Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Kings still around at fishing hole while silvers not yet here

The weather was phenomenal over the Fourth of July weekend.

Visitors, as well as locals, seemed to enjoy barbecuing themselves along with the goodies they were flipping on the grill.

By late afternoon, more than a few of the sol worshipers were sporting sunburns rivaling the brake lights of a ’59 Caddy. Such woes made social distancing a given and anything close to a backslap provoked an anguished response detailing exactly how the recipient was about to react and that their actions would be vigorously defended as justifiable homicide.

My vet buddy Turk was in awe after making a J-4 round trip to the spit. He called, ranting that the only way he was going back was via a drone recon until “the Covid caravans cleared out.”

Note: I have received some inquiries about the king run in the Anchor River. Not good folks. As of July 5 , only 2,505 Chinook had made the count. Last year, on the same date, 5,077 rolled through.

As for last week’s snagarama, The Hole’s mayor, Tom, reported that things went pretty well with most of the lead lobbers behaving themselves. Unfortunately, there were a few miscreants who snagged fish, then dragged them half way up the beachfront before ripping out the hooks and kicking them back into the water. These anglers are known as Unadulterated Jerks and deserve a triple EEE, size 14, logging boot permanently implanted in their keisters.

The sportspersonages who nailed silver-side jacks and claimed they were Coho are known as The Severely Clueless and should be tested on the contents of pages 90-91of the Southcentral Alaska Sports Fishing Regulations Summary before being allowed anywhere near a rod. If they were doing it to avoid the two-king limit, they deserve the leftover boot.

Tom estimated that, during the opening, 400-500 fish were taken, of which about 15% or more were jacks. He estimated about 60% were maroon fish, less than 10% bright, and the remaining kings somewhat blushed.

Time now to move on to the fishing report for the week of July 7 – July 13 and later, with some information from the Northern Kenai.

Freshwater Fishing

King Salmon

The Ninilchik River remains open for hatchery kings only. Better get after them because the run will probably be gearing down during the coming week. Your best crack at tying into ripple cruisers is during the early morning hours as the fish start their upstream advance.

Sockeye Salmon

China Poot personal use dipnetting was off like a rocket last week but has since fizzled a bit. Never fear, the reds should continue to arrive at the creek over the next week.

Saltwater Fishing


Halibut fishing has remained steady and fair around inshore locations and downright decent in offshore areas at the mouth of Kachemak Bay. Nice slabs have slammed the holds in both areas.

King Salmon

The king run at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is pretty much belly up. Don’t despair — there are still a few fresh stragglers if you don’t mind sharing the back half of them with seals.

Hopefully, things should fire up shortly when the silvers decide to stage their aerobatic debuts within the next week or two.

Trolling for Chinooks was fair to enjoyable around Kachemak Bay.

Here’s a biggie. Brain stems with fins, also known as pinks, are starting to waste perfectly good bait around outer bay locations such as Point Pogibshi. If you are still looking to nab some blackmouths, drop your gear to lower depths to try and avoid the sushi rejects.

Most anglers use downriggers and hunt with troll-sized herring or spoons behind flashers. A shiny bottle cap attached to parachute cord will do fine for attracting a humpy.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Sockeye continue to make appearances near Tutka Bay Lagoon and China Poot Bay. Fin chasers have been having reasonable luck snagging the reds.

If you would like to try some “grab bag” fishing, flip a line off the end of the Homer Spit. There are fish lurking out there such as walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Dolly Varden, a multiplicity of flatfish plus the sporadic disorientated salmon. It is also rumored that there are creatures that will play dead until you throw them into your game bucket and then devour everything in it before making a break for the sea.

Now, a refresher on Emergency Orders:

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-21-20 restricted gear in the Ninilchik River to one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure from through Wednesday, July 15, and removed the annual limit for hatchery king salmon 20 inches or greater through Saturday, October 31.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-16-20 closed king salmon fishing within one mile of shore north of Bluff Point through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 15.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-15-20 closed the Anchor River and Deep Creek drainages to all sport fishing through 11:59 p.m. July 15.

