Story last updated at 7/1/2009 - 11:57 am
Heart pounding, exhilarating, adrenaline rush - these are all words that quickly come to mind to describe the moment that eclipses any angler when they are hooked up and engaged in a battle with a large king salmon on recreational sport gear. If you have yet to intercept one of these large, robust salmon this summer, there is still time. The terminal king salmon fishery in many Southeast Alaska areas continues to experience the arrival of fresh fish, so fishing conditions should continue to be good to very good for several more weeks. This is great news for Southeast sport anglers.
Earlier this season, I addressed styles of fly rods - specifically fly rod taper, progressive and fast action, and the necessity of these rods of either taper having a solid backbone. I also covered fly reels, highlighting the significance of large arbor reels and how this unique design feature allows you to rapidly retrieve (and pick up) line, which is critical when pursuing fast swimming fish like Southeast king salmon. In this feature of "On the Fly" I'd like to address three more key components to successful king salmon fishing, and these are lines, flies, and fishing with a plan.
Because fly rodding for kings is very similar to big game hunting, it's important to fish with a plan. This plan will help you become more focused and efficient once you get out and begin casting. Take notes - whether written or mental - each time you fish, and use these notes when establishing your daily plan. Pay special attention to where fish tend to coalesce, where they leap and crash (if they do) and who's been hooking up and at what particular tide. All these features may prove helpful tomorrow, or the next time you go out. Although successful fishing does harbor some degree of luck, placing yourself in a position to harvest that luck is one of the major objectives of your angling plan.
Flies for kings are not tricky, nor are they some sort of secret. In fact, I use at most six total patterns. Like most people, I tend to toss both dark and brightly colored large flies for terminal kings. The one difference for me might be that I tend to fish more natural colored baitfish patterns early on in the run. As the run progresses and fish begin to stage in terminal areas, I shift to brightly colored flies and then switch again to dark flies as angling pressure increases. These subtle changes in fly patterns - juggling from natural colors then progressing to bright and dark - can many times make the difference between having barbeque burgers that evening or grilled fresh salmon!
Lastly, as fly fishers we all live by the axiom that "fly lines catch fish," and I am a firm believer in this axiom of fly-fishing. Because of this, I always carry several fly lines in a shooting head wallet each time I go out. In short, the more times you can present your fly in the face of a king salmon, the greater the odds will be that it will eventually grab it! In my opinion, this is why it is imperative to have a variety of lines ready to go that have been set up in advance. This requirement alone is why I choose to employ the shooting head system when fly-casting to kings in Southeast Alaska. The shooting head system is specifically designed to allow you to quickly and easily change heads in a matter of seconds to accommodate changes in water and fishing conditions.
There is still time to intercept and enjoy one of Alaska's most prized sport fish, the king salmon. Battling kings on fly gear is extremely exciting and also very rewarding. I hope that my personal tips on targeting kings on fly gear will help you experience this excitement and also live the adrenaline rush that comes with battling Alaska's largest salmon. Good luck and tight lines!
Rich Culver is a fly-fishing freelance writer and photographer and member of the Scott Fly Rod Company's Pro Staff. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.