We’re currently in the midst of our king salmon season on the Kanektok River at Alaska West and On the Nushagak River at Rapids Camp Lodge. These are not your normal king fisheries – we’re swinging flies for hot chrome fish just a few miles for the salt, and that really turns our crank!
Needless to say, we’ve got kings on the brain so we thought we’d pass on some things to think about if you’re lucky enough to be swinging for kings this summer.
5 Ways to Catch More King Salmon
- Don’t cast too far. Yeah, we like Spey rods as much as the next guy, and casting far is fun. For much of our king season though, the fish are pretty tight to the bank. Consistently great 40-foot casts will catch more fish than every-once-in-a-while-I-hit-one 80-foot casts. More string is not always better.
- Keep your fly in the water. In many ways this is related to tip #1 – fish in a way that you’re comfortable so that your fly is swimming as much as possible. Don’t get stuck with a difficult cast that results in tangles every third swing. Don’t try to cast further than you can. Don’t change flies or tips every 5 minutes. Kings in the lower Kanektok and the lower Dean are constantly swimming by, and it’s really not rocket science! The more time the fly is in the water, swimming reasonably, the more fish you’re going to catch.
- Wait for the deep pull. Golly, this can be hard on the first day of your trip! Kings often swat at the fly a couple of times before they’re solidly hooked. You need to feel the weight of the fish before you set. Be patient, wait for the deep pull, and then let ’em have it.
- Fight them hard. These are big, strong fish, and if you’re not working hard they’re resting. Pull hard, fight them actively, and get it over quickly.
- Be grateful. We’re not trying to get all spiritual on you all of a sudden, but chasing anadromous fish sometimes involves some pretty serious ‘X factors’. Anglers who get grumpy about the wind, their slow afternoon, or their bad casting tend to catch fewer fish. Really, they do. Anglers who take it all in, keep a great attitude and appreciate the gifts that the river gives them (because that’s what these creatures are, after all) catch more fish, and have a heck of a lot more fun doing it.