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Thread: Advice for New Salmon Fisherman

  1. #1

    Default Advice for New Salmon Fisherman

    So this is my first summer in AK, and I can't wait to go salmon fishing. I had planned to play around in ship creek this weekend and start trying my novice (and I can't stress novice enough) luck. But then I found out a future co-worker is going to be in town this weekend, so now I'm considering heading down to the lower Kenai. I know that in both places the Kings are just trickling in but was wondering if one place or the other might have advantages for a newbie?

    Also, are there any particularly good books out there for learning how to fish for salmon in AK rivers?

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    The main thing with kings is don't get discuraged when I first started fishing for kings it took a very long time to catch anything. many days fishing over many years to figure out what works for me. Don't expect to just go out and hook a king on your first attempt.
    Good luck and have fun.

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    If you are new at the salmon thing, I'd advise to go to Ship. I have never caught a king from shore on the Kenai, and I know it would be tough. I know it's possible and people do it, but you might want to stick to Ship. Another option is the Eklutna tailrace on the Old Glen Hwy heading towards Palmer. It's about 4 miles or so once you exit the New Glenn to get on the old Glen.(Not the part that is in Eagle River.. you go way past eagle river almost to the Knik river bridge.) It's on the left with a sign. I'd guess there will be less people there until the Kings really come in.

    Or if you really want to go to the Penninsula. then try Kasilof at Crooked Creek, or keep going to Homer and fish the Hole (Dudack lagoon or something like that is it's real name.) YOu can fish for Kings there, and other fish near the Lands end hotel. Just bait, small hooks, and weight.

    For Kings try throwing big spoon, Big Pixies of various colors, Roe under a bobber, or herrring under a bobber. Another option that works up to High tide is a corkie (small round floater that has a hole in it.) you put that above your hook and tie on the hook. I usually use a red gamasuka hook and some yarn as well.

    Good luck!!

    ps.... just like the other person said patience is key. Last year I spent 40 hours fishing Kinds and didn't land one. The year b4 about 50 hours to land 4. The year and year before that I just spent a lot of time trying! Still plenty of people hook one right away!

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    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_dog60 View Post
    The main thing with kings is don't get discuraged when I first started fishing for kings it took a very long time to catch anything. many days fishing over many years to figure out what works for me. Don't expect to just go out and hook a king on your first attempt.
    Good luck and have fun.
    This is not a joke. However, if you hit the timing right on the right rivers and you get a little advice from someone that is very familiar with that river you can and will successfully catch a king. In the valley streams if timing is right you will put in much, much less time attempting to hook one. Landing one is up to you

    PS: Last year we brought home 10 kings in one day after a few hours between 5 of us on my boat and yes on some rivers at some times the limit is 2 per day.

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    I've landed up to 13 in a day from shore on Willow before (released 'em all but one), and hooked a bunch more. when they're in and you're good (lucky????), you can do pretty well. I finally landed my first king in '94 after chasing them and trying for MANY hours. After the first one, Istarted catchin' 'em a lot more regularly.

    Spin-n-Glos in a drift rig if you're shore fishing in decent current. Cast Pixees and #6 Vibrax in slow current. Mag Warts, Kwikfish, or spin n glos (and/or bait, where legal) behind the boat, either anchored at the top of a hole or backtrolling through it. Use a jet diver when necessary to get the lure/bait down to the fish.

    Baitcaster or spinning rod/reel combo with a good drag; 7 to 8 1/2 ft long, heavy action, 30 lb Trilene Big Game, and you're all set.

    Good luck! I'm off to the Little Su to see if anything came in with the tide!!!

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    Thanks for the advice! I've always wanted to catch an AK king. I've got all summer to try, but if nothing else I'll just sit out in some beautiful AK water tossing a fishing rod around. There are worse things in life :-).

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    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKRoadkill View Post
    I've landed up to 13 in a day from shore on Willow before (released 'em all but one), and hooked a bunch more. when they're in and you're good (lucky????), you can do pretty well. I finally landed my first king in '94 after chasing them and trying for MANY hours. After the first one, Istarted catchin' 'em a lot more regularly.

    Sounds like we started fishing there close to the same time frame. Probably fished next to each other more than once.

