Area Sport Fishing Reports
Southern Kenai

December through February Season

Don't forget: your fishing license expires Dec. 31! A sport fishing license makes a great gift – one that lasts all year. (Neither the ADF&G Permanent ID license nor the ADF&G Disabled Veteran's license expire.)

The sport fishing regulations are good through April 15 of the new year. Look for new booklets around March or early April.

Saltwater Fishing

Halibut fishing is closed January 1-31. After January, anglers will likely have a hard time catching large halibut because most fish are far offshore, spawning in deep water.

Rockfish are occasionally caught in Lower Cook Inlet while trolling for king salmon. Rockfish may be kept year-round. The daily bag limit in Cook Inlet is five rockfish, no more than one of which may be a non-pelagic species. Check the rockfish identification pages in the regulation booklet to identify non-pelagic species.

Lingcod fishing is open through December 31 but closed January 1 - June 30. The limits during December are two fish over 35 inches in length per day, or in possession. During the closed season, all lingcod caught accidentally must be landed by hand or with a net (no gaffs) and carefully released.

Sharks are occasionally caught in Cook Inlet. The season is open year-round. The bag and possession limit is one shark of any species, except for spiny dogfish which have a bag/possession limit of five fish. There is an annual limit of two sharks of any species, except for spiny dogfish which have no annual limit. All harvested sharks must be recorded immediately upon capture on your license or harvest record. The most common sharks are the spiny dogfish (also called "sand sharks"), salmon sharks, and sleeper sharks. Sleeper sharks are generally inedible and should be released. Salmon sharks have high urea content and should be gutted and bled upon capture to ensure that the meat is edible. Spiny dogfish are a long-lived, slow to mature species that require long recovery times when stocks are over-exploited. Large and abrupt increases in the spiny dogfish population are unlikely because of their low reproductive rate. Spiny dogfish are highly migratory.

Some anglers find success trolling for "feeder" king salmon throughout winter. Feeder kings are fish that are feeding in Lower Cook Inlet before returning to their home stream to spawn. Plastic hootchies or tube flies in green, chartreuse, or blue herring trolled behind dodgers/flashers are often effective, as are variously-colored spoons and spinners. Dressing the tackle with herring can improve success.

Although there is no seasonal limit at this time of year, and king salmon don't have to be recorded until April 1, all king salmon bag and possession limits still apply. A king stamp IS still required (unless you have the ADF&G Senior License or ADF&G Disabled Veterans License, or unless you are under 16 years old).

Good fishing for pollock and cod can also be found throughout Kachemak Bay. Other species that may be caught include Dolly Varden, greenlings, Irish lord, flounder, sole, and skate. TIP: Fishing during slack tide or relatively small tidal exchanges requires less lead (sinkers) to get to the bottom and will allow greater time anchored, all of which spells "easier fishing."

Freshwater Fishing

Starting September 1, no bait or treble/multiple hooks are allowed in the Anchor River, Stariski Creek, Deep Creek, or Ninilchik River. Legal gear is single-hook, unbaited artificial lures/flies. A single hook has only 1 point. The ever-present Dolly Varden pretty much present the only fresh water possibility for winter fishing. Dollies will be overwintering in the deep pools or lakes along these systems. These streams are mostly frozen during this period, and have little open water. Proceed onto the ice with care because pockets of thin ice exist.

These streams close to all fishing January 1 through Memorial Day weekend (or the weekend before), to protect various populations of spawning salmon and trout. Please consult the sport fishing regulations before heading out to fish the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and the Ninilchik River.

Caribou Lake is accessible by ski-equipped airplane or by snowmachine. Try fishing through the ice for Dolly Varden or kokanee. Leisure Lake also has a small population of rainbow trout. The ice conditions on either lake are not monitored by any state agency, and traveling on the ice is at your own risk.

Shellfish

Shrimp, crab - The shrimp and crab fisheries are closed year-round due to low population levels.

Clams - Only the hardiest clammers brave the weather, ice blocks and large breakers. You will need a lantern or strong flashlight if minus tides occur after 3 p.m. or before 10 a.m.

Butter and littleneck clams have different size and limit restrictions. Pictures in the sport fishing regulation book can help you learn to recognize the differences to avoid taking undersized butters. Bury your discarded clams neck up - they can't do it themselves and will die. Additionally, fill in any holes dug in search of clams for the protection of the other beach creatures in the hole and to prevent smothering animals under the beach gravel you have piled up.

Razor clams: Beaches from the Kenai River to the tip of the Homer Spit is closed due to low population levels.

Occasionally there are PSP advisories issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. Contact them at (907) 269-7629, or check out their PSP pages on the Internet.

For more information on fishing contact the Homer ADF&G Area Office at (907) 235-8191