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Had some great silver salmon fishing

By Troutnut on October 6th, 2012
There are some very late-season Coho (aka silver) salmon runs in interior Alaska. I've never found the time to fish them before, because it's often below freezing by the time the fish arrive, and few spots are accessible by foot. This year has been unseasonably warm, so a couple friends with a boat invited me to join them on the most well-known of these rivers. We found a few good spots where the fish were aggressive, and caught them until our arms were tired. Almost a thousand miles upriver from the Bering Sea, these fish might not have fought as hard as they would fresh from the ocean, but they still had plenty of energy left to perform some impressive runs and acrobatics.

Photos by Troutnut from the Delta Clearwater River in Alaska

Comments / replies

EntomanOctober 9th, 2012, 2:02 am
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Very cool, Jason!:) You are blessed, as few anglers have the experience to literally "wear their arms out" catching salmonids. Beware the culture shock (as I ran into back in the 70's) coming back to the lower 48!:)

Before anyone raises an eyebrow at your comments regarding the fighting qualities of "dark" silvers, I have experienced the same thing with them. Not just from my years in AK, but also from many subsequent years chasing chromers in BC where they (even dark ones) have fooled me into thinking they were steelhead at first. I can't think of a higher compliment...
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
PaulRobertsOctober 9th, 2012, 1:09 pm

Posts: 1776
Jason, did you fish to those ones in the pics? I mean in the slow clear water? Or did you fish them in faster slots? Curious? How do they respond to flies?
GldstrmSamOctober 9th, 2012, 2:38 pm
Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
A friend of mine went fishing in the Clearwater and said how he would throw in a egg sucking leech and let it drift by a row of redds. He said all the salmon would line up waiting for the ESL to come by.The reason they respond to an ESL is out of defense for their redds. Which is why this fly works so well. I do not know they how they would respond to anything else though.
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
AdirmanOctober 9th, 2012, 4:18 pm
Monticello, NY

Posts: 504
So if they're not specifically on their redds do you think this leech pattern wouldnt be quite as effective then?


TroutnutOctober 10th, 2012, 2:44 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2736
I fished for them in the slow water (including the ones in the pictures). The whole river is that clear -- it's one giant spring creek. The fish in slow water were very aggressive toward moving flies, though, and many of them chased a stripped egg-sucking leech several feet and hit it on the first cast.

I also tried fishing to the ones on redds with a variety of presentations, and I don't think I caught a single one. I maybe caught one or two fish that were on the move through faster water, but they were much more willing to hit in the slower water, in several locations. Many of these were migrating fish that stopped in the slow water sections for just a few minutes to rest, not inactive fish hanging out there 24/7.

I don't think the egg-sucking leech really triggers any sort of redd defense because they think it's stealing their eggs. It's just easy to see, it looks very alive, and it triggers some latent aggressive instincts they have from being predators.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
PaulRobertsOctober 10th, 2012, 2:50 pm

Posts: 1776
Thanks, Jason.
Pryal74October 10th, 2012, 3:29 pm
Escanaba, MI

Posts: 168
As always... fantastic photos and gorgeous fish.
-James Pryal
Into The Wild Fly Fishing
JesseOctober 11th, 2012, 8:36 pm
Posts: 378
A-W-E-S-O-M-E ! ! !
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
Shawnny3October 23rd, 2012, 1:23 pm
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
I'm so jealous of all these places and wildlife you get to experience, Jason. What a fantastic place to live. I'm glad to see you're taking advantage of the many opportunities for sport. Inspiring stuff. Makes me feel so... suburban.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
BoowillJanuary 23rd, 2013, 5:11 am
Posts: 1Way cool website! I haven't seen anything like it in the fly fishing arena. Thanks for all the hard work in bringing all of this to life..literally to life.
Afn2012February 19th, 2013, 3:32 am

Posts: 1
Wow! Great fishing with salmon. Thanks for sharing this info, very interesting to read.

Australian Fishing Network
MartinlfFebruary 19th, 2013, 2:33 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3213
Cheers back at you.

Troutnuts, I always wonder when I see a post like Afn2012's above, but following a few links on the AFN website I found this fun video. Scroll to the bottom of the page.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
WbranchFebruary 19th, 2013, 3:14 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Agreed! I was also leery but took a chance since I got some really good virus protection software and enjoyed some of the videos.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.

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