At Alaska West we fish as hard in our last week as we do in our first week. In this year’s closing act, we fished our wader clad asses off. Week 11 saw a mix of rain and sun, with a couple of unbelievable days of high wind.
Throughout the entire week though, the fishing stayed good as our tactics began to change as the lower Kuskokwim Delta came under the spell of fall. While the fishing for bright, chrome Silvers stayed consistent, we began to catch many more fish that were beginning to turn crimson in preparation to spawn. The wog remained the weapon of choice for fishing early in the day and a heavily weighted pink or cerise bunny leech took care of the remainder.
The Rainbow and Dolly fishing began to make a change late in the season as well. Many of the Dollies disappeared from what was left of the Chum spawning flats and headed up river to spawn themselves. Some did continue to hang behind the few fish still dropping eggs, but one had to look for them somewhat harder than in the weeks prior.
Those looking to sight fish for Rainbows found them in side channels that had not been as subject to Week 10’s higher water. Some of the channels had been wiped clean of spawning salmon by the higher flows, leaving them empty and devoid of “egg eaters”. The channels that did still harbor Chums, were almost fishing better than they had all season and one could sense the on coming winter with the urgent ferocity with which the Rainbows would rush to take a well drifted bead.
Late season bead fishing requires anglers to scale back both tippet and hook sizes, and use a more stealthy approach as they present their egg imitations to educated fish. While small hooks and light line make for some harrowing battles in tight cover and heavy flow, the benefits out weigh the losses. So with a lighter touch and bit of guile, our guides showed our Week 11 anglers that we continue to save some of the best for last.