Monday, November 11, 2013

Homer Winter / Feeder Kings in NOVEMBER!

So with the fishing picking up in Homer for the winter feeder kings, you know I had to make a run.
Since my last post I took a few more trips.

Let's see, since I already wrote the reports for the Alaska Outdoor Journal website, you'll have to excuse my laziness and I am going to just copy and paste them here.

November 8 & 9

So I took a day off after watching the marine weather and drove down to Homer on Friday. For the past two years, I haven't taken a vacation of more than a couple of consecutive days. That means I have lots of time off in reserve 5 weeks I think. That's a lot of three and four day weekends which suits my fishing style perfectly. 

Rolled into Homer and hit the water around 10am. I get hit almost immediately but I lose the fish dinking around with the GoPro. ARGH. But the next one sticks and it feels like a good one. Bouncing between 14 and 15 lbs on my boca grip scale. Following the largest fish of the two days, I manage the smallest king of the trip. After missing one more, I fish till 4pm and finish 2 for 4 on the day. Not bad. Given I can't really move around much (in my kayak), I will take a limit almost any day except today since I have a proxy! But no complaints!! 

Day Two I am on the water at 8:30am. Within the first 30 seconds I have a pollock. Release it and no more than 30 seconds later as I was lowering the bait, I hook my first king of the day! WOOHOO!!!! Well the action wasn't super hot, but I would say going 4 for 4 in 4 hours is pretty dang good fishing for kings. All of the fish on day two ran 5 to 7 pounds. Nothing huge but I've done crazier things to go catch a limit of 3 reds or 2 silvers. Besides I consider the meat quality of the kings to be totally worth the effort. 

I did catch two of my kings on hand tied mylar tube flies. It worked out pretty well and will be testing them again. The other fish were caught on my needlefish hoochies I have been using of late. Oh yeah, incredible (to me at least) I went fishing WITHOUT BAIT!!!! I will give up one tip or at least an observation of mine. Where I am fishing, the fishing is better as the tide is falling down to low tide. I have my theories on why that is and though I haven't tried it, I think it applies if you are going to try it from shore as well. 

So the video is a little longer than normal at 4min 43 seconds. I added music since I didn't know how to adjust the audio. This is the first video I posted using iMovie so its a learning process. I prefer the live sounds but until I can adjust the volume and such, I'll add a soundtrack. Bear with me. 

But more than entertainment, it serves for me to see where I caught the fish and log other details like weather, tide, wind, etc. I suppose I shouldn't be sharing my super duper secret location but heck, I haven't run into very many people yet. It really amazes me. 

I guess I hadn't heard about this fishery for the longest time and even after I did, it was one of those crazy things the locals did in Homer when they got bored and lucked into good weather. Well that may be true in a way. I would not want to have driven back into Anchorage Saturday night with a 26ft boat in tow! But c'mon! Limit is two per day. You don't have to tag them on your license or harvest card. Though keep in mind limit and possession is two so you have to drop the first day's fish off at a friends or somewhere they can freeze them. [AOJ: If the weather is cooperating, leaving your fish outside in the back of your truck or outside your motel room overnight can freeze them too for removing from your possession limit.] 

I see some folks legitimately concerned about the potential impact of the fishery on the king salmon stocks. My understanding after discussing it with several folks including a Fish and Game biologist is that these stocks originate mainly, if not very close to 100%, from much further south in SE Alaska, Canada, Washington and even Oregon. While I can't speak for every stream these stocks might originate from, in general, currently the stocks down south are doing considerably better than the local stocks here. So I guess if you are going to harvest kings, very generally speaking, its probably better to harvest these. Have I mentioned HOW GOOD these kings are??? OK, that's no reason to overexploit any stock, but given the very mixed stock generally originating from healthier stocks and did I mention you get to catch chromer salmon in NOVEMBER? Well, I guess what I am trying to say is I don't lose too much sleep over it. 

Well I can't believe I got another weekend of fishing on open water in November!!!! I even caught some fish!!! I can't believe it - I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!!! Oh yeah here's the video!!! 

