Late season Kings can be a fickle thing. Pushes of fewer fish can make the search for fresh Chinooks a day long effort of swinging bars hoping for a grab. Alaska West clients in Week 5 this year found that with patience and hard work, late season Kings are worth the effort. Heavier sink tips came into play during this week and our anglers swung as light as 10ft. of T-14 all the way up to 20ft. of T-17.
This year we had some sun in Week 5 and fly selections for Kings were representative of that. Most fish were caught on smaller profiled patterns in dark colors with a generous amount of flash. Several fish were even taken on Temple Dog style Atlantic Salmon patterns, which gives one an idea of optimum fly size and profile for sunny weather Kings.
Some anglers in Week 5 found that the Chums and Pinks that were pouring into the river were just as fun to target as the Kings, and fishing surface patterns could enhance that fun by adding the excitement of seeing the fish take the fly. Surface bugs for salmon don’t need to be fancy. A hot pink foam bass popper fixed to a heavy salmon hook worked well in Week 5 and the durability of that simple fly ensured that many of them would live on to see action in Week 6.
Dolly Varden fishing was in full effect for Week 5 and “the bead” was a sure thing on any shallow gravel bar or slow moving side channel. For Dollies, the bead color and size did not particularly matter and painting was unnecessary. Rainbows could still be taken on mice and Sculpins around snags and structure, but a few had already taken up positions behind the first spawning Pinks and Chums. These fish holding behind spawners fell victim to beads as well, but the beads used in pursuit of Rainbows were coated with a variety of top secret nail polishes.