Unhinged Alaska: Humpbacks and minke and orcas! Oh my!

Homer claims to be the “Halibut Capital of the World” but if things keep up it may add serious whale watching to the menu of cool stuff to do.

We’ve always had some whales hanging around the bay part of the year but, at this moment, the main fleet is in and has been for awhile.

Humpbacks, minke and orcas are cruising around Kachemak Bay and off the end of the Homer Spit in such numbers that it looks like a major geyser event in Yellowstone National Park.

Some Dall’s porpoises even blew through in a rare late season appearance around the end of September.

If you are not quite sure what Dall’s look like, visualize small killer whale posers that love munching on schools of pint sized bait fish and playing around the bow of boats while trying to look tough.

As I write this, spouts are exploding everywhere and those beautiful high tail dives are as common as mini Snickers in a kid’s Halloween stash.

There’s so much blubber in the bay it looks like a synchronized sumo swim team cruising through the sea waters.

Old timers around our hamlet-of-the-peculiar can’t recall such a large and dazzling flotilla of fat and founts off our shores. And, as of last Friday, it continued to be a hell of a visual ride as we watched more blow hole blasts from our cabin’s deck.

Most of the activity ranges along the south side of the bay but when the tides roll in, the pods move closer and it gets tough to find a place at the tip of the spit to watch the show from the comfort of your beater.

If it really gets rocking, there are more field glasses, spotting scopes, and iPhones stationed along the shore than the championship game at a nude beach volleyball tournament.

Now don’t get excited and go all Captain Ahab about the situation down here by rushing toward K Bay. Sometimes the critters are very distant after they backstroke off to check out the seafood buffets elsewhere in the area.

Days with small craft warnings and heavy rains a fish could swim through aren’t worth the trip either. You would have better luck hoping for the Chicago Cubs to win a protest that they were so stunned to be in the playoffs that they weren’t mentally prepared and should be awarded a redo.            

As a side note, the whales have also seemed to have sparked an unusual fishery, again off of the end of the spit.

As you know, Kachemak Bay is somewhat famous for its winter king fishing and there are multiple feeding areas where they seem to congregate.

It keeps guys like me from withdrawal symptoms associated with not having a line in the water at least a couple of times a month during the fall and winter doldrums.

I won’t go into the exact details of those symptoms but I know they are dire when my bride hands me an old bag of freezer burned bait herring and gear then solemnly points toward the bay’s shoreline and mouths, “Go.”

This fall, thanks to the whales, no warning signs have manifested themselves such as trying to hold meaningful conversations with my tackle boxes.

Several weeks ago I noted an unusual amount of kayaks and small boats circling just off the land’s end. It didn’t take five minutes until I realized what was going on. They were trolling for and nailing kings within a stone’s throw of my Xtra Tuffs! It was all over when a salmon went flying out of the water not thirty feet from my belt buckle. The hunt was on.

I’m not sure if my bride has yet to recover from the front door nearly coming unhinged as her fired up spouse, sporting ten year old eyes, blew into the cabin ranting about kings as he thundered into the basement.

She managed to block my subsequent exit long enough to get an explanation for my zeal and calmly suggested that it might behoove me to include a pole in all of the piscatorial battle gear I was hauling out to the truck. I wish we both had remembered the bait.

I hope those pods of feeding humpbacks stick around a bit longer. They need to keep pushing schools of chinooks my way and into the smoker that has mysteriously appeared from the depths of the cellar.

Come to think of it, I don’t really care. Just being out there whale watching and waiting for my bobber to go down is like the holiday season has arrived already.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t contentedly ensconced in his deluxe on-shore fishing chair somewhere on the Homer Spit.

More in Life

Homer writer Richard Chiappone. (Photo by Joshua Veldstra)
‘Hunger of Crows’ perfect for winter reading

Chiappone’s first novel is set in Homer, Anchor Point.

Fresh dinner rolls made without the addition of dairy. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Baking for everyone

Dinner rolls skip the dairy, but not the flavor

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: ‘Tis the Season

The Kenai Community Library has always been one of the stars in the crown of the community.

Homer News Ben Mitchell, left, serves spaghetti to helper Pat Wells in the kitchen at a past Share the Spirit spaghetti feed. (Michael Armstrong/Homer News file)
Looking to share some holiday spirit? Here’s how

Share the Spirit serves the Homer community by donating food, essential needs and Christmas presents.

Appease your child’s picky palate with these tasty Tater Tots. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Tots to be thankful for

Two years ago, I spent the entirety of Thanksgiving Day in my green rocking chair, cradling my newborn son.

File
Minister’s Message: Keep in step

Sometimes it takes going half way around the world to learn how to “keep in step” as I journey.

Shelli and Mike Gordon pose in October 2011 at their Halibut Cove, Alaska, home in an Alaska Gothic version of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting. (Photo courtesy of Mike Gordon)
‘Dagnabit’ features tales of ’80s wild Alaska

Gordon’s second book also tells of Ruben Gaines, creator of Chilkoot Charlie.

Before boiling, this handmade pasta is rolled, cut and tossed in flour to keep from sticking. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Pasta by hand

Learning one of the most important task of the Italian kitchen: making the pasta.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
The Great Thanksgiving dessert debate

Our holiday gathering is going to be smaller than it sometimes is, and it was argued that we didn’t need two desserts.

Dianne Spence-Chorman’s “Fig Study” is one of the works showing in the Homer Council on the Arts “Fun wtih 5x7” show through Dec. 22, 2021, at the gallery in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Fun with 5×7’ offers affordable art

HCOA annual art show presents art in a variety of media, all in 5x7 format.

Make pumpkin chocolate chip with cinnamon buttercream cupcakes for a decadent fall treat. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: In honor of ‘Cupcake Mondays’

Pumpkin chocolate chip with cinnamon buttercream cupcakes brighten up the dreariest of work.

Nick Varney
Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Back off, Zeus

If this wet-n-warm, freeze, then start again, continues much longer, Kachemak Drive will need a complete redo.