Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Smoky days didn’t stop Nick from catching some righteous cohos

Last week was a bit wild with the fire flare ups, road closures and hanging smoke.

Until the winds finally showed up, the inside of our cabin smelled like we had our heads hanging over dead coals in the wood stove. The outside atmosphere was worse.

Note: Maybe the recent heat got to me, but has anyone else noticed that we have a lack of song birds and other little tweeters around the area lately? Is it normal migration or did some of them jet south to the Death Valley to cool off and catch a breath of fresh air?

On the positive side, my silver, 3-red-dot, Z-Ray struck gold with the coho at a double pinky swear, super-secret site a friend of mine frequents near the mouth of a river when we hit it at the yawn of dawn. Those fighters tumbled across the surf like aerial acrobats in the Cirque du Soleil.

It wasn’t just me having fun. Several hot-stick boats in our local charter fleet continued to flash wicked coho catches, with a few kings thrown in, on their Facebook pages while others featured hefty flats and/or pics of a plethora of assorted rockfish.

I spotted one lingcod being tossed onto a harbor cleaning table that looked like it had swallowed someone’s comfort pony.

At another cleaning area, while watching a couple whacking to pieces what used to be a perfect specimen of a 30-pound halibut, a not-so-sober gentleman sauntered up and asked what I thought of his friends’ fish.

I told him that I couldn’t tell anymore because it looked like they were using an exceptionally rare fish processing technique known to produce the same results as a blunt bladed, industrial wood chipper.

He said I should give them a break because they were three fingers short of finishing off a bottle of Kentucky Deluxe.

I said that I if they kept wielding their knives like that, they’d end up three fingers short without the bourbon and suggested using a designated filleter the next time around.

As he watched them continue to turn their fish into something resembling a tub of Malt O Meal, the gent mumbled “Point taken” and ambled in angles back to their campsite. Jeez.

OK, it’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of Aug. 20 – 26.

Personal Use

The Kachemak Bay Personal Use Coho Salmon Gillnet Fishery opened for Alaska residents on Aug. 19. Open periods are 6 a.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Saturday. The fishery closes when 1,000 – 2,000 coho salmon have been harvested. Permits are available at the Homer Alaska Department of Fish and Game office until the fishery closes.

Freshwater Fishing

Dolly Varden fishing in the upstream sections of Anchor and Ninilchik rivers, and Deep Creek has been passable.

The water conditions remain really low but the visibility is remarkable. Scan for schools of dollies in the deeper pools. Flip some dry flies and bead-headed nymphs for uppity fish that won’t pay attention to just beads.

There are a decent number of silvers in the lower portions of the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers, and Deep Creek. Fishing has been so-so to fair with rookie fish continuing to show up.

Floating eggs under a bobber just prior to and at the break of day will give you a good shot at nailing some coho.

Saltwater Fishing

Salmon

Fishing for silvers in the Nick Dudiak Lagoon kicked down to near life support status when the previously mentioned nets went in, but there are still some mesh dodgers being caught on salmon eggs during the changing tides. Hopefully, there will be some late arrivals after the gill sets catch their allotted take.

Trolling near the Homer Spit is still yielding silver action along with a few blackmouths.

Silver and king fishing remains a crap shoot throughout the rest of Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet with various success ratios at Point Pogibshi, the south side of the bay, and out at Silver Ridge.

Halibut

Halibut are still being hauled in closer to the Spit and within the inner bay, but most of the righteous slams are happening in the outer Kachemak Bay areas and beyond.

Explore a bit and drift until you run into some significant hits before you set the hook. Don’t forget the old reliable chum bag because it will normally get the greedy gluttons’ juices flowing.

A seriously deceased herring on a circle hook is customarily the most reliable ‘but slayer. Jigs also work well if you get tired of dragging an empty hook and various weights out of 200-plus feet of the salty.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Lingcod and nonpelagic rockfish stalkers continue to cruise well outside of Kachemak Bay for frequent good hunting. Drift over rocky pinnacles while using jigs if you are looking for meaningful hookup with a dashingly handsome ling.

Black rockfish can be caught by jigging and trolling near prominent points of land, with larger fish and more consistent fishing near Point Pogibshi and beyond.

Emergency Orders

Emergency Order 2-RCL-7-01-19 and 2-RCL-7-02-19 closed all east side 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.

For additional information, please contact the Alaska Department of Fish and GameHomer office at 907-235-8191.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t still sulking over the loss of his last Z-ray to some mutant scaly beast beneath the waves that he never got a look at.


• By Nick Varney, for the Homer News


More in Life

Kachemak Cuisine: Celebrate the Fourth Alaska style — with salmon

We don’t usually do things in the traditional manner up here on July 4.

Rhubarb pairs well with sweet fruit like strawberries, and work well in desserts like strawberry rhubarb crumble, June 1, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
                                Rhubarb pairs well with sweet fruit like strawberries, and work well in desserts like strawberry rhubarb crumble, June 1, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Bottom-of-the-freezer berry crumble

I’m convinced it’s impossible to mess this one up.

A campfire can be seen at the Quartz Creek Campground in Cooper Landing, Alaska, in May 2020. (Clarion staff)
‘Real’ camping

For those not familiar with it, “glamping” is glamorous camping.

Bacon is prepared on a fire pit, June 19, 2020, in the Copper River Valley, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Eating from fire

My attitude toward camp cooking is that you can eat pretty much anything you would eat at home.

Irene Lampe dances a robe for its First Dance ceremony at the Sealaska Heritage Institute on Monday, June 22, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Annie Bartholomew)
Weavers celebrate new robe with first dance

The event is part of a resurgent trend for traditional weaving.

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Summer traditions

Over the years, a paella feed has marked momentous occasions, like moving or birthday parties.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Looking in the rearview mirror

I stepped through a time warp last week.

Concert on Your Lawn revives spirit of KBBI festival

The concert came about after the pandemic forced KBBI to cancel a planned Solstice weekend concert.

Minister’s Message: Finding hope in dark times

A life lived without hope is like a life lived without love.

Morel pasta is enjoyed outside on May 19, 2019, near Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kalifornsky Kitchen: Morels all the ways

When the Swan Lake Fire started, we knew we had an opportunity to get even more morels.

This portrait—one of few that Richard Shackelford reportedly allowed to be published—graced the 1909 commencement booklet for the California Polytechnic School, of which he was the president of the Board of Trustees. (Photo courtesy Clark Fair)
A tale of Two Shacklefords, in a way — part three

Untangling the origins of Shackleford Creek’s name.