Area Sport Fishing Reports
Halibut fishing in July in the Lower Cook Inlet area is usually excellent, and slows only when the weather prohibits boats from visiting all their usual spots. Fish are taken anywhere from the shallow kelp beds at 25 feet to the 400- to 500-feet deep waters of Kennedy Entrance. Sizes range from 10 to 400 pounds. The choice bait in July for halibut is red (sockeye) salmon heads, but herring follows as a close second.
Halibut fishing in lower Cook Inlet (Homer and Seldovia) is expected to remain good this year. Although abundance throughout Southcentral Alaska is currently above the historical average, reproduction is down and abundance is believed to be decreasing.
A halibut that is kept counts towards the bag and possession limit OF THE PERSON WHO HOOKS IT, not the person who reels in the fish.
In July, the king salmon season is over in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and the Ninilchik River. Even though there may still be a few king salmon in the lower sections of these streams, it is illegal to fish for them. Kings inadvertently caught must be released unharmed, immediately, and without removing them from the water.
In the salt water off of Deep Creek and the Anchor River, king salmon from the second run are not usually caught until mid-July. This run is sporadic, and success is often spotty. An occasional silver salmon can also be caught trolling the marine waters of these areas during late July.
Regulations allow fishing in Anchor River, Deep Creek, Ninilchik River, and Stariski Creek ONLY in the lower two miles (approximately) of each stream. The upper reaches of these streams are closed to fishing through the end of July to protect spawning king salmon.
By mid-July, pink salmon start to enter these streams. They are an excellent way to introduce a novice to fishing, and pink salmon are excellent table fare, when fresh, as well. Look for silver salmon to start moving into Lower Kenai Peninsula streams by the end of July.
Bait and multiple hooks are legal gear in the sections of these streams open to salmon fishing, with salmon roe preferred. Anglers fishing without bait seem to prefer PixeesTM, KrokodilesTM, or TeeSpoonsTM. Whatever your preferred method, give it a try and if that doesn't work, look around and see what the lucky ones are using.
Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon - Look for silvers to show in the Lagoon around July 15. The run will build through early August. For the best success, fish the tide as it flows into the lagoon using egg clusters or cut herring. Spoons and spinners are also producers at any tide stage. During slack water periods try fishing cut herring below a bobber.
China Poot Bay - Red salmon enter this bay, located about 4 miles east of the Homer Spit, by the first of July. Commercial fishermen finance the stocking of this enhancement fishery, so they harvest as many fish as they can, but some are missed. Snagging of red salmon is allowed in salt waters outside the ADF&G marker at the mouth of China Poot Creek. The daily bag and possession limit is 6. Alaskan residents are allowed to use dip nets to harvest up to 6 red salmon per day upstream of the ADF&G marker in China Poot Creek. Remember: dipnetting is allowed only in the fresh waters of the creek upstream of the ADF&G marker! No permit is required, but you must have an Alaska resident fishing license. The tips of the tail fins must also be removed immediately, to mark the fish as personal use.
Other locations - The third week of July is the time to begin fishing near Glacier Spit, located across Kachemak Bay from Homer, at the foot of Grewingk Glacier. Locals have fished this area for pink and silver salmon and halibut for decades. Try casting a hot pink PixeeTM from the shoreline, or if you prefer, trolling in tight to the beach. More adventurous anglers can find protected moorage in a small shallow saltwater embayment located on the spit. This allows boaters to fish from the beach or even to picnic, hike, or camp overnight.
Other Saltwater Opportunities
Rockfish are occasionally caught in Lower Cook Inlet while trolling for salmon or while fishing for halibut south of Point Pogibshi. Rockfish may be kept year-round. The bag limit in Cook Inlet is five rockfish, only one of which may be non-pelagic species. Most of the colorful species, such as the yelloweye rockfish (or "red snapper"), are in the non-pelagic category. Check the rockfish identification pages in the regulation booklet to identify non-pelagic species. Additional protection is needed for non-pelagic rockfishes because of their extreme longevity and low productivity. Anglers are encouraged to fish with a single hook and to avoid fishing in rocky areas so as to avoid catching non-pelagic rockfish. Rockfish caught in deep water suffer injuries from decompression. Recent research by the department indicates that survival of released rockfish can be substantially improved by releasing fish at the depth of capture. For more information on the types and use of deep water release mechanisms, see the department’s web page at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingSportFishingInfo.rockfishconservation.
Lingcod fishing opens July 1 with a limit of 2 lingcod daily or in possession. All harvested lingcod must be at least 35 inches in length.
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 overexploited. Large and abrupt increases in the spiny dogfish population are unlikely because of their low reproductive rate. Spiny dogfish are highly migratory.
Please do not remove the head or tail until ADF&G port samplers have had a chance to measure your fish.
Good fishing for pollock and cod can also be found throughout Kachemak Bay. Other species that may be caught include Dolly Varden, greenling, 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."
The Division of Sport Fish collects data on the recreational bottomfish harvest landed in Homer and on the beaches at Anchor Point and Deep Creek. Fishery technicians interview returning anglers and sample halibut, rockfish, and sharks for length, weight, sex, and age. You can help by providing information when interviewed and by allowing technicians to sample your catch. Information collected by this project is used to monitor the health of the fishery, advise halibut management agencies, and help the Alaska Board of Fisheries formulate regulations that protect fish stocks and provide maximum fishing opportunity. Contact ADF&G in Homer at (907) 235-1730 for additional information.
Other Freshwater Opportunities
Dolly Varden begin to show up in the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River in early July, with the peak of their migration in mid- to late July. Dollies provide excellent action on light tackle. In the Anchor River, steelhead are at the end of their spawning period and the few straggling outmigrants could be hooked as they make their way back to salt waters. Spawning has greatly depleted their energy reserves. They should be landed quickly and carefully released. Doing so will greatly increase the chance that they will survive and return at a later date as larger fish to spawn.
Please consult the sport fishing regulations prior to fishing the Anchor River, Deep Creek, and Ninilchik River.
Shrimp and crab - The shrimp and crab fisheries are closed year-round due to low population levels.
Clams - Lower Cook Inlet in July often sees at least one or two series of minus tides, the best times to dig for clams. Clam diggers are reminded that a sport fishing license is needed to dig clams. 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 holes dug in search for the protection of the other beach creatures in the hole and to prevent smothering the ones under the pile you have dug.
There are literally miles of good razor clam beaches available from north of the Anchor River to Cape Kasilof. The limit is the first 60 razor clams dug. All razor clams dug must be kept.
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.