Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Hints from Nick on catchin’ cohos

Silvers loathe direct sunlight and are spooked by shadows

Now that the silvers have started showing up to make some serious noise at the Ye Ole Fishing Hole, I’ve started to receive emails requesting different suggestions on how to turn them into table fare.

Several of you came across as spittle-spittin’ peeved that, when the tide is out, they cruise around inside, disregarding your beyond-primo baits and overhyped metal lures while mooning the public during aerobatic surface breaches.

No one mentioned in their missive about what time of day or what the weather conditions were when they were flogging the water.

Silvers loathe direct sunlight and are spooked by shadows. So, fishing in a confined area such as the pond while Sol is hammering the surface lowers your odds of getting a legal hookup to the same status as trapping beaver in the Sahara.

You’ll have a much better chance getting into them at the yawn of dawn or during the eve’s stretching shadows, although cool weather, accompanied by overcast skies, will increase your chances of getting strikes throughout the day.

Note: Obviously, the previous recommendations do not concern the line snaggers who harass passing schools with their obnoxious, bait-free, nail ‘em anyway ya can, bare-hook techniques that spook the confined fish for ethical anglers.

As for the emails inquiring as to what kind of set up usually works better on the coho? First of all, silvers can be persnickety jerks, so you may have to try a few different approaches to discover what’s on their menu for the day.

Normally, they are huge fans of cured eggs. If you are working the tide change outs, cast at an angle into the flow of the incoming or outgoing flood. Add some split shot about a foot to 18 inches up from a modest offering of roe and throw into the moving water along with the other fin fanatics thrashing the stream. To bobber or not to bobber. Your choice. If the water is moving, make sure you have enough weight to reach down to the fish.

If the coho get uppity and respond to your offering like they’d rather log frequent flyer miles riding in the talons of a ravenous eagle than touch’n what you’re tossin’, give plug-cut herring a try using the same method.

These tactics should work along the shoreline too, and can be enhanced via a cup holder-enhanced camping chair. If not, give flashy silver lures a shot such as a #3 Vibrax. Try different body colors (orange, red, blue, tiger striped). Remember, the secret to getting strikes with these lures is your retriever speeds and hesitations.

Time now for the fishing report for Aug. 2.

Freshwater Fishing

The upper sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek, and the Ninilchik River opened to fishing for Dolly Varden and steelhead on August 1. There’s a decent number of dollies upstream of the south fork weir on the Anchor River.

Using beads pegged under a small bobber is the most popular way to target these fish, but spoons, nymphs, small spinners, and occasionally dry flies, also work.

The lower sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek and the Ninilchik River are open to sport fishing. There are a modest number of dollies, pinks, and sockeye to target. So far, very few silvers or steelhead have begun to run the streams.

Humpies are gradually starting to arrive to lower Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay streams. Humpy Creek is probably the best option because, even if they’re wicked stupid, they’ll still have a thing about anything named after them.

Saltwater Fishing


Halibut fishing was just fair last week due to a mix of weather conditions that restricted access to some offshore locations. The larger tides were also a challenge.

King Salmon

Trolling for kings has continued to be a roll of questionable dice resulting in lame payoffs with the fish scattered throughout Kachemak Bay, Cook Inlet and Bluff Point.

If you are trying for chinook at locations with an abundance of pink salmon, why? Still determined? Then troll deeper than the humps with spoons because those single brain cells with fins will empty your bait box faster than price increases for a Kobe prime rib eye in a Manhattan Steakhouse.

Sockeye Salmon

There are still a sizeable number of reds in China Poot Lagoon. Dipnetting in the fresh waters of China Poot Creek and snagging in the salt near the creek’s mouth has been filling coolers.

Anglers have been snagging pinks and reds within Tutka Lagoon. It’s rumored that the humpy whacks are unintentional but they just keep getting in the way. Sure, they do.

Coho Salmon

As mentioned previously, there was a nice herd of coho roaming the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon earlier in the week. If the remaining silvers aren’t biting cured roe or herring under a bobber, try one of those grab bag spinners you bought at a garage sale. If they don’t work, either you got hosed or you are just killing time in the hot sun waiting for parboiled coho to wash up. Hit the hole before the rays slam down on the lagoon.

Last week, marine weather limited anglers desiring to chase silvers at offshore locations, but trolling off the tip of the Homer Spit generated some takedowns.

Note: Very few coho have entered the lower Kenai Peninsula roadside streams so far.

Youth Fishing

On Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., a portion of the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon will be reserved for youth anglers age 15 and younger. Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) staff will be present from 9 a.m. to 11a.m. with loaner rods and tackle and will assist youth anglers with fishing for coho salmon. Loaner fishing rods will be available to check out and use on a first-come first-served basis.

Anglers 16 years and older may not fish in the posted area across from the mouth, but the remainder of the lagoon will remain open to all anglers. All other sport fishing regulations remain in effect for the fishing lagoon and are found on page 74 of the 2022 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary Booklet. The bag and possession limits are six coho salmon of any size.

Emergency Orders

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 if he isn’t preoccupied trying to master a possessed laptop that not only talks back but has outrageous demands such as basic operator competence and knocking off the coarse expletives that are starting to really piss her off.

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