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#10935554 - 06/23/15 02:32 PM Aleutian Island Adventure: Big King salmon on the fly
Meadowlark Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 11/04/04
Posts: 2870
Loc: East Texas
I just returned from The Sapsuck River, Nelson’s Lagoon, in far out Aleutian Islands of our most beautiful state, Alaska. The target fish for this trip was king salmon on the fly, something not a lot of anglers have ever done and one of the last fish on my unfilled personal bucket list.

It isn’t easy getting there, nor is it easy to return. The camp was tent structure, with generator and river water. The trip was arranged by Sweetwater travel…and must say it isn’t for everyone. Morning temperatures were in the 30’s and clothing needed to be warm at all times. The area is absolutely stunning with amazing views of active volcanoes, mountains, vast tundra and wildlife. Pavlof volcano is semi-active and in full view of our camp…a stunning sight indeed.


In this report, I’ll concentrate on the king salmon fishing…but I also caught rainbows, dolly’s, char, and sockeyes at various times during the week. Also, anyone wishing to know any other details of the trip logistics, environment, etc. feel free to PM me. I love to talk about Alaska fishing.

In addition, the river is generally well suited to spey casting with very heavy vegetation and steep banks which limit back casting.

The kings in the river were very fresh from the salt. They still had the lice on them that can only survive 24 hours in freshwater, so these kings were full bright and they were extremely hot. They were holding/staging for very brief times in deep pools of the river and the trick was using stealth and expert casts to get them to hit a fly. They were extremely wary.

In the first 10 minutes of the first day, a 40 pound king inhaled my fly, a chartreuse guide intruder and proceeded to try to destroy my Allen Kraken reel and TFO single handed 10 wt rod. It almost succeeded. I had just recently returned from the Baja fishing for roosterfish and had replaced the spool on the fly reel with a cold water sinking tip line. I didn’t realize that I hadn’t properly seated the new spool on the reel and the 40 pound king quickly exploited this mistake. The reel drag failed immediately, then the spool literally flew into the air (twice) as I scrambled to try to hold onto the huge king. My guide Mike sprinted to help me and reassembled the drag and reel with spool while I tried to hang on to the angry king by hand. We got in the boat and caught up with the king well down stream probably a couple of miles before finally landing it…what an introduction to king salmon fishing on the fly.

For much of the remaining week, I learned to spey cast and caught numerous bright kings ranging from the 10 to 20 pounds(called jack kings),several in the 20 to 30 pound class, a 31,33,35,and 36 pound king to go with the 40 pounder…but the crowning fish, the largest king salmon that anyone had ever seen come out of that river on the fly and caught on my single handed 10 wt was a 44 pound, roughly 45 inch with a 29 inch girth. It truly was the fish of a lifetime and exactly what I was after for my bucket list.
The huge king could not be landed from the bank. I simply could not stop its initial run, nor could I turn it in any way with the 10 wt. It quickly ran out 300 yards of backing before the guide could get to me in the boat and we could follow it downstream. We followed the great fish well past our camp downriver …some two plus river miles from where I hooked it upriver from the camp. I got out of the boat and was able finally to drag the huge fish onto a sand bar where we got pictures (and camp people came scrambling to see this magnificent specimen). The camp operator said it was the largest king salmon they had ever seen on this river and certainly the largest to ever be taken on the fly. Upon returning later to Anchorage, I read a news paper article summarizing the Anchorage King Salmon Derby which is a contest for the largest King salmon of the season…the winning fish was 37 pounds (you can check this out by googling the Anchorage news paper from Monday). My fish at 44 pounds easily dwarfed the winning fish…in fact my second largest king would have easily won the contest.

