We asked Trevor to put together his favorite rig for chasing silvers at Alaska West, and he delivered that and a heck of a lot more. If you want to suck up the highlights of 7 years of fishing and guiding for silvers in just a few minutes, read on.
To this day I can remember my first silver salmon on the Kanektok. Being 14 years old there was no hesitation to skip 14 days of football practice and school to float the mighty Kanektok. My uncle and I pulled into a stagnant piece of water off the side of the main river. We knew what we were after but I had never thought to look here.
I hopped out of the raft and stood in the sand next to Jon as we both glassed the pool. I couldn’t believe my eyes as we watched wake after wake of silvers cruising the pool in confusion. Fins followed by the occasional hook-nosed beak of a salmon would break the water. I unhooked the 9 weight rod rigged with a egg sucking leech and made my cast. The fly hit the water and I got about half a strip in before the line came tight, followed by chaos.
The fish jumped 4 times before deciding to give up – a nice 8 pound male and as chrome as the ball on your trailer hitch. This went on for an hour…can you imagine being a kid in the middle of Alaska with this kind of action? I was in heaven – that moment along with countless others on that river decided my fate. I wanted to be a guide and I never thought I would have that chance on the river of my dreams. The Kanektok and Arolik Rivers are amazing and they will take your breath away.
Disclaimer: If you don’t want a sore shoulder from railing on fish after fish, stop reading this post.
- 9 foot 8 weight Winston BIIx
- Galvan R-8 Reel
- Scientific Anglers GPX WF #8
- 20lb Dacron backing attached to the spool with an arbor knot
- Fly line tied to backing using a Bimini twist
- Butt section of leader tied to the line with an Albright knot
- Built leader to 20 pound Maxima. These fish are not leader shy.
- Leave your sinking lines at home – there’s no need on our rivers.
Presentation and Fly Selection
To start the day in August, I’ll pull up to a spot and have both my anglers start at the same time. This almost 100% of the time turns into a double. The first rule in silver fishing is throw the top water poppers or wogs first. This will target the most aggressive fish in the group, and can give the chance to see some insane takes.
For both poppers and weighted streamers the best presentation is moving fast. I will do long strips so I can feel takes much easier. Most of the time all you’ll feel is your line coming tight – then set it!
With poppers you want to cause a steady disturbance, so not moving super fast. 6 inch strips – you want to hear blub, blub, blub as the popper pushes water. For streamers, anything with weighted eyes and in pink works – I don’t think I changed color one time last season.
The only time you need to change colors is in these situations – low clear water, hot sunny days, and/or a group of fish you have already beat up on for an hour. Different color choices include black, purple, and flesh. Avoid chartreuse at all costs.
- Gravel bars
- At the end of long gravel bars where the willows start again
- Tide water – My favorite for the hottest fish in the river.
- If there is one color of fly in your box make sure it’s pink.
- Do not baby these fish or they will crush you, then spit the fly.
- Do not fish a 10 pound leader!
- Have a shore lunch and see what silvers can do for your taste buds.
- Treat all the fish with respect – they deserve it, no matter what the species.
- Have a blast!