King Me

Alex Spies

As we make our way into July, the fishing has been really beginning to heat up for us up here in Alaska.  Of course along the Kenai and Russian rivers it is packed shoulder to shoulder with locals and tourists all vetting for that fish-of-a-lifetime to come swimming on by.  For Sammie and I, we have been limited to more accessible user friendlier options.  With baby Luella Belle having a due date of July 21st we have been busy chasing King Salmon in our backyard river instead of making the 3 and 5 hour commutes.  The great part about this state is that you don’t have to go far to find what you are looking for.  With the King Salmon run in The Valley turning out some impressive numbers this summer hopefully we could get lucky.  Living this far from family is always tough on us, so when we do get visitors we try to show them the best experience we can.  We were blessed to have her cousin and his girlfriend come up and stay with us for the week in June.  As soon as their flight landed it was basically leave your bags at the door, grab a rod and let’s go Bring It!

We started our adventures at the Eklutna Tailrace casting Kodiak Custom spinners into the river.  I am calling beginners luck (just kidding Adam) because not more than an hour into fishing, he hooked up on a beautiful King salmon that worked his arms over for a good 20 minute battle.  That fish was peeling drag as Adam chased it up and down the river bank.  With the assistance of another angler, we netted his first King.  He was grinning ear to ear while battling that fish and his grin never faded as we walked back to the truck.  Everyone on the banks were watching in awe and pointing as we strutted across the bridge victoriously.  Needless to say, mission accomplished.  As they crossed things off the bucket list and their vacation with us ended, that still was the highlight of their trip.  Good times had by all—and a new salmon recipe learned, perfected, and enjoyed!

With the house and fishing tackle to ourselves again, it didn’t take us long to get the itch to head out there in search of our trophy King of the year.  As another few weeks had passed, and the Kings making it further up the rivers, our odds were increasing.  I could, and probably should try this whole “combat-fishing” that everyone keeps talking about—you know, where you stand shoulder to shoulder next to strangers getting lines twisted and cut the result of hundreds fishing the same holes—wait no thank you.  I will gladly go on a hike to find my own spots away from the crowds.  When I got offered a ride down the Willow River on our great friend, Joey Coonse’s raft in search of monster rainbow trout on the Fly Rod I jumped at the opportunity.  The “Fly Fishing Bug” hasn’t really set in with me yet as if I am looking for a finesse bite fight, I generally just use much lighter tackle opting not to use a fly rod.  However I could not avoid it any longer.  It seems like you are not quite truly an Alaskan unless you have mastered the art of fly fishing.  So I put that to the test.

As Joey and I started on our float trip down the Willow, we were searching for rainbow trout that follow up the King Salmon as they feed on their eggs.  As I drifted my black and blue Dolly Llama fly around one of the many bends in the river, I kept missing bites.  I could see the trout bite, but my novice skills were clearly on display.  Instead of getting upset, I kept trying to focus and tried to stay positive.  I thought there is no way I can be so good at all other types of fishing but SO BAD at Fly Fishing!  Well as our raft kept floating and I kept missing I could feel my positivity draining fast.  If only I would have brought one of my Clam ice rods I would have caught something by now I thought.  Then it happened!  I hooked up with a massive King Salmon on a 6 weight fly rod.  That spool started spinning and buzzing faster than I knew what to do or where to put my hands!  Line just kept peeling out and the reel kept banging against my hand as I tried to put up some sort of effort.  As Joey was coming towards me to give directions and start filming, he too hooked into a King!  As I eventually was able to get the massive king out of the current, I grabbed onto the tail, quickly removed my fly and let him swim on to fight another day.

That was about as much adventure as I could fit into a weekend that’s for sure!  Hopefully everyone stayed safe and is having a great Holiday and hopefully the next time you hear from us we will be joined by the birth of our baby girl!  Will keep you all posted!
IMG_2705-300x300 IMG_2706-300x300 IMG_2707-300x300
View Mobile Site