Do I Need A Special Rod For Alaska?

Ard

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Many people who are planning a fishing trip north to Alaska may wonder about this question; Do I need a special rod for Alaska? I don’t mean to be ambiguous with my response but the answer is maybe. The rod choices will revolve around what species you are coming to fish for. Keep in mind that the various salmon species are not all here at once so unless you are coming in May and staying until September you won't hit them all.

I'll put forth some info here and perhaps it will be of use or interest as you consider fishing in Alaska. Let's take a look at my experiences with different fish and the tackle I use successfully to catch them.

Grayling: (May - October) These fish generally run around 1 - 2 pounds so trout rods in weights 2 - 6 make a good match.

Arctic Char / Dolly Varden: ( May - October) Depending on the size of the watershed you fish these can range from an 8" fish to a 27 lb. monster. I have landed some large char on typical trout tackle. (7'9" 5wt) If you are headed to a large river with a good char population a 9' 7wt would give you a nice margin for success if you get into a big one. Char are sort of like big brown trout, they do not jump a lot but tend to sulk along the bottom but can produce a series of powerful runs before you bring them in.

Trout / Steelhead : (June - November) Here in Alaska trout means [rainbow] and since many rivers flow into the ocean within a short distance of where you may be fishing, rainbow means [steelhead]. If you fish interior waters where the fish are indigenous the trout may weigh up to or over ten pounds. However, the average rainbow may fall between 1 – 4 lbs. These fish will act pretty much like any wild rainbow trout, fast runs and cart wheeling aerial displays. For trout fishing large rivers your 9' 7wt or 8wt will be plenty of rod. If you have a long rod like a Spey or switch rod the 6 through 8 weight rods will handle most situations for trout here. [Note] South East AK. does offer Cutthroat Trout.

Salmon: I use my 9' 7wt rods for sockeye, pink, and silver salmon. For King salmon I bump up to a 9' 9wt and use a 25 lb tippet. A king here can weigh as much as 97 lbs. if it is your lucky day. Of course if they all weighed that much I would say bring a 12 wt and stock up on 80 lb spider wire, they don't and if you own a 9wt you can get by with one. [Note] If your destination and timing is centered on the King Salmon run and the Kenai River you may want to consider an 11wt rod. I say this because the Kenai consistently produces the largest kings in Alaska. On the Kenai 40lb salmon are common. You can handle them on your 9wt but if you were to hook into the next state record king, you would appreciate the extra muscle of the heaver rod. [Note] Chum salmon do occur in my area but not in great numbers. If I hit a chum run my 7wt will handle any chum I find.

These recommendations are based on my experience fishing here in AK. and are offered as a basis to open the conversation on tackle for Alaska, let's hear what you think. Next we’ll take a look at your reel.

Ard
 

dmwphoto

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very useful. Currently looking at possible the 2nd or 3rd week of July on the Alganak. Need to google a bit more....
 

Ard

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Dave,

The rainbows over there will be large. I have never been to the Bay. If we ever sell the cabin I will make South West my new haunt. I'll PM some info on fishing opportunities over there.
 

wilky

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hi i hope to head up to alaska next year and was thinking of building a 10" 9/10 wt switch rod would it be ok for a king salmon
and do you have any suggestions of a good area to fish for them
many thanks

vince
 

Ard

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Vince,

If you have the right reel you can land a king on darn near any rod. Your choice of rod will be fine for fishing here. Make sure the reel will hold plenty of backing and you will be good.
 

mcnerney

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Do I Need A Special Rod For Alaska? You bet, at least that is what I tell the wife! I had a 4 wt for Grayling, a 4 wt for dollies and rainbows and a 9 wt for salmon, but a guy always needs a new rod, especially planning a trip to Alaska, right! Oh yes, don't forget the 44 mag! If you have one you will never see a bear, if you forget, well things could get ugly.

Larry
 

wilky

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do you think i would need to carry a gun for bears i dont really want to fish parts that i call tourist river where peopple fish often theres no real fun in it i like to get away from civilization to a degree so i can relax and fish and not let any of lifes problems get to me but i dont want to be eaten by a bear and i am not exactly the luckiest person

vince
 

mcnerney

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Vince: If you don't carry a gun and are fishing alone, I would at least get a big can of bear spray! If you're fishing with a guide or with a group you probably will be ok, just be sure you are making noise as you move around in the brush or along trails.

