Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Chinooks starting to hit at Fishin’ Hole

The best is yet to come, if you know what you’re doing.

Last week I reported that the Fishing Hole’s chinook run had been about as productive as surface trolling from a ferry in high seas off of Kodiak — or, at least something like that.

Well, just a couple of days later, things changed after a series of beefy tides pushed in bringing several schools of blackmouth with them.

Easy now, don’t herniate yourself trying to lunge into your XTRATUFs while grabbing a rod and some bait just to jet out there. That would be inappropriate, especially if you’re attending a wedding or in the middle of a surgical procedure, so slow your roll. The best is yet to come, if you know what you’re doing.

On the down side, one can always tell when the official run has started because the thieving seals show up along with the lame dipsticks who crawl out of their dank root cellars caressing tight-lining snagging gear.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually have empathy for the scofflaws. It’s sad to watch those titans of blatant incompetence as they struggle to bring in a fish backwards and then quickly haul it to their rig because they lack the intellectual wherewithal to read and understand the regulations, much less record the fish or count to two.

The fish being caught, so far, are somewhat small, averaging around 5 to 9 pounds with some nice ones tipping 13 or more.

Others are diminutive dudes and qualify as jack salmon (20 inches or under). They all taste good, but remember a jack counts toward your daily limit of two kings although they don’t need to be recorded.

Now it’s time to look at the fishing report for week of June 4 – June 10.

Freshwater Fishing

The Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River open to sport fishing on Saturday, June 8 through Monday, June 10.

Expect fishing to be fair to good on the Anchor and Ninilchik Rivers if water conditions remain low. Deep Creek water levels have been dropping and clearing up and should also fish well this weekend. Large tides could bring good pulses of fish into the streams on the incoming tide. Try fishing at the mouth a few hours before high slack, or a bit further up the river at high tide and just after. Chartreuse and hot pink spinners, spoons and spin and glows are likely to have the best results.

Expect fair success for the June 5 youth-only fishery on the Ninilchik River.

Remember Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River have sport fishing — including fishing gear — restrictions in effect right now. Check out the corresponding emergency order number in the last part of this report.

Note: The Anchor River run continues to look healthier. As of June 3, 1,136 fish have passed through the counter. On June 3 of last year, only 143 had made the journey and on the same date of 2017, 1,205 passed through.

Saltwater Fishing

King Salmon

As mentioned earlier, schools of chinook salmon are continuing to show up at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon. Fishing has been fair to good early in the morning.

Try different kinds of scented salmon roe beneath a bobber. Plug-cut herring and chunks of mackerel are also working well when offered the same way. Don’t set the bait too deep. Keep an eye on who is being successful and at what depth they have their lure.

If you enjoy spinning, the old standby size No. 5 Blue Fox Super Vibrax spinner is tough to beat. Remember, retrieve these puppies slow to get the best “thump” attraction.

Try fishing the lagoon as the tide floods in, or fish just outside of the pond as the tide begins to ebb out.

Trolling for king salmon has been slow in both Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet over the last week, with scattered reports of good fishing near Bear Cove and in the inlet north of Anchor Point.

Trolling with small herring or thin blade spoons behind a flasher has been a winning technique.


Halibut fishing has been good, with consistent results in offshore locations 20-30 miles west of the Homer Harbor and west of Anchor Point. Sampled sizes over the weekend were above average, with a 110-pounder sampled in the Homer Harbor on Saturday.

When exploring new areas for halibut, try drifting to locate concentrations of the flats before anchoring.

Herring on a circle hook is the most popular bait; however, octopus, salmon heads, and jigs will fire up their appetite.


Clamming tides are June 4 – June 6.

Razor clams can be found on beaches along the west side of Cook Inlet and can be accessed by boat or plane. Popular razor clam beaches include the Polly Creek beach, Crescent River Bar and Chinitna Bay. Boaters are advised to use caution before traveling across the Cook Inlet because of strong tidal currents and variable weather conditions.

Littleneck clams can be found in a variety of habitats from Jakolof Bay to Bear Cove. Typically, littleneck clams are found shallower in the substrate, up to eight inches deep.

Emergency Orders

Emergency Order 2-RCL-7-01-19 and 2-RCL-7-02-19 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 for 2019.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-11-19 limited the fishing season on the Anchor River June 8-10, 2019.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-12-19 restricted fishing gear to only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River through July 15.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-13-19 reduced the king salmon bag and possession limits in the Ninilchik River to one hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater in length.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-14-19 combined the annual limit for king salmon to two king salmon 20 inches or greater in length from the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River and all marine waters south of the latitude of the mouth of the Ninilchik River to the latitude of Bluff Point.

Nick can be reached at when he isn’t still busy consoling the mayor of the fishing hole, Tom, for his loss of up to 70 yards of line firmly nailed inside a “big hog” when a #^*+!%(@ seal scarfed up his prize after a 20-minute battle. I told you they were thieves.

• By NICK VARNEY, For the Homer News

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