P.S. A short BONUS clip! Haha. I may have to take out my 4wt floating line flyrod. I was hoping and hoping and hoping that a King might emerge to smash the fly but alas, it wasn't meant to be. But it was fun to watch! 

November 3

Had to give it another try with this warm weather. Wind was blowing pretty hard but from the south. So it was pretty choppy and lots of spray but the water was manageable. Still too rough to try and get out to the "can" so I concentrated my efforts directly in front of the condos next to the Land's End Hotel. 

Started at low tide around 9am and the action was decent during the first few hours. Not as many pollock today though I caught my fair share. Used the same hoochies I have been using the past few times behind the classic dodger. It was pretty rough out so I opted to use my deep six diver rather than my down rigger. 

Today the bait was concentrated closer to shore when the tide was running. I missed two tiny kings. Both I had right up to the yak but got off while I was trying to net them. The dinky ones are harder to net as the planer and dodger waving around in the wind is enough to change their direction or even lift them part way out of the water. There's never any tension. But that's OK because for once the bigger one didn't get away. 14 pounds on my boca grip scale. 

Technical difficulties with the video, I only got a 9 second clip but it does show the fish so maybe I will post it later. Too rough to dig the new sd card and battery from my pocket inside my drysuit. I need to plan better. 

The king I kept hit the hoochie as I had the rod in my hands so it was pretty cool. Just about ripped the rod out of my hand since I was using braid and there is no stretch. 

Having went hiking the day before, I was tuckered out. So I took a break at noon then tried for another hour or so at High tide. Didn't get a strike that seemed like a king. I did find a batch of pollock in 15ft of water that I could watch hit my hoochie. They were literally fighting for it 6 inches under my kayak. Entertaining...for about 2 minutes. During high slack, there were decent marks in deeper water. All the way on the bottom in about 80 to 100 feet of water. By the time I figure it out on my sonar, I was too lazy to break out my down rigger gear. 

Still, who can complain? I know the weather is unseasonably warm but for as long as I lived here, I can't believe I am still catching kings in November...from a kayak!!! Just INSANE!!! And the food value of these feeder kings are as good as it gets. Super oily and delicious! It's a long drive to catch fairly small kings. But given the high quality and the simple challenge of catching kings in November...I'm addicted!

October 26, 2013

So up at 4am, on the water by 9am Saturday morning. Had a Halloween party commitment at 7pm back in Anchorage so I had to be off the water at 2pm. So 8 hours of drive time to fish 5 hours? Sounds about the right level of commitment to hammer a nice king! 

Well to make a longer report a little shorter, I manage to go one for three but the one king was even tinier than the ones I caught on Tuesday. Not sure if I would call it a jack or not. Almost doesn't even look like a king. 

The problem of the day was pollock. So I fished 5 hours or 300 minutes. I stopped counting pollock around 20 and that was less than 2 hours into my fishing. Think about that. That's dealing with a pollock every 6 minutes. Good thing I was using a hoochie set up today. I bet I landed 50 pollock literally. I also would drag them in on bait checks even if I didn't think there was a fish on. It got so bad that I was checking the bait every 3 to 5 minutes...and most time it would have a pollock. Very strange feeling to feel a sense of relief when a fish WASN'T on the line! Basically what it meant was that I bet my gear was "trolling" for kings less than 60 minutes of my day. THAT'S frustrating. Deep, shallow, fast, super didn't matter. 

In fact the two fish I lost, I hooked them in 30 ft of water which was easily within casting distance of the shoreline trying to avoid the pollock. Both of these fish were of course "real" kings and not jack. Though one jumped a half dozen time like a silver. Of video. The major disadvantage of a kayak is it's tough to move spots while on the water. The good news is that I can run down just for the price of car gas and put in a half day. I would never made the effort like that towing a big boat down. The fish are there! 

Finally, people often ask me "What is the most dangerous thing about kayak fishing?" My answer is consistently "The drive down to the fishing hole." Near Clam Gulch while dark I hit black ice and my back end breaks free twice. ACK! Seemed like dry pavement but fog or other moisture was on the road. Be careful folks! No fish is worth pushing the limits.

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