Larry
 

mrfzx

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Wilky, I have been up to the Ak 12 times in twelve years. For the first 5 years i carried a LARGE caliber handgun, and never saw a bear within 100 yards of me....black or brown. So I quit carrying one up from pennsylvania with me. 3 years ago, the sockeye piled up in Skilak Lake and for some reason would run out, and on up the Kenai. That year, the first week of August, I saw 17 bear in one day, 10 of them browns. I had no gun. The crowds were down, and I wish fishing near the ferry at the Russian River sanctuary. Two, two year old brown bear cubs (each about 500 pounds) stole my backpack and shredded it looking for the Hershey bar I had in the front pouch. The back pack was on shore less that 3 steps from me when they stole it. I had blackies that trip within 2 feet of me looking for my stringer. With all that said, I didn't need a gun, but if it would have turned ugly.......well I don't think about it.

The very next year, the 454 was on my hip. Oh, if you are not VERY familiar with drawing and firing a huge handgun rapidly under a pressure situation,(practice, practice, practice) leave the gun at home. Buy the bear spray...results vary, but you are more likely to be successful with pepper spray than with an unpracticed handgun. Just my opinion.
 

Frank Whiton

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dmwphoto, if you don't have your plans made by now you may not be able to go this year. The Alganak Lodge is pretty popular and don't have a lot of openings each year. At least that use to be the case.

Vince, I fished and hunted all over Alaska and never carried a side arm. My partner always had his 44 mag on his hip so I never bothered. Of course when hunting we always had a rifle in hand. I think if you don't have a lot of practice shooting at moving game with a sidearm you will be much better off with a large can of pepper spray. Away from the river walking through bear brush your best precaution is to make noise. When you are on a river with bears and Salmon the bear is more interested in the Salmon. The biggest mistake you can make is to startle a bear. Most of the time the bear will beat feet but you just never know. We didn't have bear spray back in the 70's and noise was our best friend.

Just in case a bear decides he doesn't like you they may do a false charge or stand and rattle their teeth. You need to move off slowly and get out of what he considers his territory. Never turn and run, that is what food does.

I think talking is the best way to keep bears alert to your presence. Brush covered riverbanks will have many bear trails. Make sure if you move away from one bear you don't walk into another one. If for some reason you are alone you still need to talk. I use to walk around saying, Hello Bear, Whats up Mr. Bear and so on. Some people use to carry bells that jingled as they walked. I never liked that idea because bears are inquisitive. I was always afraid they might come to see what the devil that noise was.

Frank
 

2PawsRiver

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Hmmmmm, which rod to take. First time I went to Alaska, I took 18 rods. Now in my defense there were three other guys going and a couple were spares for them.

The last time I went I took 3 rods. My primary is a custom built 5/6 wt and I took a 5 wt St. Croix as a spare and I took one heavy spinning rod for Red Fishing.:D

First time we took 2 pistol grip 12 guages and one .357 pistol. I replaced the 12 guage with a SW 500. There were 9 of us on the second trip and a couple guys took smaller revolvers .44's.:)

Both trips we spent quite a bit of time in "Bear Country" and saw a handfull of bears from as close as sniffing around our tents and standing on the River with us to lumbering across the trails we were on.

Best weapon I took was advice from Alaskans, others who have been there, and books that were recommended.

When the bear came into our campsite, while it made us all a bit big eyed. Nobody paniced. When I spoke to the park ranger and told him we would be camping along the Russian River he told me there would be a good chance bears may come around our tents.

We expected it would happen and made sure there was no food in the tents, the area was clean and while curioustiy may bring them in, we made sure there was nothing there to keep him around.

For many reasons I consider my trips to Alaska to be periods of time where I was living life to the fullest.

This should give you a laugh.

 

NVYDVR1

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I heard that bear scat in Alaska smells like fly fisherman seasoned with pepper.
 

dicosmoecus

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vince
I fished the situk river last yr,and had my 44 in plain site in the boat.
we saw black bear ,lots of evidence of other bear and MOOSE,just as dangerous.
we were not in need of the firearm,but dang glad it was on board,better to have and not need ,than need and not have.
you may want to consider going on alsakas fish and wildlife pg and looking at their tutorial for bear,good to be informed ,cuz each species of bear acts different.
have a good trip.
moe
 
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