NOTE: This entry from George is intended for the intermediate to advanced anadromous angler. If you’re new to swinging flies for kings, you might want to have a look at 10 Tips for Swinging Flies for Kings first.
King season on the Kanektok basically lasts for 5 weeks – from the second week of June through the second week of July. In the course of those 5 weeks there will be something new each week in terms of water conditions, as well as fish travel and holding pattern.
The first week or two [the second and third weeks of June] often feature the highest water of the year. With that, kings often nose into back sloughs, along with slough/main current edge-water, along with soft water anywhere they can find it, for a bit of a rest. They also travel really close to the gravel bars – the fish are sucked in tight on the bars because they don’t want to work hard moving up the bars in the heavier water further out.
What fails a lot of new anglers is that high water requires lesser sinktips and low water requires heavier. High water kings seek out the soft, edgy slough stuff and lower water kings seek out the guts of the main channel.
During the first couple of weeks of the season, you may find yourself fishing short, lesser tips like a type 6, or a 7 foot length of T-14. As week 3 and 4 [the last week in June and the first week in July] unfold, kings fishing will require more ‘normal’ types of sinktip lines. Spey anglers will begin to utilize 10, 13, 15′ sections of T-14 and T-17, sometimes in conjunction with intermediate cheaters where applicable on longer rods.
As the water drops, particularly in weeks 3, 4 and 5, the heaviest tips of the year will come into play. Both traveling and holding fish will be found in the deepest buckets, and main channel ‘dredge lanes’. It’s at this point where there’s no such thing as too deep when it comes to sinktip use, and to get really deep might take a lot more tip than you think. In most water conditions, even a 13-15’ piece of T-14 is probably fishing no deeper than 36-48” under the surface, particularly when connected to a 80-105 foot spey cast.