Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Summer fishing is winding down

We have reached the section of the summer’s trail where it starts to wind down into the valleys of September, soon to be awash in patinas of gold and crimson.

While the environs cool, many of the streams will start to heat up, catalyzed by the additive of silver runs and warrior steelhead. It is a time where opportunities abound to discover seclusion and quiet, unfettered by overflowing campgrounds and elbow fishing.

Dedicated fin hunters will, once more, enjoy landing beauties from the surge of silver schools by incorporating the knowledge and patience garnered over years of stalking their preferred haunts in the cockcrow hours or the gloaming of day.

Silvers are edgy and avoid daylight like it’s an insatiable grizzly with breath that could dissolve the paint off an interstate ferry. They love the rain and tend to motor upstream as aquatic levels rise. They also prefer their tributary to be as awesome as you think you are when styling a wading outfit worth more than a RV rental.

Many a piscatorians reading this will snort that they don’t need any tips on how to entice a strike from these battlers. That’s cool. But if you are not a fin assassin so skilled that when your quarry catches a glimpse of you ambling down to the stream’s shore it gives up and does a backflip onto bank, stick around. Maybe some of the following insights and suggestions will benefit you in your hunt for the motherload of argent brawlers.

Spin casting can be a very prolific way to target coho.

When casting, it is important not to stop retrieving until the spinner or spoon is almost at your feet. Silvers will often follow your lure all the way in before striking. I’ve had them take a whack just as I started to pull my Z-Ray from the river. The ferocity of the hit startled the hell out me, resulting in a botched hookup because I never spotted the scrapper zipping in from the shadows.

It can also pay to randomly move the rod to the left or right with slight hesitations as you change the lure’s direction of travel. The brief pauses will allow the enticement to flutter and, with a bit of luck, wheedle a strike.

If you are using a fly rod and focusing on fish holding in the slower currents, don’t cast your fly and line on top of them. Throw beyond or to side of where the fish lurk and then start your retrieve as short strips with the occasional pause. Silvers will leave the school to chase and hit the fly. They also like to hang out in shady areas such as shoreline overhangs or in swirl pools behind rocks and debris jams.

Remember, when hooked, they cop a nasty attitude and will routinely rocket out of the water with a tendency to roll in the line and leader.

Flies commonly used for this type of fishing are Muddler minnows, flash flies in greens, blues and reds and wooly buggers in different colors. Check out the local tackle shops for further suggestions.

Hey, use what works for you but don’t back off from trying sundry approaches. Who knows? Fellow anglers may end up slipping through the pucker brush to get a sneak peek at your technique rather than the other way around.

Now it’s time to take a look the fishing report for the week of Aug. 24.

Freshwater Fishing

All sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek and the Ninilchik River are still open to sport 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 those markers.

Silver counts are steady through the Anchor River weirs and posted on the Fish Counts website. As of Aug. 22, 2021, 1,157 have rolled through.

Fish the glimmer of dawn and/or the incoming tide near the stream mouths. Dead drifting salmon roe clusters beneath a float is a productive way of doing business, but if that doesn’t work, give spinners and flies a try.

A minor number of dollies and lunkhead pinks are passing through the lower sections daily. As of Aug. 22, 2021, 1,252 dollies have tripped the counter and are to still hard to find in the upper section of the Anchor River. As for the pinks? Eh… even the weirs don’t pay attention to them.

Dollies go for small spinners and spoons, if you are into spinning gear. Beads or smolt patterns are cool with fly fishing gear.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

The marine weather has been unable to make up its mind lately. Expect decent fishing over the next week if it chills with the hissy fits and allows conditions favorable to reaching worthier halibut grounds. The diminishing tides over the weekend will give you a better chance to set a firm anchor and allow quality fishing time without your bait taking a side trip toward St. Augustine.

King Salmon

Trolling for kings continues to putter along in low gear although anglers are still finding fish scattered throughout Kachemak Bay including Bluff Point, Glacier Spit and Point Pogibshi.

Humpies, or subaquatic locust, if you will, are still stampeding throughout Kachemak Bay, which makes it more difficult to nail the chinooks. There are large swarms of them from Seldovia to Flat Island. Keep your gear deep to avoid the Tweedledums and Tweedledees of the sea because they lack the independent intellect to figure out what the hell you are up to.

Coho Salmon

Trolling for silvers around the Homer Spit, Point Pogibshi or Silver Ridge has been somewhat fruitful. Small thin blade spoons or troll size herring are getting most of the takedowns.

Coho fishing is on life support at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. If you still want to rehearse casting techniques, it’s a great time to do it without people watching.

If you want to up your game while slinging line, tack on plug cut herring or a small cluster of salmon eggs under a bobber and hit the pond at day break, during the incoming tide, or outside of the lagoon on its ebb. Try a spinner or a Pixie spoon if all else fails or just go home. You were warned.

Keep an eye on the Mud Bay beachlines as you start out on the spit. There has been some coho action out there as the tide rolls in.

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-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.

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.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t practicing losing gear at the Anchor again.

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