• Once you’ve set that hook, you’re hooked
By Sean Pearson
So … you got your vacation time approved, tracked down all your fishing gear, promised the wife a few days of peace and quiet and gathered the boys for an epic fishing trip to Alaska.
Ah yes, Alaska. The Greatland. The Last Frontier. The Wild. A little time to get back to your Neanderthal instincts, throw a hook in the water and try your hand at landing that big fish. After all, you ARE a provider.
You’re decked out in your best LL Bean khakis, got a new 26-pocket vest and are more than ready to try out your Pinnacle PowerTip Gold Fishing rod.
You check out the Fishing Hole and find it to be nothing more than a vast wasteland of angling apocalypse. Time to move on to the end of the Spit.
People are actually standing at the water’s edge near Land’s End with fishing poles, casting lines far out into the water. You see that as a relatively promising sign, begin the process of unloading kids and gear, and ready your hook for what you’re sure will be an awesome battle between fin and fishing finesse.
Still, there you stand. Casting, waiting … waiting … and waiting. Standing turns to sitting … then lounging … then full-on napping. You wait for the whining to begin.
“Well, this sucks.”
“How long are we staying?”
Trust me, I feel your pain.
Here’s one small tip: try fishing on the incoming tide. It won’t guarantee you’ll catch a fish, but it will certainly improve your chances.
You can tell whether the tide is going in or out by looking at that line on the beach. It’s called a tide line. Even if you just watch for a while, you can gather relatively quickly whether the tide is incoming or outgoing. Or, make life even simpler and grab a handy little tide book from just about any place in town. They are free and quite helpful if you actually sit down and read through at least some of it.
Clearly this is fishing, and not empirical science, so there are plenty of theories as to what works best. Some anglers will tell you to fish right after the lowest tide. Others argue to wait ‘til an hour after the lowest tide. And, still others base their arrival time according to some kind of complex math formula. I say it’s already hard enough to get the kids ready to go fishing — with gear and food and licenses with king stamps — before the sun sets. (And yes, we are talking about an Alaska sunset. Land of the midnight sun takes on a whole new meaning.)
But don’t spend too much time trying to figure out the perfect time to pursue fish. Things can start getting complicated when you have to convert Seldovia tide times to Homer, as well as decipher the magical cartoon fish of various sizes that correspond with each day listed in the tide book.
And, there are plenty of other variables to consider as well. Water temperature, currents, turgidity, wind and air temperature all figure into the angling equation. So, if you want to improve your odds against the finned fiends, do a little research. Grab a State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game Regulations book and give it a quick read-through. It’s not much of a page-turner, and more than likely no one will pop-quiz you later, but information inside is invaluable.
Or, just ask a local angler.
Sure, you will still have to stand and wait for the fish. After all, we’re on their time, not yours. But reading, paying attention to water levels and conditions and talking to others can be the difference between returning home with a few fun fish photos and getting completely skunked.
And while you’re standing there waiting patiently for your fish friends to arrive, look around. You might notice that bald eagle flying 12 feet over your head. Or the sea otter playing in the surf.
Angling in Alaska is an experiential process, not a task to be completed. Take your time, have a little patience and soak up that beauty that surrounds you.
Your patience may be truly put to the test this season if you came to take part in Alaska’s annual salmon harvest. In less than a month, the ADF&G has issued a total of 13 emergency orders and restrictions for salmon, as well as shellfish, in the Kenai/Lower Cook Inlet fishing region.
Odds are, there will be more to come.
Current fishing restrictions:
• All waters of the English Bay River drainage and Port Graham Subdistrict will be closed to sport fishing for sockeye salmon through 11:59 p.m., July 31.
As of July 1, a total of 1,909 sockeye salmon had passed the English Bay weir. The minimum sustainable escapement goal is 6,000 sockeye salmon by July 31.
A total of 4,018 sockeye salmon should have been counted by July 1. Subsistence harvest of this stock is closed, and no further harvestable surplus is anticipated for either subsistence or commercial users at this time.
• Kamishak Bay District: The Chenik video counting station was pulled July 1 and evaluated Monday morning. Video counts indicate that 271 fish passed the system from June 22-27. Another 1,594 fish passed June 27-July 1, for a total of 1,769 fish.
The SEG range for sockeye salmon in Chenik Lake is 3,500-14,000 fish, with a midpoint of 8,750.
• Subsistence, personal-use, and sport fishing for Tanner crab will not open July 15 for the 2012 – 2013 season in Cook Inlet waters west of Point Pogibshi to Anchor Point and along the North Gulf Coast.
The department recently completed the Kamishak Bay Tanner crab abundance survey and measured no legal-sized Tanner crab.
Tanner crab harvest strategy requires a minimum estimate of 40,000 legal male Tanner crab in Kamishak Bay.
In addition, the season will not open July 15 in Kachemak Bay and may remain closed for the rest of the season, pending trawl survey results. Results are expected to be finalized, released and followed up with an announcement in mid-July.
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