Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Check out cleaning tables for fishing action

The Spit was rockin’ last weekend

The Spit was rockin’ last weekend, even though the infamous Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon suffered serious supply chain issues when its waters were nearly stripped of chinook after a sanctioned snag-and-snatch raid by treble hook wielding bargain hunters earlier in the week.

Campgrounds spaces were jammed with motor homes and the boat harbor featured everything from wee skiffs, sporting engines small enough to mix smoothies, to rigs that could maintain a SEAL team.

Boat launch watching was its usual entertainment festival, as was cruising the various cleaning tables in the afternoon. Why the tables? Because, if you really want to know what’s hot and what’s a bust, they are a source of useful insights, served with a side order of personal stories.

Take Sunday:

I was admiring some impressive halibut that a man was butchering into cat chow, rather than filleting, when a seasoned gentleman I know pulled a couple of hefty ‘buts from his tote, which also featured some very large Pacific gray cod.

The guy took a glance at the old boy’s catch and mockingly snorted. “Good halibut, but what’s with the trash fish, dude? Future fertilizer?”

I’ve known Willie a warehouse full of years and knew what was coming. He gave the Coors-oiled fella a smokin’ look and rumbled back, “Ya know, sometimes I’d rather have a conversation with a bait bucket than answer b%^$#_&^ questions like that.” End of conversation.

If the man hadn’t been such a jerk, he might have learned something.

Pacific cod has a nice white flesh with a slightly sweet taste and is moister than halibut. It costs a lot less and keeps much better in the home freezer, especially when compared to salmon.

There is no question that halibut rule as one of the finest seafood cuisines available, but the lowly cod is right on their tail when it comes to producing delectable entrees such as awesome fish and chips.

For those who take the time to ask around, they just might end up keeping more of their varying catches and end up with a freezer full of assorted delicious fillets that professional gourmet chefs only fantasize about.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for July 5, 2022:

Freshwater Fishing

The Anchor River, Deep Creek, and the Ninilchik River remain closed to sport fishing through July 15.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

Great halibut fishing continues to hum along with an impressive number of heftier beasts being taken.

The tides will be friendly until Monday, so that will give flat hunters some quality time soaking bait on the bottom before the jet currents start to kick in and the minus tides arrive to fool with anchor time.

King Salmon

Trolling for kings continued to be a roll of the dice last week unless the fish were discovered lurking in certain areas.

Over the weekend, boat hunters hit diamonds playing for kings at Bluff Point and on the outer coast near Point Adam. Fishing was more of a siesta-time-at-sea in most other locations within Kachemak Bay.

There are still a few blackmouth being caught in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon after the short snagging opening closed. Early morning and the tide changeouts are your best shots at tying into one of the stragglers.

Chinook fishing in the Seldovia slough has slowed to nearly an afterthought but fear not. Those wunderkinds known as pink and chum salmon should start arriving soon in small numbers. Be still my heart.

Other Saltwater Fishing

There has been a plethora (big bunches) of sockeye in China Poot Lagoon. Fisherpersonages have been getting it on by both dipping in the fresh waters of China Poot Creek or snagging in the salt waters in the area.

Don’t forget that the numbers of fish available in the area fluctuate with the tides and commercial fishing openers.

Safety note: Be mindful of the ebbing tide and the southwest day breeze creating large waves as you exit the lagoon.

See page 15 of the 2022 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet for China Poot dipnet regulations and limits and page 73 for saltwater regulations and limits.

Lingcod season opened on July 1. Most anglers targeting lingcod take a charter or have large personal boats to get to the outer coast and fish near the Chugach Islands.

Look for nice minus tides for clamming in west Cook Inlet next week. Charters are available in the Ninilchik area for boat access to the Polly Creek and Crescent River Bar areas. An impressive number of medium to large clams can be found in both locations.

Reminder: All eastside Cook Inlet beaches are closed to clamming in 2022. See the emergency orders below for more info.

Emergency Orders

Please review the emergency orders and advisory announcements below in their entirety before heading out on your next fishing trip.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-29-22 closed all sport fishing in the Ninilchik River through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 15, 2022.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-28-22 closed king salmon fishing north of Bluff Point in all Cook Inlet saltwaters through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 15, 2022.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-24-22 closed all sport fishing in Deep Creek and the Anchor River through 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 15, 2022.

Emergency Order 2-RCL-7-01-22 and 2-RCL-7-02-22 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 in 2022.

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com if he isn’t trying to find his guaranteed, voodoo powered, humpy repelling bobber.

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