The time many of you have all been waiting for is finally here. Yesterday marked the opening day of our local king and sockeye season! We heard a couple reports of people finding some fish in Lena yesterday, as well as around Auke Bay. The expected forecast is right about average so there should be good opportunities for kings for the next month or so. With the hot weather we have been having the fish generally sink deeper into the cooler water so the days when we get overcast skies and a little rain will be good times to try your luck. Remember only the terminal areas are open to retention until the 15th of June. After the 15th everywhere is open to keeping kings.
King salmon are the largest of the pacific species. This means that when choosing a proper rod size you want to use a 9’ 8wt at the minimum. Oftentimes people who fish kings will use a dedicated 10wt rod and a reel with a strong drag. For anglers on a budget the Echo Boost Blue is an absolutely killer entry level rod for saltwater fishing. Another great option if you are looking for a “made in the USA” stick is the Sage Maverick . Paired with a saltwater reel such as the Hatch Iconic 9 Plus or Sage Spectrum Max Reels either of these set ups will serve you well for any king salmon encounters you have. While 8wts are the minimum I recommend for folks fishing kings, it can be done. I generally suggest when using an 8wt people size down on the leader. A 20lb leader is great for kings, but consider dropping down to 16lb when using a lighter rod. You may be more likely to break off a king, but you will save your rod and a repair fee! Mr. Bodangles is hands down the king salmon fly for us here in Juneau. The way the rubber legs move on this pattern elicit grabs more than any other fly out there. Other flies that routinely produce fish are going to be MEGA Dolly Llama , Checkmate , Rockstar , Guide Intruder, and Stu's Chinook Intruder. At this point in the season the colors you want to be using are pink, pink/white, chartreuse, and chartreuse/white.
We haven’t received any reports from Windfall Creek as June 1 was the first day you could try your hand at sockeye fishing. Even though it has been very dry and hot, the snowpack from last year has managed to keep water levels nice and high. Either a 7wt or 8wt fly rod is the ticket for these fish. The Sage Sonic is essentially the freshwater equivalent to the Sage Maverick and is a fantastic choice due to its softer flex. A slightly softer rod will help a lot when you are fishing in streams and rivers due to the fact that they can perform roll casts and mends with a higher degree of control. For this sockeye fishery you are going to want to be drifting small flies and controlling the depth. This can be done by using a strike indicator or by using a tight line “high sticking” technique. This technique involves keeping the rod tip high and raising it up or down to manually control the depth of the fly. Sockeye salmon are mainly filter feeders so the flies we use for them are drastically different from those we throw at other species. Small sparse flies are the ticket here. Montana Brassie, Copper Swan , Sockeye Lantern , Sockeye Lightning , and Mercer's Sockeye Fly are all patterns that belong in your fly box. Fish them on a 12lb Rio 9ft Leader. Using a little split shot to get it down is needed.
Last but not least, Dolly Varden fishing has continued to be red hot! Now that we are getting into June it’s time to start fishing bigger flies. The chum smolt are 3+ inches long this time of year and there is more and more sandlance along the sandy beaches. Gummy Minnow, Good Friday Shad , and Just Keep Swimming are all excellent choices right now. That being said you should never go out for Dollies without at least a few Olive Fryolator!
If you are like us, the little bit of rain over the weekend will be a welcome change from the brutal heat we have had for the last week. Chances are the fish will like it too! Have a great weekend out there everyone.
Cory, Brad, Mike, and the rest of the crew at AFFG
*We love using our customers' photos in our future fishing reports, but we really want to encourage ethical treatment of fish. When practicing catch and release do your best to handle the fish minimally and get pictures with the fish in the water! Please avoid placing your fingers in gills, setting fish on dry ground, or holding them way above water with your dry hands. Remember this resource is only sustainable if we all help do our part. Submit your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on Instagram (@alaskaflyfishinggoods)