Alaska Page 2 - FISHING!
The annual salmon runs are a major event in Alaska, especially on the Kenai River where all of the world's record salmon have been caught. People come from all over the world to fish salmon. I met people from Australia, Texas, Montana and Oklahoma.
There are five species of salmon that are fished here. The biggest, and hardest to catch are the Chinook (King salmon) which can weigh close to 100 pounds. Next are the Cohos (silvers) and the Sockeye (reds). There are also pinks (Humpies) and chum but they are not particularly good eating.
The reds were running when we were there and the silvers were just starting to come in when we left. Our host has the perfect fishing spot with a point that juts out in the river. The salmon tend to gather in the backwater around his boat ramp for a rest and then run through a channel of rocks right off the point. At times we could see hundreds swimming by heading upstream to spawn.
The river itself is the most amazing turquoise blue color since it is mostly glacier melt. It is roaring by in the summer but goes down to a trickle in the winter when the melt stops.
We didn't waste much time in getting to the river for some fishing. Salmon fishing requires a different technique than I am used to. The salmon are not feeding, they are just swimming upstream to spawn and die. The technique is to cast only about 10-15 feet of line and draw back across the current. The idea is to pull your line across the current and be lucky enough to have a salmon swim right onto it with it's open mouth. When you feel a hit, you jerk the line and set the hook. That sounds like a pretty long shot but there are so many fish swimming upstream it actually works. Some people simply jerk their lines across hoping to snag a fish, which also works.
You might cast 100 times before you get a hit but sometimes they are coming through so thick that you can get several hits in a few minutes. Gil loves his custom built fly rod.
We did fish with some pink yarn on the hook just in case we drop one right in front of a fish and it instinctively takes it. My little camp knife came in handy for snipping off excess line.
Gil had the best first day with two nice reds. Me and Huk had several hooked but they got off before we could land them. Salmon are big powerful fish that are masters at getting off your hook or getting into the strong current and snapping your line. They also often catch you by surprise when you have made 50 casts without a hit and then suddenly BANG and your line takes off before you can react and set your hook.
You catch 'em, you clean 'em. This IS Gil Hibben so of course he has a custom knife handy.
The females are full of eggs.
Some nice filets.
It was a good day. We finished up with some great dinner of fresh halibut and Huk entertained us with some picking. Huk is really an accomplished guitar player who once played backup for Neil Diamond. Now, as a ninth degree black belt in Kenpo Karate, he travels the world teaching Kenpo. Notice how light it is outside. This is at 10:00 PM.
Huk and a local, Mike, did some impromptu jamming with the blues. Gil can be heard playing the rhythm bones in the background.
Monday was another day of fishing and relaxing.
I got my first salmon.
By the end of the day me and Gil had put together a pretty good string.
The seagulls were busy fishing too.
We are getting a good start on a nice pile of salmon to take back home with us.