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    Member akfisherman's Avatar
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    Default Chvynva916

    Hey man welcome to Alaska! Don't worry bout the experience level, we all learned just the say way you are...by doin' it. Don't be afraid to ask questions to the guy standing next to ya in the river....Most folks are more that willing to help you out. Granted there are a few rude people out there but, most of us are ok guys. There is an open seat thread on this forum so keep an eye out for that. If I was down your way, i'd take you out on the river...I am up Fairbanks way and my boat isn't quite legal on the Kenai....But I leaned to fish for kings on Sheep Creek near Talkeetna. I can give you mucho details about fishing there. Feel free to PM me if ya want...Other than that....Crooked Creek at Kasilof is a great place to land a king, but like i said i don't really fish down that way anymore so i don't know about timimg. Alot of guys on here are great though and they are a wealth of information.....

    Yo dude.....FISH ON!

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBighorn View Post
    Sounds like we started fishing there close to the same time frame. Probably fished next to each other more than once.
    Yup. I was up in the Fairbanks area From Oct '92 to '02 and came down to the Parks streams most weekends. Did a lot of time flailing the water at Willow and Montana. Usually we were somewhat loud and jokin' around with the folks we didn't know. Before I caught that first one at Montana Creek, I fished Willow, Kenai, Ninilchik, Deep Creek and Gulkana.

    Now that I live down here and have the boat, I might not spend much time on the combat streams, but will be hitting the Little Su, Deshka, etc. fairly regularly. Just took a short run to the Little Su this afternoon. A guide was coming out; said they caught one. I fished about 45 minutes; didn't even see any rolling, but it was good to be out again!

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    Member akfisherman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKRoadkill View Post
    Yup. I was up in the Fairbanks area From Oct '92 to '02 and came down to the Parks streams most weekends. Did a lot of time flailing the water at Willow and Montana. Usually we were somewhat loud and jokin' around with the folks we didn't know. Before I caught that first one at Montana Creek, I fished Willow, Kenai, Ninilchik, Deep Creek and Gulkana.

    Now that I live down here and have the boat, I might not spend much time on the combat streams, but will be hitting the Little Su, Deshka, etc. fairly regularly. Just took a short run to the Little Su this afternoon. A guide was coming out; said they caught one. I fished about 45 minutes; didn't even see any rolling, but it was good to be out again!


    So that was you RoadKill.....Me and my good friend Jack Daniels spent alot of good weekends down yonder at Montana and Sheep...
    What are ya...a fisherman...or a catcherman?

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    I was the loud obnoxious guy with the Carnie hat and a cigarette...I quit smokin' and quieted down some, so you'll only have the hat to go on now!

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    Member TruBluTex's Avatar
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    Definitely recommend starting off at Ship Creek because of its easy access from both sides + there are loads of areas that have plenty of space. I'm still pretty much a newbie to the fishing up here arriving in June 04 and still learning. Last summer was the first summer I had the chance of trying for a King but came up empty handed. Actually, I brought in a nice 20-25 pounder at Ship Creek that was still bright silver but had to let it go because it was hooked in the back. Good thing I did because there was a cop on the bank watching me the whole time. The hook must be in the mouth in order to keep the fish, otherwise you have to let it go but be sure to keep the fish in the water.

    Another thing I've learned is make sure you have a good, solid knot tied on your lure or hook. I've lost a few because the knot wasn't tied good, so that was a learning experience. akfisherman was correct about how there are people willing to help out a newbie. I've learned a few things simply by asking a stranger but asked someone who brought in a fish or displayed they knew their stuff. Just pay attention to those that are fishing the water and observe how they play their rod. The last thing you want to do is ask for advice from someone who doesn't have a clue as to what they are doing.

    Don't forget to take your hip waders! Also, if you venture down towards the mouth of Ship Creek, just beyond the train bridge, be prepared for a lot of mud! One last thing, if you use a Pixie (spoon w/ color patch) or Vibrax be sure to allow the lure to get close to the bottom before retrieving. Fishing for salmon isn't the same like going for bass, which was the first mistake made by retrieving the lure took quickly and missing the fish.

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    Member akfisherman's Avatar
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    Default good points

    Some reall good advice there....I guess after 20 years, i have forgotten about bass fishing.

    Here is a real important tip. Spend some time watching how the river is being fished. There is a definate style or each river and it varies from river to river, but for the most part you dont actually cast. I mean you don't fling your lure to the other side of the river and retrieve. All you will get is tangled and cussed. The easiest way to explain it is, stand facing the river and gently lob your lure up river at about 2 o'clock then follow the lure down river with your rod tip and retreive at about 10 o'clock by pulling the line through the eyes of the rod with your hand and then gently lob it up stream again. This method is primarilary used in most stream and rivers in alaska. It does not work well with heavy lures like pixies and vibrax. It is more of a modified version of fly fishing. When you follow what others are doing in the body of water that you are fishing, you and everyone else will have a much better experience. This technique is used at Montana, Sheep Goose, Willow, Sue, Russian, Kasilof and a few others. Just remember that on all the rivers that are accessible by the road system, there are a bunch of others trying to catch fish too, and no one wants a pixie in their ear.....There two ways to fish for salmon, one is by snagging and ripping 'em out of the water and the other is a true art and a style of finese. Learn the art and you will be successful any where in alaska.
    What are ya...a fisherman...or a catcherman?

