Nick Varney.

Nick Varney.

Reeling ‘em in: Spiny dogfish are deserving of contempt

I received some inquiries about my recent social slights concerning those sweet little spiny dogfish (small sharks) that are pulverizing the bait presentations of some of the halibut hunters in Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet.

These spiny dogfish are a distinct species, the Squalus suckleyi. Demonstrably, well named.

They are glutenous, bait pilfering, bantam cousins of their larger equivalents and are also known as piked dogfish, skittledog, spotted dogfish, white-spotted dogfish, codshark, thorndogs and other names only bellowed on Marine Corps drill fields.

On the positive side, I’ve been told that they are yummy and not a total waste of gills even though they flaunt mildly poisonous dorsal fins. Truthfully now, who wouldn’t covet a cooler full of creatures that are mostly used as fertilizer, pet food and liver oil? Plus, they are also known as rock salmon. Rock salmon? You have to be *&^%&#^ kidding me.

Yummy? Locust are edible too, but they don’t show up as a primo ingredient in Cocoa Krispies.

Did you know that those annoying a#$%*@$s travel in schools of hundreds to thousands of individuals? They are called dogfish because they move and hunt in packs and are as challenging to catch as starving northern pike in a kiddy pool.

Not only that, their life span ranges from 25-100 years and it is the most common shark alive. Isn’t that special?

If you find yourself plagued by a herd of these things, just anchor up and move. Simple as that.

Anyway, I have nothing personal against certain members of the superorder Selachimorpha species. (Heck, it’s shark week on the Discovery Channel.) In fact, for a few years, I savored dining on judiciously prepared steaks carved from the pinkish flesh of the salmon shark. Those cuts were especially outstanding when lightly basted with garlic/lemon butter and cooked over a medium hot grill. But then I chilled when an Anchorage Daily News article back in 2014 stated that, “Among the species with the highest risk for elevated mercury levels is the salmon shark.” I ran a quick scan of the symptoms of mercury poisoning and noted that many of them were the same as the normal aging process kicking my keister every day. That did it. I didn’t feel the need to accelerate my momentum toward dust mote status. Shark was off the menu.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for week of July 16 to July 22.

Regulation reminders

Update: King Salmon Emergency Order

Per Emergency Order No. 2-KS-7-36-18, effective July 16 -31, the conservation zones surrounding the mouths of Anchor River, Stariski Creek, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River remain closed to king salmon fishing.

Per Emergency Order No. 2-KS-7-37-18, effective July 16 -31, sport fishing gear in Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek, and Ninilchik River is restricted to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure.

More Regulation Reminders

Ninilchik River is closed to wild king salmon, but open to hatchery king salmon. The bag and possession limit on hatchery king salmon is one 20 inches or greater. Hatchery kings are identified as missing their adipose fin, the fleshy fin on the back just in front of the tail.

To release a king, the fish may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Anglers are now allowed to snag fish in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi except for the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (Fishing Hole), which only opens by emergency order.

China Poot personal use dip net fishery opened July 1 to Alaska residents only, upstream of the ADF&G markers. Personal use caught sockeye salmon must have both tips of the tail fin removed.

Lingcod season opened July 1. The bag and possession limit is two fish and the minimum legal size is 35 inches with the head attached or 28 inches from tip of tail to font of the dorsal fin with the head removed. Lingcod which are gaffed must be retained. A gaff may not be used to puncture any fish intended or required to be released.

The marine waters of Tutka Bay Lagoon within 100 yards of the hatchery net pens are closed to sport fishing for any species.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

Halibut fishing was fair to enjoyable this past week. There were even a few hawgs over 100 pounds to brag about including a new Halibut Derby leader.

Boats returning to Anchor and Deep Creek tractor launches also scored some nice flats.

Reports of spiny dogfish bycatch while chasing halibut have increased. I told you it was shark week.

Salmon

Feeder king trolling picked a bit over the last week. Hot patches were spotty near the Homer Spit and Glacier Spit.

Landings of sockeye, coho, and Dolly Varden have been reported while trolling.

Now that the one-mile corridor restrictions for king salmon fishing are lifted, trolling near the beach in Upper Cook Inlet for late run king salmon will be a popular activity for fin hunters this week. Don’t get your hopes up. Expect slow fishing for these spawners in shallow waters near the beach.

Don’t forget that king fishing is closed within the conservation zones surrounding the mouths of Anchor River, Stariski Creek, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River per an emergency order.

Feeder kings can be nailed in a variety of depths up to 100 feet in the vicinity of rocky points and kelp beds. Always keep your eyes peeled for squadrons of seabirds high-diving on bait fish. Salmon are probably below driving the silvery snacks to the surface.

Coho Salmon

Fishing for coho at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon (the Fishing Hole) has been fair to righteous. Just after we went to press last week, several large schools mugged the lagoon during the incoming tides.

Even some late arriving kings rolled in.

Although a multiplicity of techniques can work in the lagoon, cured eggs suspended beneath a float ruled the action. Flashy spinners with red bells or egg beads will bring on a strike as will the old standby, a plug cut herring hanging around 18 inches below a bobber. Watch as a school approaches, cast several feet in front of it and lightly twitch the line as they pass by.

Try hitting them during the predawn hours and/or when the tides change out.

Trolling for silvers in the salt waters outside Cook Inlet and in Kachemak Bay near Point Pogibshi and the Homer Spit has also been picking up.

Sockeye and Pink Salmon

Dipnetting and snagging for stocked sockeye returning to China Poot slowed down during the middle of last week but picked up again over the weekend.

Sockeye and pink salmon have arrived in Tutka Bay Lagoon. This is a stocked fishery paid for by enhancement taxes on commercial fisheries. Please avoid commercial boats operating in the area.

Lingcod

Lingcod fishing has remained fair for those willing to make the trip out into the Cook Inlet. Lings brought into the Homer Harbor have been between 30 to 44 pounds.

Rockfish

Fishermen have been banging the rockfish while on halibut or salmon hunts. More non-pelagic rockfish have been whacked in the Cook Inlet waters near Chugach and Perl islands.

Rockfish enjoy hanging out near rocky points and in kelp beds. There’s a good chance to run into some pelagic rockfish in Kachemak Bay near Bluff Point and Point Pogibshi.

Take a crack at them by trolling with spoons, tube flies, or herring.

Jigs also work well if you have the patience.

Shellfish

Razor Clam Emergency Order

Per Emergency Order No. 2-RCL-7-01-18 and 2-RCL-07-02-18 all EASTSIDE Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are closed to all clamming through Dec. 31.

The next clamming tides are July 27-31. We’ll talk more about them when the time comes.

Other Saltwater Fishing

If you’d just like to kick back and do grab-bag fishing, toss a line off the end of the Homer Spit. A cornucopia of species are finning around out there including walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Dolly Varden, a mishmash of flatfish types along silvers and a tardy king or two. No spiny dogfish, but that doesn’t mean they won’t show up just to be total jerks.

Fresh Water Streams

On the Ninilchik River, fishing for hatchery king salmon is expected to be slow. Try the early morning hours for the best fishing.

Fishing for Dolly Varden should be fair to good this week. Fly fisherman are most successful with beads and streamers. Small spinners and spoons are effective with spinning gear.

Very few pink salmon have been observed in the Anchor River, Deep Creek and Ninilchik River so far this year.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tips, tales or haiku love poems for spiny dogfish.

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