The Last Fishing Frontier

Sockeye Savvy
By Gary Laden for Quest Global Angling Adventures

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game predicts that the 1997 red salmon (sockeye) run in the Naknek River will exceed 4.6 million fish—one of the strongest in history. The sockeye run begins in late June and ends in late July.

"An unusual fly-fishing technique exists for these sockeye fresh from the ocean," says King Salmon guide Tony Wood. "They migrate in extremely large schools during incoming tides, but don't feed during this migration. Anglers want to target staging sockeyes and not actively spawning sockeyes—they will usually be staging in water from 12 inches to six feet deep.

The method is to cast the fly and tight-line it against the current, attempting to retrieve it across the snout of a staging sockeye. This is a difficult technique to master. You are basically force-feeding the six to ten orange attractor pattern to the salmon. You then have to determine if any bumps you detect are fish taking the fly or the fly careening off the rocks. These fish are very game adversaries and will test the limits of fly tackle.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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