Take fishing advice from winners, not whiners

Last week I received an email inquiring as to the major challenges one faces when writing a weekly fishing column.

Well, first of all, it’s really a kick to publish in a burg where most everyone seems to have three times the knowledge and skills of a piscatorian Obi-Wan Kenobi when it comes to perfect techniques, gear, success rate and the ability to make stuff up faster than I can ask questions.

Sometimes, depending upon the brew saturation of the interviewee, it’s tough to tell if an angler’s playfully yanking my gullible chain or simply laying out the facts.

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

“Oh yeah? Howz that?” you dubiously snort.

Because I’ve been around fisherpersonages since I was old enough to hold a stick dangling a piece of twine with an open safety pin at its end sporting a highly cheesed off earthworm. I’ve chased fins so long that my poles now creak and crackle while important gear such as swiveling joints are starting to rust. Therefore, I’ve been around enough that there probably isn’t an unabashed fishing fabrication that I haven’t heard or made up myself. Being misleading or mendacious, if you will, is part of the sport. Who wants to give away their favorite hot spot or beyond super-secret, bestest-ever, bait?

Even if someone is eager to share, many self-proclaimed “royalties-of-the-rod,” cogitating the proffered info, become immediately suspicious and figure that it has to be some sort of set-up, because nobody with an I.Q. higher than kelp would reveal covert intelligence that might lead to them to being out-fished.

What I really admire about true fisherman, especially in this hamlet, is that they excel when it comes to having a sense of humor and have 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 weenie ripples and expletives that would curl the toes of a Navy Seal, study the techniques of the winner instead of the whiner and/or just ask for help. I have and still do, although nowadays, I have my gullible meter set on “laser.”

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of Aug. 23 to Aug. 30.

Regulation Reminders

The Anchor River, Ninilchik River, Deep Creek, and Stariski Creek are open for Dolly Varden, steelhead, and rainbow trout fishing upstream of the ADF&G regulatory markers, but remain closed to salmon fishing upstream of these markers. The lower portions of these streams are open to sport fishing, except for kings and the use of bait and treble hooks are legal through Aug. 31.

Saltwater Fishing Report


Halibut fishing in Cook Inlet was a bit brutal this past week due to unruly seas and elevated puke factors, but the average weight of halibut harvested kept improving, with larger fish still cruising in from deeper waters.

If you haven’t figured out yet that ‘buts have the hots for Sumo herring on circle hooks, then stay tied to the dock and jig for sculpin. If you want to get fancy, blend in a strip of octopus or squid to keep them drooling. Salmon heads (use pinks, to make them feel worthwhile) work too, along with red-eyed jigs.

Unguided anglers may retain two halibut per day, four in possession. Guided anglers should consult federal regulations.

Anglers continue to be pestered by exceptionally rude and gluttonous spiny dogfish while bouncing the bottom for halibut. Rod holders with a modicum of common sense are high stepping out of the area instead of wasting single-finger waving time saluting the critters.


Trolling success for kings has remained poor to fair in Kachemak Bay. Chinooks were caught last week off the Homer Spit, Bluff Point, and Point Pogibshi to Flat Island. Most of the feeder kings have been on the small size and need some time to bulk up. Coho hunting around the Chugach Islands has continued to be good for anglers with the gas money to get there and back. Expect slower but still decent silver fishing in the Flat Island and Point Pogibshi areas. Both trolling and mooching small herring have been the most efficacious (way goodest) technique to pursue these fish.

Downriggers are essential for ferreting out the depths that your prey may be lurking.

For king or coho, try various depths between 15-90 feet using small herring trolled behind a flasher or dodger. If those obnoxious bait thieves, pinks, rear their empty little heads drop your lures into in deeper waters over 50 feet to avoid them.

There are still decent numbers of coho chugging around in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon with a seal or two in hot pursuit. There is also action along the east shore of the Homer Spit but things have slowed down.

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.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Fishing for lingcod has remained a drag since the season opened on July 1. Those boats returning with the cranky, baboon butt-ugly beasts have had the most success near the Chugach or Elizabeth Islands.

Fishing off the end of the Homer Spit can be a challenge if the winds are blasting into your face. There were a couple of days out there when the lure flingers ate more of their bait than their intended targets. Let things calm down before wailing away at the walleye pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish and occasional bottom feeders that would repulse a starving gull.

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

Rockfish are usually suckers for spoons, jigs, herring, and Hoochie flies. They are also commonly nailed while trolling with downriggers for salmon.

Fresh water Fishing Report


Expect tough fishing conditions this week due to the streams being high and muddy from recent rains.

Coho fishing has been forecasted to be poor to fair over the next week although there have been reports of a good number of silvers in The Anchor River.

Try hitting them early in the morning or at the mouth of the stream during the incoming tide. As usual, the push of fish is normally two hours before high tide and two hours after the peak. Salmon roe clusters and herring work well along with brightly colored lures. Steelhead trout should start entering these streams over the next couple weeks but will be low in numbers.

Dolly Varden fishing in the upper portions of the lower Kenai Peninsula roadside streams will significantly improve when the streams recede and clear. Dollies are huge fans of small bright spinners, fresh salmon eggs, patterned flies and are a tad brighter than humpies. Not that’s a notable achievement.

Lake Fishing

The Kenai Peninsula stocked lakes fishing conditions are good. Most of these lakes are stocked with rainbow trout which, at this time of year, are taken on dry or wet flies, small spoons, spinners, or bait. A brochure listing the locations of the stocked lakes is available on the ADF&G website and at ADF&G offices.


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 Dec.r 31, 2017. The next series of clamming tides run through August 25.

A PSP advisory was issued last week for Kasitsna Bay 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 accessible via boat or plane.

Fashionable razor clam beaches include Crescent River, Chinitna Bay and Polly Creek.

Boat operators should use restraint and common sense before launching across the inlet because of the strong currents and the possibility of sketchy weather. Check the forecasts before poking your bow into the inlet.

Free range Littleneck (steamer) and butter clams can be found in gravel beaches on the south side of Kachemak Bay from Seldovia to Chugachik Island. Large tribes of butter clams homestead on the islands in China Poot Bay. They like to hang up to two feet deep.

Littleneck clams can be found in a multiplicity of ‘hoods from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. They tend to chill out shallower substrate up to eight inches deep.

There will be a Tanner crab fishery season opening October 1 and closing February 28, 2018. All shrimp and other crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay remain closed for 2017.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if you have any tips, tales or scores to settle with spiny dogfish.