Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Reeling ‘Em In: Reds kicking it up in Tutka Bay Lagoon; silvers sneaking in at The Hole.

Fish early for silvers

Things have been overcast and occasionally rainy as of late, but that’s just fine because no one wants some misfiring brain stems mishandling a slash burn or campfire that could result in a totally different version of a neighborhood barbecue.

It’s been a welcomed and significant change from the edgy weeks where temps were set on roast and the flora was becoming so dry that just the thought of striking a match could set it off. So, it’s nice to see that the weather forecasts have things looking cool and drippy for a while.

The Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon’s coho return had been firing on a gummed-up cylinder until lately when a small push arrived, stemming the flow of whispers that we might be looking at a bigger bust than an amphitheater pan flute concert hit by a windstorm.

Big T, the fishing savant and mayor of The Hole, reports that the number of silvers have been increasing, but still estimates less than 100 fish are in the lagoon. He counted one school of 50 plus, with a few kings cruising with the pack.

Last Monday the action picked up and he nailed a bright, 11-pound coho, lost another, and whacked a dingbat pink while missing numerous bites. He blamed the blown strikes on the deranged pinks who are famous for being sloppy and uncouth feeders with the table manners of ravenous piranha.

He went on to note that some fish are being caught on the flood, but most of the action has been early morning. Herring and eggs are working fine, along with an occasional lure hook-up while flinging iron. Most of the silvers are running about 6 to 8 pounds. Unfortunately, even a small infestation of snaggers has already shown up to plague the pond’s shoreline.

Time now to take a look at the fishing report for July 19:

Freshwater Fishing

The lower sections of the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and the Ninilchik River are open to sport fishing except for the kings, of course.

The Ninilchik River is open to hatchery king salmon fishing, but the run is nearing its final curtain call with the remaining fish reaching senior citizen status quickly.

The dollies are starting to make larger debuts in these streams so, if you use fly fishing gear, give smolt patterns or beads a try. The spinning fanciers should do well tossing small spinners and spoons.

Saltwater Fishing


Halibut fishing was fair to respectable over the last week, but the marine weather kept ‘but hunters high bobbin’ on the briny for a few days with relatively rough weather pushing Dramamine stock prices up.

When things calm down somewhat, try drifting to find the halibut if you don’t already have your own secret numbers or know someone who will share theirs. Good luck with that.

King Salmon

Trolling for kings has never really slipped into high gear and the chinook continue to be scattered around the bay and Cook Inlet.

If you run across a horde of vapid pinks while hunting kings, try trolling deeper than the single brain cell fin bearers. Use spoons rather than baits because the rude little humpies are notorious bait stealers and will clean out your stash in a nano minute.

Sockeye Salmon

There have been nice herds of sockeye salmon stampeding around the China Poot Lagoon. Red seekers have had exceptional luck when it comes to dipping in the fresh waters of China Poot Creek or snagging in the salt waters of the area.

Sockeye counts fluctuate with tides and with commercial fishing openers.

As always, be heedful of the ebbing tide and the southwest day breeze creating large waves as you exit the lagoon.

Snagging within Tutka Lagoon has also been kicking it for the reds. Pink salmon should start to show up in bigger numbers soon. Oh, the shivers of excitement!

Coho Salmon

Although the coho run is off to a slow start in the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon, the previous report from the mayor is encouraging. And, hopefully, the action should pick up later on into the month and August.

Still looking for the silvers to show up in catchable numbers in offshore locations along the North Gulf coast? Hang in there.

Other Saltwater Fishing

Lingcod season opened on July 1. Most beyond-ugly fish hunters targeting lingcod take a charter or have hefty 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-KS-7-55-22 closed king salmon fishing (including catch-and-release) in all Cook Inlet salt waters north of the latitude of Bluff Point (59° 40.00’ N. lat.). This regulatory change is effective 12:01 a.m. Sunday, July 17 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 31, 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 if he isn’t preoccupied going through the operation manual for their new air fryer in hopes of preparing some fresh red fillets without another incineration incident like atomizing the Zesty fries last week.

More in Sports

Brown Bears to hold Fall Classic on Saturday

The Kenai River Brown Bears of the North American Hockey League will… Continue reading

Mineshaft Grinder gets 62 finishers

The Mineshaft Grinder in Hope, put on by the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm… Continue reading

SoHi senior finishes 3rd at Alaska State Amateur

While Anchorage’s Greg Sanders was understandably grabbing headlines for winning his 10th… Continue reading

Kenai Central junior Greg Fallon takes the lead for good at the Kenai-Soldotna dual meet Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Verdict from Kenai-SoHi dual: Nikiski trails are harder than Tsalteshi

Nice try, Anna Widman. Widman is the new Kenai Central cross-country coach… Continue reading

Homer's Jake Tappan rushes against Kodiak on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Charlie Menke/Homer News)
Mariners start season strong against Bears; Nikiski, Seward drop games

It may have been raining as the Homer football team took on… Continue reading

Hansen competes at North American Rollerski Biathlon Championships

Justin Hansen, a 2022 graduate of River City Academy, said competing at… Continue reading

Saturday prep football: Homer wins; Nikiski, Seward lose

The Nikiski football team opened its season with a 12-8 nonconference loss… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Wade James punts against Eielson on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at Buck Nystrom Field on Eielson Air Force Base. (Photo by Jeff Olsen/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)
Kenai, SoHi football start season with victories

By JEFF OLSEN Fairbanks Daily News-Miner EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE — Asked… Continue reading

Nick Varney
Reeling ‘Em In: More tips from Nick on catching silvers

Now, here are a few more suggestions on how to pop those coho tumbling around the lagoon.

Most Read