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Cook Inlet

Cook Inlet is NOT for beginners.  If you have never fished out of Cook Inlet please do as much research as possible and play it safe!  It is like a river! Not a lake.

Though other opportunities exist, the main launches of interest to kayak fisherman are from North to South:  Deep Creek, Whiskey Gulch, and Anchor Point.  Each launch present a slightly different challenge but all three can be very productive.  For a list of the launch sites and a brief discussions of the pros and cons, click here.

We mainly target King Salmon and Halibut though all the other species of salmon and other fish such as cod are available. 

The waters of Cook Inlet are known to have the second largest tidal exchange on the planet.  From low to high, the water can change over 30 feet VERTICALLY!  The currents can run up to 5 knots and the wind is generally blowing North or South.

This creates several problems.  You cannot fight the current.  It is just too fast at its peak.  You must plan your trip around it.  

If this is your first time, I would highly recommend fishing an hour or two before the tide changes.  Then the current speed will be minimal and you will have the opportunity to fish roughly 4 hours.  Try to stay up current of the launch site until you determine the situation.  You will be amazed how far you travel while fighting a fish or untangling lines.  

You can find the kings within 100 ft (not yards) of the shore line. Halibut fishing always seems better out deeper but can be found all the way to the shoreline.

A good set up is to use a 6 oz to 10 oz trolling sinker ahead of a flasher and herring.  Keep the leader lengths shorter than you would on a boat or you will have a hard time netting the fish! Then you can paddle up current to troll.   

Don't worry if you are making minimal head way, its the line angle and the action of the bait that matters.  When you want to take a break, just stop paddling and drop the whole rig to the bottom.  It's prone to tangling but I think the flasher helps attract halibut.  Then simply repeat.

High Tide vs Slack tide: They are NOT the same!

Here's something many anglers, even veterans, forget: HIgh tide and slack tide are VERY different.  

If you looked at your tide tables and determined that high tide is at noon, you will find the current does not stop and change directions for an hour or more.  

Here's an example.   Notice on the right graph, that high tide for this day was at 1:26pm.  But in the same location, the current is shown as stopped a full hour later at 2:27ish.  Photos are from my iphone Navionics app.  Pricey at $15 but well worth it.  The main purpose is for bathymetric charts.

There are several things to keep in mind about the current.  On a rising tide, the current will stop closer to shore before it does offshore.

WIND: Impacts are as great as the current

You must understand that wind will also impact you every bit as much as the current.  With no keel and little below the waterline, your body, net, and even your paddle in between strokes acts as a sail.  

Also keep in mind that seas can be very calm and flat when the wind and current are running in the same direction.  But as soon as the current switches direction, even though the wind hasn't changed, waves and chop will immediately form.  Things can change in a HURRY!  

Real Life Example of a mistake.

Here's a mistake I made in my learning stages.  The situation was a stiff North wind of 10 to 15 knts.  We launch out of Deep Creek as the tide is going out.  We get carried south as expected.  But when the tide turned, the stiff north wind kept us from making headway back North towards our launch point.  

Several mistakes were made here.  First the kayaks we were using were less than ideal for the conditions; a mini-x and a inflatable Aire Tiger.  We misjudged the winds impact as we were worried about the current.  We also panicked as we exhausted ourselves trying to paddle against the wind.  

Had we waited for the current to get stronger we could have eventually made it back especially if we had a drift sock or even a bucket on a rope.  The eventual outcome was we beached our kayaks nearly 2 miles from the take out.  Fortunately we had a truck that could run down the beach and pick up the kayaks.

Here's our track on my NAVIONICS app of that fateful day...

Click on the pictures below for the associated blog entry for more narrative, pictures, and video.

Subpages (1): Launches: Cook Inlet