The middle of August at Alaska West is considered the peak of the Silver Salmon run, with the 9th and 10th weeks of our season seeing the both the largest pushes of fish and the most anglers targeting them. This year during Week Nine, as the Silvers made their way up the river, many long time Alaska West veterans were there to intercept them.
Typically the weather is mid August is very conducive to salmon fishing. Cold and wet is the standard forecast this time of year and the lower light levels and higher water associated with this weather seem to make the fish more aggressive. This year, however, the sun shined down on the Kanektok for the entire week, casting a shadow of doubt over how the salmon fishing would play out for our repeat anglers. It was now up to the guides to prove that Silvers could be caught in the sun with the same frequency as in the rain.
The recipe for sunny day salmon is similar to the recipe for fishing in any adverse condition. Lengthen your leader, tie on a sparse fly, and adapt your presentation to the situation and you will almost always catch more fish. The fly pattern of choice for these conditions was none other than the ever fishy Clouser Minnow. Flies tied with pink or chartreuse buck tail, ample flash, and pair of heavy lead eyes seemed to do the trick. Anglers also caught fish on jig style flies and beads fished under indicators. Dead drifting large beads is one of the most effective ways to catch holding Silver Salmon. Far from traditional, bead fishing is great way for open minded anglers to put a bend in their rods on tough days.
The Rainbows and Dollies didn’t mind the sun during Week Nine and the anglers who were targeting them didn’t find it to be a bad thing either. The almighty bead still reigned as the top “fly” for yet another week and dead eggs took prominence on the color pallete. While the Chums and Pinks continued to spawn in the side channels making for great sight fishing, some of these fish began fade and die off. This die off turned on the flesh bite in the lower reaches of both the Kanektok and the Arolik and yielded some large fish for those anglers patient enough to fish the snags and drop offs with bulky flies and stiff rods.