People often ask, "What are the types of fish in Alaska; which are most common; when is the best time to fish in Alaska and how do you fish for them?" As the video below shows, salmon fishing is popular and exciting. Even a novice angler can be successful with the right help and technique, the preferred one for ocean sport fishing being mooching.
Alaska is well-known for its salmon and particularly king salmon, also known as Chinook. It's the largest of Pacific salmon and most sought after of all salmon species. Its meat is high in anti-inflammatory Omega-3s, rich in taste with a buttery-smooth texture. Wild-caught king salmon is not only healthy to eat but fun to catch. Due to their migration patterns, summer is the best time to catch them.
To successfully catch salmon, Alaskan anglers prefer mooching as a fishing technique. It facilitates greater contact with the feel of the rod and the subtlety of the bite, plus it's is fun to learn and thrilling to master.
Some expert fresh-water anglers may expect to use their skill to be successful with king salmon. However, beginners may have an advantage over experienced fresh-water anglers due to not having to "unlearn" that automatic reaction jerk up in order to set the hook.
Instead, mooching is a controlled, careful, yet fast cranking of the reel. Some say it's an art form instead of an exact science. It relies on numerous factors including:
Proper mooching cannot guarantee success, but it most certainly improves the odds.
Mooching uses the most natural presentation of the salmon's preferred food. It's about depth, the quality of bait, its speed of moving through the king's sight and overall presentation. Your guide's knowledge and experience makes a difference:
The GOLDEN RULE: When you feel a bite, CRANK, do NOT YANK!
Salmon can nibble or jab at the bait rather than suddenly taking it. It's subtle and feel like a little "tap,tap" or like you just hit bottom. When you feel you might have a bite, DO NOT JERK THE ROD UP to set the hook.
Wait a moment to confirm the bite, then reel in fast. Remember, you have a long leader, about 7 feet, so you must reel 14 feet before the line gets tight. Reel, reel, reel until the line gets tight, then lift the tip of the rod straight up. Do NOT swing it side to side.
Keep reeling fast as long as you can feel the fish on there. Salmon fight by swimming hard and rapid, often around and under the boat. Your guide will help you navigate around the boat and may ask the other guests to pull in their lines. It's nice to only have 4 guests to a boat.
If you suddenly don't feel the fish, drop the line 5 or 10 feet back down and reel again until your line gets tight. If the fish are making swipes at your bait, you may have to drop it several times before getting the final bite.
Catching your first king salmon, whether the first in the season or first in your life, is a memorable occasion. Our guides never tire of watching the thrill and seeing the smiles when guests hold that fish in their hands. It's a triumph worth the patience and the work.
Let's Go Fishing!