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    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    In paying attention to how the river you are on is fished you should not start throwing a pixee or a vibrax if everyone else is using corkies or spinNglows. Try to use tackle that is similar to what is being used or you will be the problem child. Cast after the guy just downstream of you and you will never tangle with him. Cast approximately the same distance as you see everyone else casting and as described above. If everyone falls into the same rhythm using similar tackle etc. it can be a very pleasant day of fishing while amongst the masses of people. If you so choose to not fall into line with everyone else....well.... if you don't go for a swim or your not lynched from the bank.........you most likely won't have a shot in heck in catching anything because you'll spend 99% of your time untying knots with everyone else.

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    Member MNViking's Avatar
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    I'd like to tag another novice question to this. Since salmon pretty much stop eating when they run upstream is it just a matter of finding the one in a hundred/thousand/million that bites out of reflex or just flossing them and snagging them in the mouth?

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    Default King Salmon fishing

    Ask questions at your local tackle shop. If all they are trying to do is to sell you more stuff, it might be time to go to the next shop. Try to be specific about the area you are targeting. Most outfits want to earn your business by helping you be successful. Sometimes you can find folks with boats that need a hand, they may take you out in exchange for some fuel $$ or help. If they do be sure to help clean up after and you should get another invite. Good luck and catch a big one.

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    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNViking View Post
    I'd like to tag another novice question to this. Since salmon pretty much stop eating when they run upstream is it just a matter of finding the one in a hundred/thousand/million that bites out of reflex or just flossing them and snagging them in the mouth?
    You will get alot of varied opinions to that question, I believe the flossing technique applies to a degree most of the time no matter if your using a fly, spinNglo, spoon or vibrax type lures. In regards to kings and silvers though, they can be caught on bait usually eggs with not much difficulty if they are there.

    If you watch from a bridge on a day when the lighting is right you can see fish dodge lures like they had cancer.

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    Member nibenza's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNViking View Post
    I'd like to tag another novice question to this. Since salmon pretty much stop eating when they run upstream is it just a matter of finding the one in a hundred/thousand/million that bites out of reflex or just flossing them and snagging them in the mouth?
    Reds you are pretty much flossing. Kings are either curious or aggresive. They sometimes will mouth things as they float within their strike range or strike aggresively due their being territorial. The rest generally strike out of aggression or instinct.

    To any biologists, I'm just repeating what i've read, I'm no expert.

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    Member akfisherman's Avatar
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    Default It is all therory

    Some people believe that some species salmon feed in fresh water and some species don't. I am not a bioligist but i can certainly see the therory behind these ideals. For what it is worth, i think that to some degree, all of the therories are correct. I look at my own experiences and how i apply fishing techniques to catch fish. Reds for instance, there is popular belief that reds do not feed in fresh water and they actually swim upstream with their mouth open. The idea is that a fisherman will place his line in the water so that the line passes through the mouth and the lure actually snags the inside of the mouth, with the result being a hooked fish. to some degree I believe in that therory and it certainly helps explain how so many reds get snagged on the outside of the mouth. Kings are also said to stop feeding when they enter fresh water, however they either feed on salmon eggs or they eat salmon eggs as a way on ensuring that their eggs will be fertilized. I tend to agree with the latter. This practice is also found in other species. I have heard that silver feed in fresh water, but my experience with silvers is in salt water. Nevertheless it is all good discussion and of course only the fish really know.

    Everyone has an opinion, just rememeber that it is just an opinion.
    What are ya...a fisherman...or a catcherman?

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    Kings, Silvers, Chums and Pinks will all strike aggressively sockeye will strike just not chase. It of course also depends on the fishing pressure, freshness of the fish, time of day, water temp and number of fish. I'd say silvers are the most agressive followed by chums and kings. Pinks will hit anything that is drifted but thats a sheer numbers thing, I've ran into pinks with lockjaw before. Reds will hit flesh flies and egg patterns (don't ask me why) and small little things like bare red hooks (the trollers in WA and BC have comm fisheries for reds where they troll flashers and bare hooks) they probably don't feed but in general they strike things out of curiosity, anger, instinct or who knows what, but cahnces of finding anything in the belly of a salmon in the river at all is slim to none
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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