Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Study techniques of the winner, not the whiner

I often get asked if it’s tough to write a fishing column while living in a community where more than half the population professes to have at least triple the knowledge and skills of the piscatorian beside them, especially when it comes to utilizing perfect techniques, gear and the ability to quickly make $#*^ up when it involves their actual success and acumen.

I enjoy jawing with the anglers at the cleaning stations even though sometimes, when their breaths could short out a breathalyzer, it’s tough to tell if they are good-naturedly pulling my chain or simply laying out the facts.

Fortunately throughout the years, I have developed a pretty frosty, state-of-the-art, b.s. meter.

I’ve been around fin hunters since I first figured out how to stick-dangle a piece of twine featuring a highly cheesed-off earthworm on the end of an open safety pin. I didn’t do well in the wading pool but developed a great casting swing.

Being misleading or mendacious is part of the sport. Who wants to give away their favorite honey hole or identify a double super-secret, perhaps marginally illicit, bait?

Even if someone is willing to share such proprietary information, some anglers will still be suspicious thinking that it could be some sort of a set-up because nobody with an I.Q. higher than dried smelt would reveal covert intelligence that might lead to them to being out-fished.

Fortunately, many of the fisherman in our hamlet excel when it comes to having a sense of humor and the kindness to teach their skills to anyone who truly wants to learn.

If you spot someone filling their stringer while others pound the water, producing nothing more than small wakes and expletives that would curl the toes of Samuel L. Jackson, study the techniques of the winner instead of the whiner, then ask for advice. Caution: If you want to make sure what they are doing is legal, just look slowly up and ask, “I wonder what the trooper’s doing here?” If they suddenly remember that they left something in their rig, chill on their technique.

Now it’s time to check out the fishing report for the week of Aug. 17.

Freshwater Fishing

All sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek and the Ninilchik River are open to sport fishing, but they are closed to all king fishing. You may not fish for salmon above the 2-mile marker in the streams, and your gear is limited to single-hook no bait above the 2-mile markers.

The silver counts are steady through the Anchor River weirs and posted on the Fish Counts website. On Aug. 16, a season total of 517 had moved through.

Your best bet for action remains at the deep blush of dawn or during the rising tides around the stream mouths. So far, dead-drifting salmon roe clusters beneath a float has been producing the majority of strikes, but the silvers also have an obsession for spinners and flies featuring pink highlights. Try some if they get persnickety about your glop of eggs. Some homemade roe recipes have produced results that could seal a hole in a boat hull or make a seagull hurl.

A few dollies and pinks have been passing through the lower sections daily. As of Aug. 16, a season total of 1,210 dollies have rolled through, and there has been limited success finding them in the upper section of the Anchor.

Dollies will chase small spinners and spoons. If you prefer fly fishing, use beads or smolt patterns.

Saltwater Fishing


The marine weather hit high on the suck-o-meter last week, keeping many from hitting their favorite halibut hotspots. Flat fishing should be pretty fair over the next week.

King Salmon

Trolling for chinook continued to turtle along, but dedicated blackmouth pursuers still managed to track down some of the fish scattered throughout Kachemak Bay, including Bluff Point, Glacier Spit and Point Pogibshi.

Pinks are still invading Kachemak Bay like a blitz of vacuous numskulls searching for an operational brain cell. The resulting chaos makes it difficult to get to the kings cruising around. Suggestion: If you set your gear deep enough, the humpies will be clueless as to your presence and keep running into each other’s butts rather than your set-up.

Coho Salmon

Boat hunters have been taking some coho around the Homer Spit or Point Pogibshi. Small thin blade spoons or troll size herring will bring on strikes.

Silver fishing is slowing down so fast at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon that even the line snaggers are getting desperate enough to try some bait. The dawn hours and the tide change outs will still give a brief shot at some action unless the opening day of the Kachemak Bay Coho Salmon Gillnet Fishery makes catching a sculpin out there a real day maker.

Emergency Orders

Please review the Emergency Orders and Advisory Announcements below in their entirety before heading out on your next fishing trip.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-18-21 increases the hatchery king salmon bag and possession limits in the Ninilchik River from one fish to two fish 20” or greater in length and removes the annual limit effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 12 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021.

Emergency Order 2-RCL-7-04-21 and 2-RCL-7-05-21 closed all EASTSIDE Cook Inlet beaches to clamming for all species from the mouth of the Kenai River to the southernmost tip of the Homer Spit in 2021.

Nick can be reached at if he isn’t still trying to find his coho killer Z-Ray that Willie might have just purloined, again, for midnight run to Kenai. If so, he had better keep rolling north or the next thing he might catch will be a medevac.

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