Week Three Report
Anadromous fishing, no matter which location or species, is always a little bit of a gamble. While historic run timing for kings is pretty darn reliable on the Kanektok, there’s always that nervous anticipation until the plane lands in Quinhagak and you get the report from the anglers on their way out of camp.
The plane taxied off the runway and came to a stop next to the infamous AK West “Short Bus”. I could see the big grin on Charles St. Pierre’s face from the airplane window. I stepped off the plane and he greeted me, “Hope you have some twenty pound tippet because the big boys are here… We wailed on them” were his words. In an instant that nervous anticipation turned into the reality that we were positioned perfectly for anadromous bliss.
The weather report for the next six days was highs in the mid-sixties with mostly cloudy skies and a 40% chance of showers – perfect weather for kings. The tide set up was ideal, putting us in the ‘push” of fish every morning. To top it off, the river was at a prime level for swinging flies. If you spend enough time chasing salmon and steelhead, every once in a while the roulette ball lands on your color, and our gamble was about to pay off.
I’ll spare you the details of the play-by-play action, mostly because there are just too many stories to tell. However, I will say that we caught salmon until our arms were ready to fall off. Huge salmon! An angler named Fritz … landed the fish of the week that measured out at 45.5 inches, around 45 pounds. My biggest fish was a beautiful buck that tapped at 42” x 25”. The thing was a toad! Epic is too weak of a word to describe how much fun we had at Alaska West last week.
While the fun factor was certainly influenced by great fishing, the staff at Alaska West was the best I’ve seen in my three years on the K-tok. The guides were in the groove and really went out of their way to make it a great trip for everyone. More so, all the folks behind the scenes kept camp running like a well-oiled machine. As guests, it’s easy to miss how difficult it is to juggle the logistics of running a camp in the Alaskan bush. There are a lot of places that have great fishing in Alaska – it’s the staff that makes AK West clients return year after year.
So there’s the dirt on week three. Everyone in camp left tired and satisfied. Our thirst for the greatest anadromous fish was quenched. For a few, it was the trip of a lifetime. For most of us though, our satisfaction will slowly fade only to be replaced by that old feeling of nervous anticipation and the thought of fishing at Alaska West again next season.