King salmon are some of the most popular gamefish in the world, and each summer thousands of anglers from all over the world make the pilgrimage to Alaska’s cold, fertile waters, where these fish congregate. Also known as chinook salmon, these beautiful silver fish reach up to about 3 feet in length and weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, although anglers occasionally drag 100-pound behemoths up from the dark depths.
But if you are going to go to the trouble of getting yourself to Alaska, you want to be sure you catch salmon once you arrive. And that’s why serious anglers book their trip with Wild Strawberry Lodge – Alaska’s leading charter service.
Salmon Anglers Wanted; No Equipment Needed
Catching salmon requires the right equipment, but you don’t have to worry about this – we’ll provide you with all of the gear and tackle you need. You’ll fish with a 9-foot-long salmon rod, rigged up with a Daiwa SG 47 LCA-Level Wind Reel, featuring a line counter so you’ll always know exactly how deep your bait is.
We’ll also rig up your bait and terminal tackle for you. Usually, this consists of a 2– to 8-ounce free-sliding weight, a barrel swivel and a 6- to 8-foot long leader. Each leader features two hooks, and will be baited with cut-plug herring.
Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon
While the boat captain and guides will be doing all they can to find fish, we always welcome input from our guests – it doesn’t matter who finds them, as long as they’re found!
As we near the fishing grounds, keep an eye out for some of the signs that may indicate the presence of fish. Birds clustering and feeding on the surface usually indicate that baitfish are in the area, and salmon are rarely far from these aquatic buffets. At times you might also see large baitfish schools just beneath the surface. Even sea lions and larger fish can indicate the presence of baitfish schools, so don’t hesitate to point out any of these things to your captain or guide.
Patience and Persistence: Keys to Success
Once the boat arrives at a promising spot, it’s time to start casting out your bait and catching fish. You’ll start by lobbing the bait out gently and letting it sink down through the water column to the desired depth – usually somewhere between 100 and 200 feet down. Using state-of-the-art GPS fish finding electronics, your captain will often be able to pinpoint the depths where the salmon are most likely to be.
Once your bait reaches the target depth, you’ll begin slowly bringing it back to the surface. We usually encourage our guests to alternate five fast reels with five slow reels to keep the bait spinning properly, which looks appealing to the fish. Like any other type of fishing, mooching for king salmon takes patience, but before you know it, you’ll get your first bite.
When that happens, you’ll need to reel up the slack as quickly as possible. This can be a bit challenging, as chinook often take the bait and swim up through the water. Once you feel the weight of the fish, you’ll set the hook hard, reel in a bit more line and jerk up on the rod again to ensure a rock-solid hookset.
Adjusting to the Ocean’s Whims
It’s important to remain flexible while we’re chasing chinooks; though we usually find a way to put our guests on fish, it occasionally takes a little time. Just keep a positive attitude and work with your captain and guides as they do their best to find the salmon.
Sometimes, this will mean using different techniques or rigging systems; at other times, it may be necessary to move into different waters. The weather, currents and fish movements can change every day, and salmon anglers must be ready to read the conditions and react to them. Fortunately, you’ll be traveling with our experienced captain and guides, who’ve accumulated a wealth of knowledge to help find and catch the fish.
Fishing for Fun and for Friends
The vast majority of our guests catch plenty of fish and go home with a cooler full of delicious salmon, but while you’re here don’t forget to enjoy everything the town has to offer. The scenery in Sitka and its surrounding waters is truly beautiful, and you’ll be glad you brought along a camera to take plenty of photos. During our fishing trips we often encounter whales, sea lions, colorful birds and other wildlife, which always delight our passengers and crew.
And don’t forget that you’ll be enjoying this trip alongside other like-minded folks, who have also traveled many miles to pursue these incredible fish. It is impossible to avoid the feelings of camaraderie that develop among guests and crew during a day of fishing – many of our guests have formed lifelong friendships during these trips.
What Are You Waiting For?
If you dream of catching king salmon from icy Pacific waters, you owe it to yourself to join us on one of our upcoming trips. Our professional captains and guides will help you achieve your dream and go home with a cooler full of the tastiest salmon the world has to offer. They’ve learned the ways of chinook over decades, and have mastered the tips, tricks and tackle you’ll need to catch them.
But your good time won’t stop once you arrive back at the dock. You’ll also spend plenty of time relaxing at the lodge, where you’ll be welcomed like a member of the family. We’ll keep your belly full and spirits high, to ensure that every part of the trip is enjoyable. And while you are busy kicking back and swapping tales with our other guests, the staff will be busy at work processing and packing your catch, before helping you get it checked in at the airport.
If this sounds like the kind of salmon-catching trip you want, contact Wild Strawberry Lodge and we’ll get you started.