Most people will never understand why I get up before dawn, in the rain, snow, or summer heat, to stand at water's edge. Whenever I am asked why I do it, my response is..."for the rise."

Quest for a King

Posted in Alaska on June 5th, 2011 by kyle

Alaska’s costal waters play host to millions of Pacific Salmon every year. Over the years i’ve been very fortunate, taking several trips to Southeast Alaska and landing four of the five species. Silver, Pink, Chum, and Sockeye are all great and special. The Kings are the largest and have avoided my lines on all previous trips.

Last year my dad called and invited me to join him on a trip in late May.  I jumped at the chance to head back up to Alaska, even more excited knowing that this time of the year means lots of kings out on the coast. Last Saturday I left the valley of the sun and headed to the last frontier. All of this fit in a medium checked bag and a carry on.
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We always spend a day in Juneau and check out the local attractions. Juneau is the only capital city in the US with a glacier in the city.
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Icebergs from the glacier slowly melt in Mendenhall Lake.
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Local wildlife.
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And good food at “The Hanger” bar and grill.
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After a day of sight seeing we took a ’64 Cesna from Juneau to Gustavus. Its a short 20 minute ride over snow capped coastal mountains.
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We arose early on the first day, dressed quickly and drove the short distance to the dock. Our guide/captain was Greg Taylor. He is originally from Orem and has been up in Gustavus for the summers for the last 10 years. Greg has become a close friend over the years and we spent a good amount of time this trip talking about fishing in Utah and Idaho.
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We ran out to the open ocean, about 30 miles from the inside passage that shelters the glacier bay area. We put the riggers down to 109 feet. Right off the bat my dad hit a nice King. Then my uncle Jay got one. Then my little Brother. Then my uncle Ryan.
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Finally the line popped off the rigger I was watching and the fight was on! My first King salmon was fighting well, I got him close to the surface and then this happened.
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What I got back…
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Pretty disappointing but it happens. We ended up loosing two halibut later in the trip to the buzzards of the sea. Shortly after the Sea Lion encounter the wind came up and  the Gulf of Alaska went from lumpy to down right dangerous. We battled waves for a half hour and got back a little ways inside to more calm water.

Fishing for rock fish off of the humps that come up out in the open ocean is pretty exciting. We jig for them with 16 ounce jig heads and 14 inch plasic skirts.
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The catch varies from Chinese Rockfish,
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to Sea Trout,
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to Yellow Eyed Rockfish,
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to my favorite, the Ling Cod.
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It was a great first day. We were tired and my Bro was pretty sea sick so we ran back in to the dock.

Day two called for a pretty big tide with some wind. We decided not to risk the ocean and stayed in the protected water of the inside passage. More rock fishing was in order to fill our limits.
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Quite a workout for the Loomis rods.
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On the way back we stopped at the sleepy harbor called Elfin Cove.
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Its a quirky place and the people there think they are pretty funny… haha I laughed.
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Day three we went after some halibut. We picked up a few but the bite was really slow.
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It was too nice of a day for the fish to bite well so we went around to see wildlife.
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As we passed a shoreline Greg noticed a pair of Bald Eagles and we stopped to have some fun with them. We tossed some bait in the water we had for the Halibut and watched the show. I’m sure glad Ben Franklin didnt get his way with our national bird.
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Day 4 we fished the beautiful Bartlett River. The eight mile hike wasnt too bad. It was however a barren waste-land compared to what it looks like in early August when thousands of salmon fill the river and Dolly Varden follow close behind. We still managed some pretty little Coastal Cutthroat and I dutifully snapped the tip off my Winston.
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Some bear sign.. we were carrying spray.
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The last day the weather was right and the tide was perfect. We cruised at full speed out to the Salmon grounds. I was ready to get that Kind and complete the slam! The water and conditions were perfect and as soon as we were down the line popped off the rigger. I was fast on the rod and caught up to the piggy Salmon. After a few runs I got it to the net and was pleased beyond words with the fat King.
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Then later an even longer fish came to the boat at the hands of my Dad.
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We finished the morning with five Kings for the five anglers and rushed back to make our flight. After some quick packing we were off. A little heavier than on the way in.
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The week flew by way too fast but all good trips do. My quest for a King was fulfilled. A huge thanks to my Dad for making the trip happen. It was so great to spend time with family again. Now its time for an Apache Trout.