So long, and thanks for all the fish tips

Labor Day weekend was a bit temperamental this year.

Erratic winds and snits of tedious downpours pounded the area and then teased with promising massages of sunshine that suddenly terminated in flesh wrinkling rain that waterlogged the soul.

On a positive note, there were some seashore casters able to hot-step it into the nearest shelter of adult emporiums to catch a football game or something called soccer.

Unfortunately, many of the small boat crowd ended up fighting the whitecapped seas which prematurely ended their fin hunts and sent them power-hurling toward the harbor.

Depending on where you were wetting a line, things weren’t all that bad especially if you were targeting those beautiful silvers entering the streams.

For the non piscatorians, the annual Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival was stone cool, as usual, and landed some tolerable skies for its visitors and exceptional craftsmen. I’m lucky to be able to put my poles together much less a boat.

After the weekend, most of the camp grounds looked as though the occupants discovered there was a free pizza feast week coming up in downtown Spenard and smoked north to carb-up for their continuing migration south.

Anchororians split for their metropolitan digs anxious to convert their summer sports dens back into miniature NFL stadiums and to prepare for a winter of semi hibernation while upgrading the bullet proof rating of their abodes.

No problem. They left a lot more room for the hard core who grasp the fact that there’s still some excellent fishing left.

Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when we put this column on hiatus for about eight months.

So, before we close out our last report for the season, I’d like to thank some special people for their tales, tips and support this summer.

First of all, the local the Department of Fish and Game professionals for the plethora of angling information they published each week and especially Teri, who did an incredible job as a conduit of their communiques. By the way, she has a superb sense of humor. Lucky me.

I’m not the political type, but I must give super kudos to the unofficial mayor of the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and summer homesteader of the southwest corner of the pond, Tom, fish assassin extraordinaire and bait mackerel enthusiast, for his expertise, general jaw boning, and verbal smackdowns of miscreants with rods.

And finally, a special tip of my spinning gear to Louis, Pete, Matt, George, Mikey, Ted, Grant, Jerry, Linda and Bev who shared their information, slam dunk funny comments about the column, and hilarious accounts of their misadventures while visiting the area.

Sadly, it’s time now to take a look at this season’s final fishing report encompassing the week of September 6 through Sept. 12.

Regulation Reminders

The flowing waters of the Anchor and Ninilchik Rivers, Deep and Stariski Creeks, are restricted to only one unbaited, single hook, artificial lure through Oct. 31.

Salmon may not be targeted or harvested upstream of the two-mile regulatory markers on the Anchor and Ninilchik Rivers, Deep and Stariski Creeks.

Make sure you are aware of the differences between a silver and a steelhead.

It’s pretty simple. Steelhead/rainbow trout have black spots all over both lobes of the tail while silvers have black spots only on the upper lobe of the tail. Too much info for ya? Try reading it a bit slower this time around. Notes are allowed. Even encouraged for some of you.

Steelhead/rainbow trout may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Saltwater Fishing Report

Halibut

Halibut fishing is getting a bit tricky but still possible throughout the fall and into the winter. Fewer anglers will be chasing them as the larger halibut begin their migration journeys into deeper waters and the upcoming winter storms make for rough seas and green gilled passengers.

Salmon

Feeder king salmon are available year around in Kachemak Bay and are a hoot to hunt.

Some of their favorite sub surface hangouts include areas around Point Pogibshi, Bluff Point, the islands around Eldridge Passage, Bear Cove and “You should have been here yesterday!” spots on the south side of Kachemak Bay.

Downriggers are essential for trolling in deeper water. Take a crack at them at depths between 15-90 feet. Small herring trolled behind a flasher or dodger will get their attention as will tackle such as flasher rigs with hoochies, plugs, spinners or pursuing spoons.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Fall and winter storms tend to limit lingcod fishing though it is possible until the end of the year. Some of the better areas for taking them are near Chugach or Elizabeth Islands if you can get there and back without encountering nose bleed tall waves.

The preeminent whereabouts for pursuing black, dark and dusky gourmet rockfish in Kachemak Bay are along Bluff Point and near Point Pogibshi, with even better fishing outside of Cook Inlet around the Chugach Islands.

If you inadvertently catch a rockfish that you do not wish to keep, remember that when caught in deep water they will suffer injuries from decompression.

Recent research by ADF&G indicates survival of released rockfish can be substantially improved by releasing fish at the depth of capture. For more information on the use of deep water release mechanisms, see ADF&G’s web page at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingSportFishinginfo.rockfishconservation.

The Homer Spit will continue to offer a diversity of year around fishing opportunities for the good ole walleye pollock, pacific cod, and a variety of reasonably edible flatfish except for the gag factor 10, Arrowtooth flounder.

The Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon Area is closed to snagging from the Homer City Dock near the entrance of the Homer Boat Harbor (including the Homer Boat Harbor) to the ADF&G markers about 200 yards northwest of the lagoon entrance to a distance of 300 feet from shore.

The Hole still has a few jumpers lollygagging around. There have been unconfirmed reports that a few of them have only partly disintegrated.

Fresh Water Fishing

Streams

Fall fishing success in the Homer area streams will fluctuate with changing water conditions associated with periods of rain and the angler’s ability to breathe in a downpour.

Steelhead fishing on these streams typically peaks in mid to late September. Fly fisherpersonages will get the most hits by dead drifting a variety of streamers, leeches, and salmon egg patterns. Spinners, jigs suspended under bobbers and corkies with yarn will work too.

Dolly Varden will continue to be available through ice-up. They can be caught on the same fly fishing tackle used for steelhead and can provide excellent action on light tackle. Heads up: Rumor has it that those uncouth waste of fins called pinks have been getting in the way of real fish down on The Anchor.

Shellfish

Razor Clam Emergency Order

All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit are closed to the taking of all clams through December 31, 2017.

A PSP advisory was issued in August in Kachemak Bay. As always, consuming sport harvested shellfish is at your own risk. Contact the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation at (907) 269-7501 or http://dec.alaska.gov/eh/fss/seafood/Shellfish_Home.html.

Razor clams can be found on beaches along the west side of Cook Inlet and are accessed by boat or plane. Popular razor clam beaches include Crescent River, Chinitna Bay and Polly Creek.

Hard-shell clams are found in gravel beaches on the south side of Kachemak Bay from Seldovia to Chugachik Island. You will need a lantern or strong flashlight, as minus tides occur after dark. Now there’s an experience I can’t find anywhere on my bucket list.

Remember, it’s quickly becoming that time of the year when boat captains should use even more caution before traveling across the inlet not only because of the strong currents but the weather can get suddenly ugly as summer sinks father toward the fall equinox and the grand entrance of winter.

There will be a Tanner crab sport and subsistence fishery opening October 1 and closing February 28, 2018. Permits are available on-line at the ADF&G store.

All shrimp and other crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay remain closed for 2017.

Until the runs return…

Nick

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.

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