I need to start this column with a warning: There is a despicable sneak thief roaming the Homer Spit and the area prowler can ruin your day if you have your head up and locked even for a few seconds.
I have spotted this miscreant myself or at least his E-Vile twin.
Homer News reporter and all-around cool guy Michael Armstrong decided to pass the sordid tale along to me although he usually handles the local crime beat.
Why moi? Well, he’s a hard-hitting professional who deals with the intense stuff.
Me? I’m the go-to dude when it comes to somewhat fishy items that rarely meet the fundamental requirements for miniscule misdemeanors resulting in fines less than a buck.
Thus the following tale: It seems a couple of anglers were fishing off the end of the spit and managed to shorten the life span of three Dolly Varden.
The erudite fishers dutifully placed their catches on a stringer to keep them as cool and fresh as something dead could be without displaying unseemly decomposition.
While he was gearing up with a new hook, one of the gentlemen had his back turned toward the string of flat-lined trout.
It was then that the sky skulker struck and it wasn’t pretty.
A bald eagle jetted in behind the hapless piscator and purloined his largest dolly which, unfortunately, was attached to the stringer holding the rest of the catch. Game on.
Startled beach visitors were suddenly witness to the rare spectacle of a diminutive school of flying fish momentarily rocketing through the air in Kachemak Bay.
Fortunately the bird was oblivious to the entirety of the trophies scored and two of the fish took serious face plants after slipping off the stringer.
The cunning scoundrel ended up with a single Dolly and a dangling cord for its eaglets to throttle each other with while brawling over the main entrée.
Russell Campbell of Wandering Nomad Photography who watched and reported the dust-up said that the eagle had just snarfed down a common murre, so he was surprised at the pilfering.
I wasn’t. Those bad boys will stuff themselves on a beached whale and still try to kick the hell out of their buddies over a miniscule hunk of fat stuck in one of their beaks.
Russell has some nice shots of the episode along with other terrific shots on his Facebook page.
Check it out at www.facebook.com/pages/Wandering-Nomad-Nature-Photography/304660982906343
Now let’s take a look at the fishing report for this week.
Regulation Reminders and Emergency Orders
King Salmon Emergency Orders
The combined annual limit remains at two king salmon 20 inches or greater in all marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point remains in effect.
An emergency order rescinded the preseason action that maintained the conservation zone surrounding the Anchor River mouth and regulations associated with the Special Harvest Areas 2 miles north of the Anchor River to Bluff Point from July 1-15.
Additional Regulation Reminders
Snagging remains an unadulterated no-no, in Kachemak Bay east of a line from Anchor Point to Point Pogibshi until June 24.
All anglers sport fishing for king salmon (except stocked landlocked lakes) must either have a king salmon stamp or harvest card. Refer to page 5 of the regulation summary where they’ll set you straight on how to keep your butt from being issued a ticket that has a nasty baggage charge but can’t be used to fly anywhere you’d want to go. Don’t forget an ink pe
Early-season halibut fishing is staying on the up tick with additional larger hawgs being whacked.
Sampled fish harvested out of the Homer port averaged 13.1 pounds (range 5.6-77.1 pounds).
The fishery is improving because the flats are acting like landlocked snowbirds and abandoning their winter haunts to frolic and gorge in shallower summer feeding areas.
Unguided anglers can retain two halibut a day, 4 in possession.
Regulation changes are in effect for guided anglers fishing for halibut. The bag limit for guided anglers is two fish per day, one of any size and one less than or equal to 29 inches in length, and guided anglers have an annual limit of five halibut. A more extensive description of these federal regulations can be found at alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/frules/79fr13906.pdf
You can also contact NOAA fisheries at 1-800-304-4846 or 907-586-7228 with questions about regulations pertaining to sport fishing for halibut.
Now don’t panic: The department has received reports of “mushy” halibut this season. The flesh of these fish is very soft or flabby, sometimes with pockets of jelly-like tissue, and the flesh is mushy after being cooked.
Experience during years of high prevalence of this condition (1998, 2005, 2011-12) shows that the incidence of these fish can be high for anglers fishing certain locales, so if you catch a fish that feels flabby or does not look as robust and rounded as a healthy halibut should, release it immediately unharmed and smoke off to a different area to avoid these fish.
Department research is ongoing.
Chill. Your charter captains know what they are doing and how to avoid these softballs so head on out and enjoy yourselves.
Trolling success for kings is reported as strikingly decent near Point Pogibshi and along the south side of Kachemak Bay, but has been laid back lately from Bluff Point north.
Standard trolling techniques for chinooks include the use of dodgers or flashers to invite the fish to take a shot at primary offerings such as delectable herring, tempting tube flies and flamboyant spoons.
These setups are so righteous that some anglers have started reporting catches of pink, chum, sockeye and a few silvers. Some haven’t because they couldn’t detect the difference unless they had a salmon shark on the line.
Sport-caught pink salmon may be used as bait in the salt water fisheries which is a real bummer for their already damaged self esteem.
Angling families targeting salmon should positively ponder about entering the five species of Pacific salmon challenge. Details are available at www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingSport.fiveSalmonFamily
Kings are continuing to enter the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon and fishing should be good to excellent especially if new schools continue to arrive during this week’s high tides.
Herring and mackerel (if you can find some) continue to fire the hits especially in the early morning hours. Blue and orange Vibrax spinners also do well along with eggs around the incoming tides. Things tend to slow down to hearse speeds when the hot sun hits the pond.
Blackmouth angling at Seldovia Lagoon is pretty nice with more fish cruising into the lagoon; the best time to fish, of course, is during the incoming tide. Fisherpersonages are using Vibrax spinners, herring and shrimp as bait. No leak yet on what works the best.
Chinooks are beginning to lurk around at the head of Halibut Cove Lagoon.
As a part of the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative, the Department is looking at the genetic stock composition of the marine king salmon fishery. There are port samplers stationed at the Homer Harbor, and Deep Creek and Anchor Point tractor launches conducting quick interviews and collecting biological information, scales, and genetic clips from sport caught king salmon. If you fished for king salmon in Cook Inlet, regardless of success, they’d like to talk to you.
More information on the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative can be found at dfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=chinookinitiative.main.
Other Saltwater Fishing
Casting off the end of the Homer Spit can be an interesting way to pass the time.
The types of finny genre available are walleye pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, Dolly Varden and a sporadic baffled salmon.
Additional entertainment is sometimes provided by a few anglers who utilize equipment such as poles that could be used as backup cell phone towers and those with unattended and unsecured stringers. Just ask Russell.
Lingcod may not be harvested until July 1.
Fresh waters: Salmon
The Anchor River chinooks are continuing their comeback. On June 14, 318 kings were counted by the weir bringing the rivers total to 4,965 for the season so far. You can follow the count online at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/sf/FishCounts.
All Eastside Cook Inlet beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit remain closed to all clams and mussels through Dec. 31.
A series of good clamming tides started June 14 and will run through Saturday.
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.
Boaters should use caution and common sense before traveling across the inlet because of strong currents. Checking the latest weather forecast is a must too lest you find yourself paddling ashore near the docks at Kodiak Harbor.
Littleneck (steamer) and butter clams can be found in gravel beaches on the south side of Kachemak Bay from Seldovia to Chugachik Island.
Bunches of butter clams can be found on the islands in China Poot Bay and will bed down up to two feet deep.
Littleneck clams can be found in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove and are a bit lazier when it comes to hiding. Try looking for them in the shallower substrate, up to eight inches deep.
All shrimp and crab fisheries in Kachemak Bay remain closed for 2015.
Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any tales, tips or questionable fishing techniques that you’d like to disclose.