What a trip!! I’ll post only a few of the many pictures providing a representative sampling of these magnificent fish. Anyone wish more pictures or details just PM me.
The pictures:
1) the 44 pound king with camp in the background
2) close up shot of 44 pound king
3) the 40 pound king

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#10935605 - 06/23/15 02:53 PM Re: Aleutian Island Adventure: Big King salmon on the fly [Re: Meadowlark]
2FlyFish4 Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 02/02/10
Posts: 1335
Good stuff!
I have been eyeing the king salmon fishing in the Aleutian islands for the past year. Been looking at hoodoo lodge, Sandy river lodge and Aleutian adventures. The only thing that is holding me back is the 7 days of pretty much strictly king salmon fishing. Would like to hear more about your trip, the rainbow and char fishing and any other options you had. Thanks
_________________________
http://2flyfish4.blogspot.com/



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#10935619 - 06/23/15 03:01 PM Re: Aleutian Island Adventure: Big King salmon on the fly [Re: Meadowlark]
rrhyne56 Offline



Registered: 02/16/01
Posts: 13192
Loc: McKinney TX USA
What an amazing story, and with the pictures to back it up! smile

Thanks so much for sharing this trip of a lifetime.
_________________________
"have fun with this stuff"
in memory of Big Dale
RRhyne56, Flyfishing warden

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#10935638 - 06/23/15 03:10 PM Re: Aleutian Island Adventure: Big King salmon on the fly [Re: Meadowlark]
J-Moe Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 04/04/14
Posts: 2607
Loc: Brenham, TX
Awesome pictures and story. Thanks for sharing

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#10935808 - 06/23/15 04:28 PM Re: Aleutian Island Adventure: Big King salmon on the fly [Re: Meadowlark]
Zip-ur-Fly Offline
Outdoorsman

Registered: 02/28/13
Posts: 228
Loc: Lake Tawakoni
I'm thoroughly jealous. You should be proud. Great catch.
_________________________
Current holder of Texas State & Lake Fly Rod Records.

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
Confucius

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#10935927 - 06/23/15 05:19 PM Re: Aleutian Island Adventure: Big King salmon on the fly [Re: 2FlyFish4]
Meadowlark Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 11/04/04
Posts: 2870
Loc: East Texas
Originally Posted By: 2FlyFish4
Good stuff!
I have been eyeing the king salmon fishing in the Aleutian islands for the past year. Been looking at hoodoo lodge, Sandy river lodge and Aleutian adventures. The only thing that is holding me back is the 7 days of pretty much strictly king salmon fishing. Would like to hear more about your trip, the rainbow and char fishing and any other options you had. Thanks


I got a pretty good feel on this trip about those items.

First, Hoodoo lodge was about 20 minutes by boat below us on the river. Hence to get to the prime king spots....and there aren't that many...they must start out very early and they never did get clients to our spots while I was there. Also, Hoodoo had a boat break down while I was there and the guide had no tools, no way of contacting his base or anyone else for help. In that part of Alaska, that is just plain stupid, IMO. Things can go bad in a hurry. It is totally unforgiving....and mistakes can cost you your life.

Regarding Sandy, I visited there briefly and wouldn't hesitate to book a trip there in the future. Looked like good facilities and good people.

These are not places to go for rainbows, char, etc...other places in Alaska much better. I did manage a 22 inch rainbow way up river, but the boat run is very long and you need to have a willing partner.

Speaking of which, I'm looking for partner(s) for next year. My stay was with a bunch of California guys which were good guys except for one arrogant jerk and I'm looking for some good Texas fly anglers to go with next year.

Spey fishing is a skill that really comes in handy on this river. I didn't have a spey rod, but borrowed one and got reasonably proficient at using it...next year I'll be ready. Anyone interested in next year let me know.

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#10936528 - 06/23/15 10:04 PM Re: Aleutian Island Adventure: Big King salmon on the fly [Re: Meadowlark]
Cowtown Kid Offline
Pro Angler

Registered: 09/09/12
Posts: 713
Loc: Fort Worth
Congratulations! A beautiful fish!

texas
_________________________
Rick Irving
"The Cowtown Kid"
Kayak Fisherman

“Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics that it can never be fully learned.” ~Izaak Walton

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