Fish Stories | Kyle Graf

Quest for a King

Written by kyle and posted on June 5th, 2011 | Comments »

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.

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11 Comments on “Quest for a King”

  1. sharla Says:

    Loved this post and loved how you showed the week day by day. I may just print this and put it in a book! Well done and what an enjoyable fishing buddy you make. Everyone had such a great week! That was some incredible fishing a true adventure, Alaska style!

  2. Angie Says:

    WOW!! I loved reading this post and looking through the amazing pictures! Alaska is so amazing, it really is just like being in theorems of the discovery channel. So much beauty and wildlife of all kinds everywhere you look. And you guys had an amazing trip! I’ve never seen yellow eyes that big! Or lings! Not to mention the kings, of course. So glad you guys had a great trip and that I could live vicariously through you. Love the way you write, keep it up!

  3. Angie Says:

    Okay I just had a second to watch the videos, that was SO fun!! It was fun to hear everyone’s reactions when the lion took your fish. I bet it was a blast being up there with jay and ry and seeing them experience Alaska for the first time. Too much fun!

  4. Ryan Says:

    Great post! This brought back lots of fun memories. We sure had a great time in the big AK and it was fun to be with you for your first Pacific King! I can’t seem to get that dang Adele song out of my head!

  5. Kyle Says:

    Thanks guys! It was amazing. Ry, haha me too! “Theres a fire….”

  6. Jay Says:

    Kyle, this is a sweet post!!….I have already forwarded it to a ton of my friends and co-workers. They are all jealous now and want some of my fish. I still can’t sit on the toilet without the room swaying back and forth yet. What an amazing trip we had….your dad is so awesome.

  7. Jay Says:

    Kyle, this is a sweet post!!….I have already forwarded it to a ton of my friends and co-workers. They are all jealous now, and want some of my fish. I still can’t sit on the toilet without the room swaying back and forth yet. What an amazing trip we had….your dad is so awesome.

  8. Jay Says:

    Sorry….my computer was not working when I submitted my comment, and now it is on there twice. Maybe my two comments will replace the Adelle song that is in everyone’s head.

  9. Lisa Says:

    KYLE!!!!
    I didn’t know that you had this blog. Jay just told me about it! I LOVED the report on your fun Alaska trip with the boys!! WOW WOW WOW!!! TOTALLY AMAZING!!!!
    I’m gonna take some time and check out your other posts here on this blog. SO COOL!
    Talk to ya later,
    Lis

  10. marilynheap Says:

    Kyle, sooo exciting. I finally got on your fishing site. I did it by clicking on it from Michelles blog. You are an amazing writer !!!! You should be writing for some outdoor Life Magazine for sure. You really are great at expressing yourself. Can”t wait to see you and your sweet family. Thanks for being such a choice, awesome young man. We are so glad you are in our family. Stay well and happy. Love you so much. Gram

  11. kyle Says:

    Sorry for the delay on approving comments. I forgot I had set it up that way. Thanks for all the kind words! Grandma, glad you found the site. I love that you can see all of our lives from one of my favorite spots on earth. Like the meadowlarks sing, Hatch is a pretty little town!

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