Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Nick offers tips on how to fillet a silver

Its always great to receive emails from our out-of-state visitors, especially when it’s their first trip to Homer and they are trying to get some insight into our infamous fishing lagoon.

We were happy to offer some sound suggestions on how to get into a fight with the returning fish and the feedback has been wicked sweet. Thank you.

One request was overlooked unfortunately, but will be remedied in the next few paragraphs.

We never published our annual checklist on how to fillet those beauties without turning them into something resembling a small section of landfill.

The best way to approach the technique is to have someone teach you who knows what they are doing and hasn’t just returned from a two hour visit with Jack from a bottle.

Note: If you have access to the internet just Google, “How to fillet a salmon” and review the videos until you find the approach that you’ll feel comfortable with, then make your own checklist and go for it. Or, just use the following.

Once the fish has been cleaned (keep the head on), lay the fish with its back toward you and near enough that you can firmly grasp it. This will decrease the possibly of slippage during the routine, resulting in the inopportune removal of an affiliation tattoo from an adjacent biker filleting his fish with a bayonet.

Start just behind the head and cut toward the tail with the knife blade in contact with the spinal column. Cut at a slight incline to glean as much meat as possible from along the back. Continue to smoothly and coolly slice through the ribs until you reach the tail. Place the finished fillet aside and watch all eyes turn toward you in stunned wonderment.

Note: If there is hysterical laughter or power hurling, you may be doing something basically wrong such as carving with the backside of your knife,

After completing the filleting on one side, flip the fish over. Begin at the tail and perform the same process by cutting from the tail toward the head. Take care to cut around the dorsal fin and then continue carving until you’ve reached the head. Voila! Another awesome slice of heaven.

Now remove rib bones. Start by sliding the fillet knife lightly between the rib bones and the flesh. Keep the fillet knife as close to the ribs as possible to make sure that you won’t slice off more meat than you could serve as an entrée. Once the ribs have been removed, trim the fillet to remove any fat or anything else that disgusts you.

If you are really a perfectionist, you can now remove the bones that were cut through during the filleting process. Use a small pair of needle nose pliers and/or someone with better eyes to pull the bones out of the flesh. I prefer doing it during the consumption phase, sans pliers, of course.

I know, I know. There’s a multitude of ways to fillet salmon. This was just a simple one to keep you from ending up with a product resembling the remains of a decomposing alien a bear would rather opt for early hibernation rather than eat.

Time now for a look at the fishing report for Aug. 16:

Freshwater Fishing

The lower sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek and the Ninilchik River remain open to sport fishing.

Good news: The coho are charging these streams daily and fishing should be decent over the next week.

Best shot? As usual, hit them in the early morning or later evening when the silvers like to get their frenzy on.

Small salmon-roe egg clusters suspended under a bobber have been a hot item so far, but spinners, spoons, plugs, herring, along with flies will pique their interest too.

The upper sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, Stariski Creek, and the Ninilchik River are open to fishing for Dolly Varden and steelhead.

The most accessible upper section is the Anchor River along the Sterling Highway and the south end of the North Fork Road. Using beads pegged under a small bobber is a great way to lure dollies, but spoons, nymphs, small spinners, and occasionally dry flies, will also work.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut

The marine weather was more favorable last week, which allowed anglers to get to offshore locations and the halibut fishing was good.

A couple of old boys I know brought in some very respectable chickens from Mud Bay last week. They usually take a short skiff ride before the tides start rippin’ and anchor near the lip of one of their holes. When the tide rolls in, so do the halibut and they pick what they want, then motor back. Nice touch? They do it with salmon rod setups and get into some great scraps.

Good news: There will be less tidal exchange this week which should give anglers more time to fish on the anchor at slack tide.

King Salmon

Trolling for kings was good over the last week with anglers nailing fish from Bear Cove, Bluff Point, Silver Ridge area, and along the outer coast.

Coho Salmon

Silver fishing in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon is winding down. Expect slowing action during the next week. If the coho aren’t biting cured roe or herring under a bobber, try a spinner. What do you have to lose other than another primo lure on a hidden snag?

Early morning, before the sun hits the water, tends to be best. Yeah, we keep telling you that, but do you listen?

Shore anglers have been slamming a few silvers along the east side of the Homer Spit at high tide. Look for fish cruising under the surface or for jumpers.

Trolling for silvers has been slow throughout Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet.

Point Pogibshi, Silver Ridge area, and Bluff Point all produced coho last week.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Most anglers targeting lingcod take a charter or have large personal boats to get to the outer coast and fish near the Chugach Islands.

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-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 unless you screwed up the filleting instructions and want to blame your wicked incompetence on him. Chill.

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