Reeling ‘Em In: Nick wraps up his summer fishing column

Reeling ‘Em In: Nick wraps up his summer fishing column

It was a short, strange, summer but it looks like the season for doubling the layers of my rain gear has finally arrived. Soon the small puddles in the yard will grow to where they’ll experience tidal fluctuations. Ernie, our wood pile weasel, will be foraging through storm blasted alders stalking clueless rodents that think they’ve attained the safety of high ground only to discover the meaning of a “quick snack.”

River fishing is going to be tougher as the fronts blow through, accompanied by deluges temporarily rising water levels and mucking up the rivers’ clarity, but those too shall pass and the steelhead will roll in to fire things up. How so? Well, any knowledgeable stalker of this magnificent beast knows that, once a rainbow returns from the ocean and has transfigured into a steelhead, you have a turbocharged fish with the serious horsepower to rip lines and launch toward the ionosphere. OK, that was a bit much, but they are one hell of a water warrior.

Steelies take high flying aerobatics to a stunning level of brawling frenzy that my friends and family have always honored with its liberation back into the wild no matter where the battle was fought and/or release requirement required. If you have a bucket list for fishing, make sure they are on it.

It’s time now to take a look at the fishing report for the week of Sept. 1–7 and the last of the season.

Freshwater Fishing


Coho fishing has been keeping the scorekeeper busy in the lower section of the Anchor River. Activity may gear down a bit if the river rises after the forthcoming series of storms move through, but just have patience.

The use of bait was prohibited after Sept. 1, but spinners and flies will still entice strikes once things quiet to the point where you can identify the holes and eddies and your prey can discern what you’re flinging.

Dolly Varden

Dolly fishing on the lower Kenai Peninsula roadside streams including the Anchor River remained fair with the best action dependent on the fluctuation of the stream levels. Beads normally work the best, but give the other benchwarmers in your tackle box a crack at provoking an attack such as miniature spinners and spoons, along with succulent looking flies.


Update and tips: A few steelhead have been caught in the lower Anchor by anglers targeting silvers.

Getting a persnickety steelhead to bite is righteously tough, but you can get their attention with beads, jigs and plugs.

Steelhead have a thing for a cool looking dead drift, as well as the colors pink and purple.

Note: Dead Drifting just means letting the current control the presentation, not the fisherman or the line. You don’t strip, twitch, or add any sort of movement to the lure and the line isn’t altering the bait’s drift. Simply put, it’s just going with the flow.

A jig under a bobber is one of the easiest ways to start steelhead fishing. Swinging flies is also effective. Anchor River steelhead counts are now available on the Fish Counts webpage — only 28 have been counted so far, so it’s still a bit early.

Saltwater Fishing


Conking halibut has continued to be excellent near the mouth of Kachemak Bay, Cook Inlet, and around the corner from Point Pogibshi.

If you don’t have a boat, there’s some very fine charters available in Homer, Anchor Point and Ninilchik.

Note: After this holiday weekend, some of the charters will be closing shop for the year, so be sure to check around for availability as the month flies by.


Believe it or not, there have been reports of excellent king catches in locations near the mouth of Kachemak Bay. Fishing with herring behind a flasher is a good hammer, but fishing with spoons is also a sound bet for fall trolling out of Homer.

Continuing to disappoint, trolling for coho remains somewhat sea slug slow in K-Bay and Cook Inlet. The best silver hunting territory has been at the mouth of Cook Inlet near Point Adam and along the Chugach Islands.

For anyone still paying attention, the coho run in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon has timed out with only confused dawdlers poking around and they are as rare as wild bison on Bishop’s Beach.

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-7-03-20 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.

Now, before we shut down for the year, we’d like to express a very special thank you to Mike B. and the great professionals at our local Alaska Department of Fish and Game Office, plus Kali H., the Regional Information Officer in Anchorage, for their timely updates, excellent assistance and super sense of humor. Without them, it would have been impossible to offer the breadth of coverage we were able to provide.

Of course, we cannot pull the plug without mentioning how much we appreciated the avalanche of timely and accurate information provided to our team by the unsanctioned but honorary Mayor of the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon, piscatorian savant, king of the kings and all-around great guy, Tom, aka, Big “T.”

A very special thanks also to Lou, Willie, Turk, Terri and a multitude of others for their tips and tales throughout the summer.

Also, we deeply appreciate those of you who took the time to email us to express your love for our state, Homer, and how you are planning to return as soon as possible after the pandemic recedes. We are looking forward to it.

One final note: I want to express my loving gratitude to my wonderful wife, Jane, who proofreads the column and offers suggestions to keep the word police from storming the cabin and/or my editor, Michael, from having to chug a bottle of extra strength Pepto-Bismol every time he opens one of my submissions.

Now it’s time to chill the keyboard and head out to where the silvers and steelhead lurk in highly classified haunts.

Hey, it’s far from over. I’m sure there will still be a closing surge of northern visitors this weekend because the streams still hold greedy dollies, the flash of silvers, and steelhead looking for a cage fight. Weather permitting, those halibut and sea cruising salmon wouldn’t mind an end-of-season fracas either, so batten down the hatches and enjoy the good times, until we can’t.

Nick can be reached at

More in Sports

Kenai Central's Karley Harden attacks the Nikiski net Thursday, April 15, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Central soccer sweeps Nikiski

After waiting two years due to the coronavirus pandemic and a few… Continue reading

StoryWalk along the Keen-Eye Trail. (Photo by Michelle Ostrowski/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Read a book, spend time in nature with StoryWalk

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The… Continue reading

Thursday, March 18, 2021, file photo shows syringes filled with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a pop up site in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Tangled Up in Blue: Second dose

A few weeks removed from my second dose of the Moderna COVID-19… Continue reading

Caleb O'Hara works to a major decision of Kenai Central's Talon Whicker at 125 pounds Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Matchups for area wrestlers continue

Kenai Peninsula wrestlers Tuesday continued with a series of meets designed to… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears defenseman Shayne Monahan controls the puck early in the third period as 1,113 fans watch Friday, March 24, 2017, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Spectator limit at sports complex drops to 250

Brown Bears move pair of games back to May

The Kenai Central high school cheerleading team. Back row, left to right: Karley Harden, Nia Calvert, Katie Stockton, Rileigh Pace and Kyrie Medina. Middle row: Karah Huff, Melena Grieme, Calani Holmes and Maya Montague. Front row: Emmalee Roney, Kaitlyn Taylor and Kori Moore. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Beddow of BeKaptured Photography)
Kenai cheerleaders nab Division II state title

The Kenai Central cheerleading team won the Division II March Madness state… Continue reading

Lydia Jacoby celebrates her commitment to the University of Texas in Seward recently. (Photo by Leslie Jacoby)
Seward’s Jacoby takes 2nd to Olympic champion

Seward junior Lydia Jacoby, 17, set a new personal record in finishing… Continue reading

Soldotna's Ezekiel Miller controls Kenai Central's Owen Whicker at 130 pounds Friday, April 9, 2021, at Soldotna High School in Soldotna, Alaska. Miller won by major decision, 11-1. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Wrestling: SoHi hosts Kenai; Nikiski hosts Seward, Homer

Kenai Peninsula wrestlers continued to compete in unscored dual meets Friday. The… Continue reading

AJ LaMonda
Oilers get ready for season with new GM

The Peninsula Oilers, after taking the summer of 2020 off due to… Continue reading

Most Read