Shortly after her first cast, the piscatorial student asked her mentor what she should do because her bobber had disappeared. “Reel up the slack and hit it” or some equally scholarly retort, did the trick. An approximately 11-pound chinook eventually took a faceplant on the beach, leaving the rookie with an appetite for piscatorial grad school. Not bad.

Easy now, don’t abandon your family and/or pets and head for the hole. These lower tides may slow things down somewhat and don’t forget that silvers have the same love for bright sunlight that they do as being the featured guest on an open grill. Hit them early in the morning or during the flood change outs.

Additional notes:

Cohos are also being taken by trollers, or moochers, who are savvy enough to discover areas abundant with bait fish and cool waters. Knowledgeable skippers look for these schools on their fish-finders and/or scan for birds diving and feeding. Why? Because salmon attack bait fish from underneath and drive them to the surface where lazy-butt sea birds dive on the scrumptious shoal like they’re a government giveaway program.

For those lucky enough to have a boat and are not trolling behind a jet-ski or a paddle board, remember, diving sea birds are usually an excellent indicator that salmon are present and have the munchies of an expectant mother.

When salmon get a hankering to hit a buffet they will search for a ball of baitfish then tear through the middle of the mass smacking the tasty treats with their heads and tails, then take a one-eighty, and scarf up the cripples.

Tip: Whether you are fishing from a boat, a line tied to your survival suit, or an easy chair on the beach, one of the most important factors in attracting salmon is the action and/or scent of your lure.

When I have trouble getting strikes, I up my odds by splitting the discarded bellies of gutted fish and checked out what they’ve been feeding on. Why offer them gruel when they crave a candlefish quiche?

That goes for the Fishing Hole too. At one moment, cured eggs work but give it an hour and a small plug-cut herring will be the hot item but only if you float it upside down two- and three-quarter inches below a chartreuse and orange bobber with a siren activated flashing light attached. In other words, with fish, ya just never know. Except for pinks, of course. They’ll beach themselves just for the attention.

Time now to take a look at the fishing report for July 24.

Freshwater Fishing

Dolly fishing should start improving in the roadside streams. Water conditions have improved with the friendlier weather. Fish the incoming tide in the lower river for spunky newbies. Beads, streamers, and smolt patterns should do it for you when using fly fishing gear. If you prefer to spin, try size 0 to 2 spinners or small spoons.

Chasing dollies in the Bridge Creek Reservoir remains a fine idea. Nice catches of the small fish are being reported. Casting bait, small lures or spoons from shore has been working just fine.

Saltwater Fishing


Halibut fishing continues to be smokin’ in Cook Inlet. When the weather hasn’t been acting like a cantankerous jackass, the more distant locations have been producing the heftier slabs and more fish. Boat hunters willing to chill and kick back while soaking bait can get some nice takedowns in nearshore locations.

A little antsy? Drift around different locations to find what you are looking for before setting the anchor and dropping a disgusting bag of chum to attract the gluttons.

King Salmon

Trolling for kings has remained passable in Kachemak Bay with chinook stalkers taking fish scattered throughout the area. Bluff Point and Point Pogibshi have the best odds.

The customary setup for blackmouth is to troll small herring or spoons behind a flasher, but hootchies, and tube flies are productive also.

Other Saltwater

China Poot personal use dipnet fishery for sockeye has finally kicked into overdrive with most of the participants nailing their limits. Things should remain on “high perk” during the coming week.

There have been mostly pink salmon showing up in Tutka Lagoon. Even the shoreline vegetation is depressed.

As mentioned earlier, there are some hungry schools of coho cruising the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. Salmon egg roe clusters or cut herring suspended under a bobber are sparking most of the action.

Humpies are showing up in large numbers throughout Cook Inlet. Oh, happy days. Individuals jonesing for a pink experience should try fishing from Point Pogibshi to Flat Island or buy a Barbie doll.

Lingcod seekers have continued to have various success along the outer coast. Leadhead jigs with a white grubtail seem to be on the beast’s “A” list when it comes to a submerged fine dining experience. Just watch your back if you land one.

Surf fishing in Cook Inlet has been fair. Beachside long-casters are landing halibut along the Clam Gulch beaches. Whiskey Gulch provides good shoreline access as well.

The end of the Homer Spit is the best bet for variety and numbers of fish. Line flingers even took several humpies out there last week because the brain stems with fins got lost looking for Tutka Lagoon.

Nick can be reached at if he isn’t at the end of the Spit watching fishermen sprint toward the parking lot after realizing what they’ve landed. Some of those folks can really get their jet on.