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  • Mike Sanders, Alaska West.
    United States, Alaska
  • Condition of Equipment:
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  • Highlights of the Trip:
    Each minute of each day is a highlight in and of itself. We had previously experienced the 50+ silver salmon days at Alaska West and we realized King fishing was different. The first afternoon we arrived at camp at 2 pm. We were on the water by 3. My 18 year old son, a veteran fisherman even at his young age, could hardly wait to jump out of the boat at Zoo bar, the first gravel bar at which we stopped. I was watching the 2nd cast my son made, as Matt, our guide, was attaching the 300 grain head to my line. Halfway through the swing, the tip of his rod went from parallel to the water to nearly in it. Line was screaming from his reel as Matt said, "jump in the boat, it looks like we're chasing this one." 15 minutes and three bends in the river later, Jason was back on shore. As Matt scooped up Jason's first King, he looked at me and smiled; a look I will never forget and only a Dad can appreciate. The cast per hookup ratio is quite different for Kings than it is for Silvers or Chums, but that soon became the attraction. Fishing is so good in Alaska that catching a silver is surely fun but hardly an accomplishment. When one is hooking up 10-15 times per day and landing half of those, a hookup brought with it a huge sense of accomplishment, in addition to the unique feel as a King surges on the end of your line. Even now, 5 months later, I can still replicate the mental and physical feeling of a King hookup in my mind. We are heading back in 2010 and that feeling was the deciding factor in whether to go the first of July or in August for Silvers. Another day, we were fishing from the anchored-up jet boat on Puppy Bar. I hooked what ended up being a smaller 15 pound King. The guide and I literally jumped off the boat into four feet of water, waded to the gravel bar to land it. We hadn't been on shore for two minutes when Jason hooked up. Jason's fish immediately took off up the river and around the corner of the opposite gravel bar. Matt left me the net as he waded back to the boat. They immediately took off up river chasing the King. I was just about ready to net my small King, when Matt and Jason came flying around the corner. Jason was in the front of the boat, his line in the water 30 feet ahead of him. It looked like the fish was pulling the boat. They disappeared around the first corner down river. I had released my fish, when they came back now headed upstream. Matt was screaming "net, net". I waded out and did my best javelin imitation with the long handled net. By the grace of God, I hit the boat without spearing Jason or Matt. I watched from across the river as Jason hopped out and they netted his 40 pound King. Twenty minutes later we were back in the boat, again anchored up out from Puppy Bar, when Jason hooked up again. This fish would run out 50 yards, turn and head back and go 50 yards the other direction and return. About the fourth pass by the fish came right by us, not three feet from the boat only a foot or so under the surface. It was creating its own wake as it came by. It was huge. It was significantly bigger than the one he had just landed. All Matt could say was "holy shit, holy shit". It jumped 30 yards later and was gone, but I will never forget the sight and sounds of the "holy shit" fish. The next day, I hooked up and the fish started to do this same 50 yard back and forth strategy. On the third trip by, it suddenly turned 90 degrees and headed straight for the opposite shore about 20 yards below us. Matt yelled, " be ready. He's going to turn quickly." The fish however didn't hear him and literally ran right up into 6 inches of water. There was my big King flopping around on the opposite side of the river. My fly came loose and all we could do was watch as it flopped into deeper water and was gone. Alaska West also had a "spey casting" teacher at camp during our week to either teach you how to spey cast or improve your technique. After dinner the first evening, he had 7 people out in front of camp. I f
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