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Thread: Question on King salmon behavior: flood vs ebb tides

  1. #1
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    Default Question on King salmon behavior: flood vs ebb tides

    I'm already planning a trip next June for king salmon, and looking at the tide charts, there's due to be some major flood tides in Ketchikan/Prince of Wales area. Like 23 feet from high to low (18.57 high to -4.42 low). Or I can go during a week with 10 to 12 foot ebb tide differences (13.36 high to 1.84 low).

    I know that bigger tides makes spawning salmon charge up the rivers, but what effects does it have on feeding kings in saltwater? My feeling is to pick the ebb tides simply because it'll be easier to troll in lighter currents. Also - and I may be very wrong on this - it seems like the baitfish, salmon, etc would spend less energy fighting the currents and be more likely to congregate at various structure points.

    Any wisdom y'all would care to share?

  2. #2

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    Dunno Southeastern from the moon, but in our waters big tides affect both where you find the kings and how you fish them. They actually like fast currents, or at least what the current does to bait. Kings will hang out in or near shelter from the current and dash out into it to snag baitfish fighting the heavy water. It becomes a game of finding those sheltered spots and fishing close to them. Just a whole lot of local knowledge in that, at least around here.

    Something to remember with fish- speed is a function of body length, and the longer the fish the faster they can swim compared to shorter ones. Kings have it all over bait in strong currents, and they like it that way.
    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
    Merle Haggard

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    Member carolinaboy's Avatar
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    I can't give you any tide difference/fish behavior answers, nor much about the K-town area fisheries, nor much wisdom for that matter either ...but I can give you some King info on the POW fisheries.

    One- there are no King Salmon spawning rivers on POW ...AFAIK.

    Two - there is a terminal fishery in Port Saint Nick bay and in the last 6-8 years a few Kings have either jumped the weir on the Klawock or gone up the ladder through the hatchery to the lake.

    Three - all the Kings are either passing through ( like the big Skeena river strain Kings) or are year round feeders.

    Four- were it me and I wanted the best shot at the biggest Kings I would pick the latest week in June possible regardless of the tides

    That is based on the King regs next year being the same as this year and last. Which is during May and June a non-resident angler can harvest 2 per day for a 6 fish annual limit and that the bigger fish tend to show up closer to July than May ...but could be cruising through anytime.

    We had no problems getting limits during mid June when I was there. Most were cookie cutters - avg 18 #. One of the 3 lodge boats had a 35# King that week. We hit the same usual spots each day with the charter fleet on the outside west of Craig. Sometimes a dozen boats would be plying the same little bay trolling and mooching.

    Disclaimer: Now with all that said....a POW or K-town resident may toss it out the window and say come on the flood tide for your best chance at getting kings.

    PM if you want more pertinent details.

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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    It really depends on the location, and I don't mean Ketchikan, vs Homer-Kodiak, I mean this point to this reef to this pass. Some spots fish best on a major flood, but 1/2mile away this area fishes best on a slack tide. And sometimes it depends on how you fish it, I have a few spots where one of my king buds loves the slack to ebb, but it fishes best for me on the flood. Call the local guides and get their input.
    Life's to short for an ugly boat

    Blaze N Abel Charters
    Kodiak, AK
    www.alaska-fish.com
    https://www.facebook.com/BlazeNAbelCharters/?fref=ts

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Zeek View Post
    ...it seems like the baitfish, salmon, etc would spend less energy fighting the currents and be more likely to congregate at various structure points.
    Coupla things to keep in mind-

    Kings are really light sensitive. On bright days they're going to stay mostly deep unless there's a lot of bait up closer to the surface to lure them up.

    And kings, especially the big ones, are ambush predators. The smaller kings seem perfectly happy to be out there in the open water running down bait, but if it's available those big guys will be using the cover. They'll rocket out to hit, but then go right back in behind structure or right into the middle of kelp beds to wait for their next snack.

    Kings also like to crash bait into things like reefs and up into the shallows. If it's an overcast day with chop, you'll see them chasing bait up into belly scratching shallows. Everyone thinks of kings as deep open water fish, but that's only a good rule with deep bait and bright light. That's also why some of the best fishing is at first and last light each day without regard for the tides.

    On strange water, especially with expensive downrigger gear dangling below you, I'd be all set up to mix a bunch of mooching into your day. You can get lots closer to cover with cheaper gear, and likely catch more and bigger kings as a stranger on the water. We catch about half our kings while mooching and about 90% of our silvers. And we know the rocks and reefs like our back yard.
    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
    Merle Haggard

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    Short answer....not really. As a wise man once told me "They don't get that big in four years by not eating". Each area and structure will be a little different. In a perfect world fish the slacks and an hour before and after. Like any area though, floods and ebbs will hold fish in different locations. Out here in Sitka it does not seem to matter much. Then again IMO we have access to the best salmon sport fishing in all of Alaska...err.. the world. And the sheer number of fish out there makes anyone into an all star. I work for a boat rental service and have had complete newbs limit a boat out in a matter of minutes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    It becomes a game of finding those sheltered spots and fishing close to them. Just a whole lot of local knowledge in that, at least around here.
    Ok, sounds good. I know the local waters where I like to fish fairly well (caught my annual limit of kings fishing solo last year). Just wanted to get the best timing possible for next year.

    Thanks guys!

  8. #8

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    You're rolling. Have a ball out there! With those tides and currents, save your last slot for a really big one dredged out of the sheltered water in tight cover. You'll be glad you did!
    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
    Merle Haggard

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