Emergency Order 2-KS-7-05-20 reduced the king salmon annual limit north of Bluff Point from five to two fish through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, July 15.

Emergency Order 2-RCL-7-03-20 and 2-RCL-7-04-20 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 2020.

Kenai River Personal Use Dip Net Fishery opens July 10 with no retention of king salmon.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game reminds Alaska residents the Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery opens on July 10 and continues through July 31. Because of anticipated low returns, the retention of king salmon in the Kenai River personal use fishery is prohibited. Any king salmon caught incidentally may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately unharmed. This regulatory change is effective 6 a.m. Friday, July 10 through 11 p.m. Friday, July 31.

On June 15, Fish and Game issued a regulation restriction prohibiting the use of bait and the retention of king salmon that are 34 inches or greater in length on the Kenai River effective July 1 from its mouth upstream to a Fish and Game regulatory marker located approximately 300 yards downstream from the mouth of Slikok Creek. Per the Kenai River Late-Run King Salmon Management Plan, the retention of king salmon in the personal use fishery is prohibited, if bait is prohibited in the Kenai River sport fishery. Restrictions were also implemented on the commercial fisheries per the management plan.

“The 2020 king salmon runs throughout Cook Inlet have consistently and significantly underperformed Alaska Department of Fish and Game preseason forecasts resulting in restrictions and closures of in river and marine sport fisheries,” stated Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka. “ADF&G will continue to monitor the Kenai River run as it develops and additional actions may be taken depending on the run strength.”

Dipnetting on the Kenai River is allowed from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, from July 10 through July 31. An Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permit and a 2020 Alaska Sport Fishing license are required to participate. Only Alaska residents can participate. The Upper Cook Inlet Personal Use permits are available at local Fish and Game offices, vendors, and the Fish and Game online store. Please review the Kenai River Dipnet Fishery regulations on page 14 of the 2020 Southcentral Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet for the dipnet areas.

For the complete July 9 Northern Kenai Fishing Report check out

Until next week.

Nick can be reached at if he isn’t still busy researching how pinks manage to survive without a cerebrum.

More in Sports

Homer quarterback Carter Tennison tries to avoid the tackle of Kenai Central's Talon Whicker on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, at Ed Hollier Field in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Central clinches 1st playoff berth since 2015

The Kenai Central football team found out this week that it clinched… Continue reading

Kenai's Valerie Villegas receives a serve during the team's volleyball game against the Soldotna Stars on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai volleyball tops Soldotna

By JEFF HELMINIAK Peninsula Clarion The Kenai volleyball team took the win… Continue reading

A visual picture of profound change in the alpine plant community post-2019 Swan Lake Fire. This picture is from 2021, two years after the fire. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Swan Lake Fire update: How are plant communities doing?

By HEIDI HELLING Kenai National Wildlife Refuge What can we learn from… Continue reading

The afternoon sun makes birch leaves glow yellow on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at the Hidden Lake Campground in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near Sterling, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Fall in Alaska is subtle but fabulous

On my mother’s side I come from a long line of New… Continue reading

Homer netters topple Soldotna

The host Homer volleyball team defeated Soldotna 25-13, 21-25, 25-18 and 25-22… Continue reading

Colony girls, Kodiak boys swimmers win SoHi Invite

The Colony girls and Kodiak boys swimming and diving teams won the… Continue reading

Grace sweeps Frank D. Invite

The Grace Christian girls and boys cross-country teams swept the Frank D.… Continue reading

Boersma takes cyclocross race

Ben Boersma won the first race of the Chainwreck Cyclocross Series on… Continue reading

Area volleyball teams pile up experience at West Spiketacular

The Kenai Central volleyball team led the Kenai Peninsula at the West… Continue reading

Most Read