Fresh from the river at Alaska West, Brian Niska checks in today some recommendations on gear that you’ve probably never heard of!
New Additions to my Alaska West Fishing Gear Essentials
I recently returned from two weeks of King Salmon fishing at Alaska West. This is my sixth season fishing the Kanektok in July and I can honestly say you really need to be prepared for any and all weather conditions, even at the height of summer. In past years I have seen mixed rain and snow and blazing sun with temps up to 90. This year we had the full variety: constant wind and heavy rain at the start of the trip with temps around and below 40 degrees. In the second week the sun blazed, the wind died down and the bugs came out.
Part of the fun of an Alaska trip is putting new equipment to the test in the full variety of conditions experienced on the tundra. Each of these items proved immensely useful in the full variety of conditions though none of the three came from a fly shop.
Bama boots are magic – literally the best $15 you can spend to ensure warm dry feet. I started wearing Bamas in my waders this past winter steelhead season and I can’t believe it took me this long to get on the program. Put these booties on top of good wading socks and you will have dry feet even if your waders have pinhole leaks. On the warmest days the Bamas wick sweat away from your foot, avoiding the dreaded trenchfoot normally associated with long hot days in soggy waders.
Be advised you will need to go up a half to full size on your wading boot size for comfortable fit.
Airhole Balaclava Ninja Mask
The variety of harsh conditions found in Alaska explains the proliferation of face/neck masks, which have become standard issue for Alaska West anglers. Airhole is a Canadian company run by pro snowboarders. They make a full range of facemasks that feature their patented breathing hole and come in a wide array of styles ranging from the subtle and classy to fun and mildly offensive. These are far superior to other popular neck/facemasks as the Airhole breathing feature works great enabling constant wear without fogging your glasses.
The Airhole mask I wore on this trip was the balaclava ninja mask. This design features a hood and hinged face cover enabling the wearer to pull down the face cover while leaving the hood in place. This awesome mask protects your face from the sun, keeps you warm in a storm and does a great job of keeping the Alaskan bugs out. The print that I am wearing in this photo is called the ‘Defenseman’ and was definitely a conversation starter on the river. Now a proven fishing accessory and on order for my fly shop.
Delorme In Reach SE
(pictured up top)
Even though I’m on the river I still have a business to run back home that very occasionally needs my attention. I picked up the Delorme InReach SE as soon as they came out in June and tested it out right away at Alaska West.
This awesome unit will send texts and track your progress as well as featuring the standard GPS locater SOS capability. The messages you send people will feature a link to a photomap showing your location. You can even update your facebook profile (I didn’t) with a map of your travels.
Back home in Squamish my fly shop manager could see on the map my exact location whenever I sent a text, right down to which tent I was in. He could also track my movements on the river from trout fishing way above camp all the way down to chasing chrome kings at tidewater. The inReach SE is very water resistant and performed great in the full variety of weather conditions.
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