Reeling ‘Em In: Smoking silvers and other fishing techniques

Since we have received several inquiries lately about smoking silvers, this looks like an excellent time to offer you a technique that Jane and I have for years.

Admittedly, the oil content of coho warriors is lower than that of the chinook or sockeye, but one can morph them into drool-invoking smoked fillets with the use of a remarkable brine.

In Homer, there are as many methods for prepping salmon fillets as there are for curing roe. Our favorite is a dry brine which is a primo formula for turning silver into gold. Especially if you know how to utilize a smoker without curing the fillets into Frisbees or slightly odiferous placemats.

Dry Salmon Brine

4 cups brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

¾ -1 cup rock salt

Garlic, powder or crushed, sprinkle over salmon

Onion powder

Lemon Pepper

And/or any other seasonings that you feel the need to add.

Mix the brown sugar, white sugar, and rock salt together. Add a teaspoon (more or less) of one or all the other seasonings.

Place a layer of salmon fillets skin side down on a flat pan. Put a layer of the brine mixture on top.

If you have a substantial batch of salmon to brine you can use a medium sized tote and layer the mixture laden fillets as many times as needed.

Brine for at least 24 hours. The longer you brine the more flavor the meat gets.

After you remove the fillets from the brine, rinse them clean.

Dry the salmon with paper towels and let air dry for 10 to 30 minutes.

Smoke until the fillets are at least a couple of hours from being ready and then lightly blanket the meat with a drizzled rub of honey and continue to cure until the fillets are finished to your taste.

Time now to take a look at the fishing report for Aug. 16.

Freshwater Fishing

Coho fishing will continue to gear up over the week in the roadside streams. Hit the rivers’ mouths during the incoming tide to welcome fresh arrivals or at dawn’s glimmer when fish tend to get their feed on. Salmon roe clusters suspended under a bobber have been working great.

Fishing for dollies on the upper sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River remains fair with fish scattered throughout the sections. Note: The Anchor River is experiencing a good buildup of those battling beasties.

Beads are usually the most effective this time of the season for popping them.

Saltwater Fishing


Halibut fishing hasn’t started to put on the brakes yet in Cook Inlet. When the weather takes a breath, the more outlying locations have been producing hunkier flats and better quantities. If you are willing to spend more time chilling out and soaking bait, you’ll eventually get into them in nearer to shore.

Consider drifting around in different areas to pinpoint the fish before throwing the hook. Don’t forget to hang a chum bag of odiferous fish gut offal on the line that would make a turkey buzzard hurl.

King Salmon

Trolling for kings has remained passable in Kachemak Bay with trollers finding fish dispersed throughout the area. Bluff Point and Point Pogibshi remain your best shots.

Other Saltwater

There was still a good number of silvers in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon when snagging opened Wednesday.

Coho fishing within Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet has been a mix bag of successes. Point Pogibshi and the Silver Ridge areas had the best odds for getting into a brawl with them.

Lingcod seekers continued to boat the critters with a shark’s grin and a Freddy Kruger attitude along the outer coast. Leadhead jigs with a white grubtail makes their maws water.

Surf fishing in Cook Inlet has been decent. Line hurlers are landing hungry ‘buts and a few bait-snatching sharks along the Clam Gulch beaches. Whiskey Gulch provides good shoreline access for line flinging, as well.

The Homer Spit remains the best bet for a variety and quantities of fish.

If you have a strike out there and your prey generates a wake that you can surf on and it’s headed your way, beat feet before you become the YouTube feature of the week.

Emergency Orders

NEW: Emergency Order 2-SS-7-57-23 opens snagging in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon waters (excluding the Homer Harbor) for the remainder of the season.

Emergency Order 2-RF-7-20-23 reduces the rockfish bag and possession limits in Cook Inlet to three per day and six in possession of which only one per day, two in possession can be nonpelagic.

Advisory Announcement

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is liberalizing existing sport fishing regulations at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and adjacent waters excluding the Homer Boat Harbor by opening this area to snagging beginning noon Wednesday, Aug. 16 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 31. The areas open to snagging includes the Lagoon and the waters from the Homer city dock (near the entrance to the Homer Boat Harbor) northwest along the east side of the Homer Spit to an ADF&G marker located approximately 200 yards northwest of the entrance to the Lagoon, and 300 feet from the shore. The waters open to snagging do not include the Homer Boat Harbor. The Homer Barge Basin approximately 0.5 miles northwest of the Lagoon is closed to all sport fishing by regulation.

All other regulations remain in effect and are outlined on page 74 of the Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet. This includes the bag limit and possession limit of six coho salmon of any size.

Nick can be reached at if he still recovering from the shock of near misses when snagging opened at The Hole.