This season started off quite slow with emergency orders coming out for the King Salmon. Fish & Game either prohibited fishing for them, put in place catch and release measures, or simply limited the use of specific bait/tackle. This was all due to low numbers returning to the rivers to spawn. This has been the third or forth year in a row of poor King fishing in South-Central Alaska. If you didn’t get in on one early in the season, you would be waiting until next year. So that was a huge bummer as I really wanted to get one on the fly, but got out on the water too late. All in all, I really do appreciate what Fish & Game is trying to accomplish. It may suck for us sport fisherman, but with patience it will hopefully get much better in the coming years.
Next up was the first run of Sockeye Salmon. We had read reports via AOJ that fishing was doing pretty well up on the Klutina River. This river branches off from the world famous Copper River. I had never been that direction in all the years of living in Alaska so I thought, what the heck!? We made reservations with a campground right on the river which was nice, but what made it even more enjoyable was having our tent up right along the river. It’s not really necessary to hike around if your right in the path of these salmon, so being able to just wake up, throw on some boots and fish was definitely convenient. We managed a couple reds(sockeye) that evening after setting up camp, but weren’t able to get our full limit. The next morning I got into a spot right above our camp where no one was fishing and was able to get my limit of three more salmon in about 20 minutes. It’s crazy because I probably hooked into 10 or so fish throughout that 20 minutes. The next trip focusing on the reds was a few weeks later when we made a trip down to the Kenai to fish our usual spot. If you remember, this is the spot I broke one of my Sage rods last year. The reds on the Kenai run twice annually. The first run happens in June and the second run follows soon after. The second run is always much larger and that is when we get record runs. Anyway, I was able to limit out on this trip and landed a few surprise dolly’s. Good size to them. We made a few more trips for these freezer-fillers before moving onto the Silvers(Coho) which peak in the middle of August and start running weeks before.
I wasn’t looking to drive long distance anymore for salmon as I had spent most of the Summer already doing that. I decided to stick by close to home and fish Ship Creek in the heart of Anchorage. It’s roughly 15 minutes from the house so it’s pretty easy to make a trip down right after work to pick up some fish. Now, it’s been years since I fished for Silvers so I really wasn’t planning on really catching anything. Just wanted to get out and get on the water. It was nearly high tide so the water was pretty high. We fished what we could towards the mouth in the saltier water then proceeded up the river into a nice deep pool. After about 20 minutes I hooked into my first Silver of the season. I was pretty stoked to see this chrome bright fish come out of the water. My friend and I didn’t get anything in the next hour or so, so we packed our things and headed home. In the past I made it a point to avoid Ship Creek because it is so close and many locals as well as tourists will go down after work to fish. It turns into a zoo of snaggers and most of the time it just isn’t enjoyable. The next three days I fished it and came out successful. It was pretty awesome hooking into fish left and right while everyone else was standing there scratching their heads!
These past few weeks I have turned off the salmon radar to exclusively start targeting my favorite species, the Rainbow Trout. So far in this late Summer we’ve made it out to Willow Creek a couple times with good success and even more memories to last a lifetime. I’ve got a good bunch of trips left in me before things start to freeze up in the next couple months. Just recently we took the family down to Willow to stay at their little camp ground/resort. I was raised camping there so it’s always nice to come back. Great staff, awesome fishing…and showers for the females! I always have a good time. Plus it’s nice to fish somewhere familiar where you feel like you know the river. Beads have always been the go-to choice for me while stalking rainbows. Just recently I started rigging a little different which has made it all that much easier to keep myself in the water. I started out buying a couple spools of Maxima fluorocarbon, in both 10lb and 8lb. At the end of my fly line I have always tied on approx. 6-8″ of 30lb mono with a blood knot to the fly line and a tight loop on the opposite end. Then I take 5-6′(depending on water conditions) of the 10lb fluorocarbon and perfection loop it to the mono. Then I take roughly 18″ of the 8lb and connect the two using a blood knot. In Alaska we are required to place our splitshot 18″ above the hook, so this works out perfect as I place the splitshot right above the knot. This will prevent it from sliding down towards the hook. Next I will take my bead of choice, in this case it was a mottled natural roe TroutBead and run the leader through once, then bring it around once more through the hole. This is an extra precaution to prevent the bead from sliding. Once that step is taken care of I will peg the bead 2″ above the hook with a toothpick. The bead will not be going anywhere with both of these methods in place. Pegging the bead anymore than 2″ increases the odds of the fish being hooked in the side. This distance is a happy medium which works out perfect for both the angler and fish. Depending on the size of beads and fish will determine the size of hook. If you like fishing with an indicator, place it around the very end of the leader(fly line side). Of course if the water is deeper, your leader may be longer. This was the first time that I had put many of these additional methods into place and I was quite pleased. The only time I was out of the water was after I broke off in a log jam. Everyone knows to get to the big fish you need to be fishing in or around these blockades. If you fish them correctly with a perfect presentation you will usually be rewarded. You always know when your fishing the right spot because you get a lot of practice on rigging up! Anyway the most recent trip last week was awesome. I had a day off from work in the middle of the day and I couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was blue skies, roughly 70 degrees and the river was at perfect levels. Salmon were in full spawning mode and there was an endless menu of buffet items floating along. I hopped out right in front of the campground and fished every hole as I walked downstream. If I wasn’t hung up on a log, then there was an acrobatic rainbow on. It was exciting to watch the indicator get about halfway along the log jam and suddenly jolt under or upstream. Had a couple of fish take me into the back which was exciting. I fished a few hours until I had to get back to town for a Birthday, but so far…this has been the best trip bar none.
On to the next trip! Winter is coming quickly!