Today we’re coming at you with another addition of a series of posts addressing some basic questions on the topics we cover most. We’ve already covered some of the basic questions involving Alaskan trout, bonefish, and even spey fishing. Now its time to address the biggest and baddest of them all, the king salmon.
9 Questions About King Salmon You Were Afraid to Ask
- Is a king salmon the same as a chinook? Yes. They’re exactly the same fish, just two different names. In fact, all the pacific salmon have two names!
- What is a Jack? A jack is a young king salmon that has returned to spawn after only 1-3 years at sea as opposed to an adult that typically returns after 5-8 years at sea. Jacks look identical but are considerably smaller than adults and can be anywhere from 12 inches to 30 inches. They are still a blast on a fly rod!
- Do you have to use a spey rod? Heck no! Swinging flies with a spey rod allows us to effectively cover as much water as possible while still having the versatility of changing depths using sink tips. Sure, we love our two handers, however, a stout 10-12 weight single hand rod armed with a versatile sink tip system can be just as effective! In fact, in water where a dead drifted fly is desirable, the single-hand rod is hard to beat.
- Do you have to cast far? Not necessarily! Sure, sometimes kings are hooked on that long distance hero cast, but more often than not, a decent 40 foot cast will get the job done.
- Do you catch kings wading or fishing from the boat? Both. Most often we fish by wading whether it be swinging flies ‘downstream and across,’ slowly stripping, or dead drifting flies. However, depending on the conditions we also anchor the boat along other likely holding water and fish from the boat as well.
- What size rods do you use? If using a single hand rod, we recommend a stout 10-12 weight capable of throwing heavy flies and sink tips. If using a spey rod, we recommend a 9-10 weight rod in the 12-15 foot range. For a detailed list of tackle recommendations click here.
- Do you really need that much backing? Mabye, maybe not, but why take the chance? These are big fish that take even bigger runs. We recommend at least 200 yards of 30 pound backing. However, many of our guests use 250-300 yards. On more than one occasion we’ve seen anglers stare at their bare arbor as their fish of a lifetime heads for the Bering Sea. Don’t risk it – put as much on as your reel can hold.
- Do they all really die? Sorry to break it to you, but they sure do. Just like the other four species of pacific salmon, after spawning they all die, only to be repeated by the following generation the next season. Don’t worry though, it is this life cycle that replenishes the nutrients in our rivers and feeds the many resident trout, dolly varden, arctic grayling, bears, birds, and other various wildlife in the area.
- When can you fish for king salmon? Although the timing is entirely dependent on location, kings are usually the first of the pacific salmon to return to their spawning grounds each season. In our river, the kings arrive around the second week of June and start to taper off by the third week of July.