Thursday was my first charter of the 2011 season. I spent the day with Mark and Theresa who drove down from Anchorage to fish for king salmon on the Kasilof River. Coincidentally, they were my first clients of 2010 and had experienced a great day then so expectations were high. I floated the river Tuesday with friends from Soldotna with little success. We didn't see any action in the flotilla of boats that fished nearby as we worked down the river. We encountered our first and only king salmon after we had put the gear away and were headed for the takeout. It rolled next to the boat at Trujillo's/Old Kasilof Landing while I was preparing to motor out. Mark, Theresa and I floated from the boat launch early Thursday morning through the maze of rocks and boulders exposed during early season water levels, avoiding the vast majority of them, determined to have better day.
As Mark back bounced salmon roe and a Kwikfish lure worked the currents at the end of Theresa's line, they reminisced about last year's charter. Mark had enjoyed a particularly successful outing last year harvesting 2 hatchery kings. Theresa's contribution was the largest king caught. All of their action occurred in one area as fish moved up from the tide. Fewer boats were on the river this morning than Tuesday as we fished our way down. There were encouraging signs that today's charter might be more eventful than my last trip down the river. Steelhead were active in Bluff Hole. A couple kings roiled the waters of People Hole. A shore angler briefly had a fish on. Up to this point though our only excitement was from a dolly varden with visions of grandeur that impaled itself on Theresa's lure.
Mark recognized that we were fishing the same spot that they had enjoyed all their success during their charter the previous year. A short time later he had an all too brief encounter with his first king of the day as it took the bait he was bouncing and after a couple of violent head shakes sent the lead and hook sailing back in the general direction of the skipper. While rebating his hook, Theresa's rod folded as a king took her plug. After a short battle, she was posing for pictures with our first king of the day. We rowed back up to make another pass. On Mark's second bounce after we started fishing again he hooked his first keeper of the day. Both kings in the box were hatchery fish (sans adipose fin) so each had a realistic chance to limit. Later in the day, Theresa back bounced to her second fish of the day, the only "wild" fish we landed. Mark released a 12-13# hatchery king a short time later. Theresa had stopped fishing after boating her second king so we floated into Desperation Alley with one rod being fished and one bait in the tray. Near the end Mark hooked a big, bright, sea lice laden king that made several leaps and runs in the shallow water before releasing us to fight another day. All things considered, a pretty good way to start off the 2011 season. Thank you Mark & Theresa!
The fish Mark & Theresa kept are the Fish of the Week. The king Mark released and the ones that got away are still out there. You can't catch them or experience all that makes Alaska great if you don't "go". Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend. See you on the water!