Today marks the start of our 2009 season at Alaska West. Our setup crew has been hard at work for the past few weeks getting our camp ready, and our first group of guests arrive today. The afternoon and evening will be spent unpacking, plotting strategies and unveiling secret new king flies. Tomorrow morning at about 8:02 Alaska Daylight Time, Skagit-style spey lines will be swinging in front of hot chrome kings.
Dec Hogan, Ed Ward, Tom Larimer, Jeff Hickman and an unusually well-traveled set of anglers are on hand for this first week of king fishing, and the level of excitement building up to and during this week is higher than ever. To be honest, anyone associated with Alaska West is as giddy as a little girl right now.
Why are we all so excited?
- The anticipation of the early run. Every year’s king run is different, and we’re all asking ourselves, each other, and the river the same set of questions. When are they going to show up in numbers? How big will the run be this year? Is today going to be the day I’ve been dreaming about? Anadromous fish like our kings are a miracle, and wondering what’s to come gets us pretty fired up.
- Every fish is hot and chrome. One thing that’s consistent year to year is that the first kings of the season are the hottest, the strongest and the most likely to crush flies. These fish are largely upper-river spawners blasting their way through. By definition they haven’t been in the river for long, so each fish, without exception, is dime bright.
- The river changes every year. The Kanektok is a low gradient river with gravel bars that push back and forth within the historic river channel. For those of us fortunate enough to fish it every year, it’s a lot of fun to discover a new river this week. Some runs are gone, some new ones have formed and some look the same but fish differently than they have in the past. Figuring it all out every year keeps us on our toes!
- We’ve got pent-up excitement about summer fishing. Yes, we’ve been fishing in the Bahamas and in Chile and in all of our own backyards, but we haven’t been on the Kanektok since September! Summer on the Kanektok is incredible, and this week starts three months on our Alaskan summer playground.
- It’s quite a cast of characters. Early season king fishing isn’t for everyone. You might not get a grab some days. Landing kings on fly rods is difficult. The guests who join us this week are a passionate, hard-core, and…let’s just say ‘quirky’ bunch. They’re a core part of a pretty neat scene on the river this week and we look forward to seeing them every year.
You can follow our summer season on Facebook.