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Old 03-11-2011, 08:25 PM
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Default The Alaskan Story Threads;

This sticky thread will be the home for stories I have written about fishing for salmon and trout here in Alaska. If you have spent time here and wish to post your own story in the thread please feel welcome to do so. Until I figure out how to place these tales into the articles here this is going to be their home.

---------- Post added at 05:25 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:20 PM ----------

How bout them Kings…………………

When a fly fisherman day dreams of Alaska certain images are prevalent in those thoughts. Such things as wild rivers on the edge of the world teeming with willing salmon may be among them. Add in the Alaskan Brown Bear catching fish with ease along the shore line while a bald eagle jealously eyes the bears catch and the image starts to take shape right? Well that’s the way it can be here in Alaska but sometimes it takes awhile to get all of the players together, including you. Even after years of honing your skills and compiling a collection of the best salmon fishing gear available there can still be some unexpected developments once you are actually here.

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Me, I didn’t come here just to fish I came here because of a job and I figured that fishing would be a great fringe benefit. You might think that if you were living in Alaska you would be able to limit out on your king salmon stamp every year, right? It’s not always an easy thing to do; you are allowed one fish per day with a season total of five king salmon. I had a few really good years when I first moved to Anchorage. Of course I traveled all over the area, From Talkeetna to Homer and over to Seward. If a road would get me there I went. I was and still am mesmerized by the splendor that seems to be lurking just around the next turn. By the end of my first fishing season I had wet a line in most of the well known rivers and creeks accessible by the AK. road system but guess where I did my best king salmon fishing?

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Now you’re probably thinking I chartered a float plane and had the pilot take me to the most rugged and remote corner of the state but what I did was far from that. Traveling to the bush requires that you have both the time and the assets to first get there and secondly, stay long enough to get your monies worth. So after weighing all of the circumstances that I had on my plate I did what many of the urban bound fishermen who reside in Alaska’s largest city, (Anchorage) do. The natural course of action was to get it done close to home meaning ‘urban salmon fishing’ and quite possibly urban salmon at its best.

Low Tide @ Ship in winter, I need a better shot but you get it; right?

Now just imagine a sunnu June day in a city of over 300,000 people and the word is out, Kings are In!

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First of all, getting used to combat fishing for kings in downtown Anchorage’s Ship Creek is not for the faint of heart by any stretch of the imagination. I am a veteran of Great Lakes tributaries fishing and even that can’t properly prepare you for the action at ‘Ship’ as it’s known to Anchorians. The main differences are that the area of Ship open to salmon fishing is very close to the ocean inlet and the tides experienced there are extreme. Add to this the fact that the creek runs right into one of the busiest sea ports on the west coast and you can see the Anchorage Hilton from your spot while you fish and it’s a little different than most salmon fishers are looking forward to. The crowd of hopeful king salmon fishermen & women are a factor also but mastering the tide is the key for success there. In my first few visits I found that a person’s physical height was a very big asset also. I’m six foot five inches tall and quickly learned that my height enabled me to wade down the river as the tide was going out ahead of about everyone else. After learning the strata of the river channel I was able to get to the sweet spots first and establish a beachhead of sorts as the land becomes exposed with every few inches of receding water. As the river level drops the current returns and the lies become visible. If a pod of fresh fish has come in on the tide the action is fast and furious to say the least. Knowing where to cast and how many split shot to apply to the leader are crucial to a quick hookup. I must add that having a good technique for handling & landing a King that can weigh up to 50 pounds is a must although I have hooked many bright chrome flanked fish that could not be handled by any means. King salmon in Alaska can grow to proportions exceeding 80 Lbs. but Ship Creeks escapement consists of hatchery reared fish and they seldom pass the 35 Lb. mark.

A Ship Creek Favorite;

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Surprisingly I found that I was sharing the beat along the creek channel with some of the same people every day that I was there, which was almost every day! It may seem not to be the place where you would make alliances with other fishermen and to share patterns and techniques but it was in fact no different than fishing anywhere else. The true fly fishermen tended to gravitate toward one another and we shared the honey holes with great regard for fishing ethics and manners. Bonds were formed like I had not had with strangers in all my years of fishing so I must say the experience was both enlightening and enriching at once. In the years since my experiences at Ship, I have fished many of our rivers and creeks for king salmon but my memories of fishing right next to the salt in downtown Anchorage remain as very fond ones. My most exciting king salmon fishing stories were all spawned along the beat on Ship Creek. It seems to me that the fish hooked there just simply go wild, I mean jumping and running with a tremendous level of strength. When I fish the rivers of the interior it always seems that I can pretty well stand my ground while fighting a king, but back on Ship I often found myself chasing one back toward the salt even on a nine weight rod equipped with a twenty five pound test leader. You see, after the fish have traversed miles and miles of fresh water rivers to reach the creeks along the Parks Highway in the Matanuska Valley where I now live they quickly lose that bright chrome appearance and begin to turn sort of blush pink or magenta on their flanks.

Pictured are some European fishermen with a SuSitna King;

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They quickly learn to avoid people and the many flies & lures that are hurled at them wherever they show themselves. The meat of the fish also begins to deteriorate quickly once they are in the river systems and often they can be landed without any streamside sprinting just to keep up as they run. I constantly find myself thinking of returning to Ship to recapture some of that excitement I felt when I had first came to this wonderful place and to look for some of my first fishing acquaintances that I have left behind years ago in that urban fisherman’s paradise known simply as Ship.

A 19 lb. Ship King;

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Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors
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