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Fish primer: Getting the basics down

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2003

By learning a few things about salmon, tackle and technique, you'll soon be reeling 'em in.

About salmon

Because everything wants to eat salmon, they spend their entire lives seeking cover. In clear-water streams, they hold in the deep holes, in shadows and along undercut banks. In turbid water, such as the Kasilof River, they seem content in a few inches of water. Whatever the stream, they usually stay on the bottom.

The reason the above is important is this: If your bait isn't on or near the bottom, you won't catch salmon. This is especially true in turbid water, where the fish can't see your bait unless it's right in front of them.

About tackle

Don't pinch pennies when buying tackle. The best gear you can afford won't be any too good when a "fish of a lifetime" is on your line.

On the subject of line, it's the most important part of your gear. A premium mono-filament line in the 15- to 20-pound range casts easily and is adequate for most salmon fishing. For kings in the Kenai, use 25- or 30-pound.

Your reel should hold at least 150 yards of line and have a good drag. Your rod should be made of graphite composition fiberglass, about 8-feet, 6-inches long, with a medium-heavy action.

If you're new to fishing, you may have an easier time casting with a spinning reel than with a baitcasting reel.

Learn to tie at least two knots, the Palomar and the egg-loop knot. The instructions for tying these can be found in some tide books.

A good rig for silvers and kings in streams is a Spin-N-Glo ahead of a Gamakatsu "octopus" hook.

For all but the Kenai River, a size 2 Spin-N-Glo and a 2/0 hook is about right.

On the Kenai, where the fish are bigger, a size 0 Spin-N-Glo and 6/0 hook would be more appropriate. Local tackle shops carry pre-tied rigs in a variety of colors.

In waters where bait is legal, most anglers insert a gob of cured salmon roe in the egg loop.

While you're at the tackle shop, get your fishing license and a king salmon stamp, if you're going for kings. Also pick up a free copy of the sportfishing regulations and read them before you fish.

About technique

"Drift-fishing" is a good technique for salmon fishing from the bank of Kenai Peninsula streams. The idea is to cast across and slightly upstream. Use a sinker that's just heavy enough so you can feel it tapping on the rocky bottom as the current takes your bait downstream.

Follow your line with your rod, keeping the tip at about eye level. When you can no longer feel the sinker tapping, reel in and cast again.

If your line stops, of if you feel anything unusual, assume it's a fish. Lift your rod sharply to set the hook. If something pulls back, yell, "Fish on!"

Fish primer: Getting the basics down

By learning a few things about salmon, tackle and technique, you'll soon be reeling 'em in.

About salmon

Because everything wants to eat salmon, they spend their entire lives seeking cover. In clear-water streams, they hold in the deep holes, in shadows and along undercut banks. In turbid water, such as the Kasilof River, they seem content in a few inches of water. Whatever the stream, they usually stay on the bottom.

The reason the above is important is this: If your bait isn't on or near the bottom, you won't catch salmon. This is especially true in turbid water, where the fish can't see your bait unless it's right in front of them.

About tackle

Don't pinch pennies when buying tackle. The best gear you can afford won't be any too good when a "fish of a lifetime" is on your line.

On the subject of line, it's the most important part of your gear. A premium mono-filament line in the 15- to 20-pound range casts easily and is adequate for most salmon fishing. For kings in the Kenai, use 25- or 30-pound.

Your reel should hold at least 150 yards of line and have a good drag. Your rod should be made of graphite composition fiberglass, about 8-feet, 6-inches long, with a medium-heavy action.

If you're new to fishing, you may have an easier time casting with a spinning reel than with a baitcasting reel.

Learn to tie at least two knots, the Palomar and the egg-loop knot. The instructions for tying these can be found in some tide books.

A good rig for silvers and kings in streams is a Spin-N-Glo ahead of a Gamakatsu "octopus" hook.

For all but the Kenai River, a size 2 Spin-N-Glo and a 2/0 hook is about right.

On the Kenai, where the fish are bigger, a size 0 Spin-N-Glo and 6/0 hook would be more appropriate. Local tackle shops carry pre-tied rigs in a variety of colors.

In waters where bait is legal, most anglers insert a gob of cured salmon roe in the egg loop.

While you're at the tackle shop, get your fishing license and a king salmon stamp, if you're going for kings. Also pick up a free copy of the sportfishing regulations and read them before you fish.

About technique

"Drift-fishing" is a good technique for salmon fishing from the bank of Kenai Peninsula streams. The idea is to cast across and slightly upstream. Use a sinker that's just heavy enough so you can feel it tapping on the rocky bottom as the current takes your bait downstream.

Follow your line with your rod, keeping the tip at about eye level. When you can no longer feel the sinker tapping, reel in and cast again.

If your line stops, of if you feel anything unusual, assume it's a fish. Lift your rod sharply to set the hook. If something pulls back, yell, "Fish on!"



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