Fishing the Last Frontier If you’ve ever visited the great state of Alaska, then you know why it is aptly nicknamed, The Last Frontier, and if you’ve never had the chance, then I highly recommend you make a special trip. From its rugged wilderness, sweeping vistas, and, of course, its bountiful seafood, Alaska is an outdoorsman’s paradise. With much of the state only accessible via airplane or boat, you can find yourself exploring areas with minimal human impact fairly easily. But, for many, Alaska’s lure of giant pacific halibut, trophy rainbow trout, or larger than life king salmon is what brings more people to the state than anything else. There’s a type of fishing for everyone including combat fishing the world famous Russian River, walking secluded mountain streams, braving the mighty ocean swells in search of barn door sized halibut, or even drilling holes through 3 feet or better of ice in search of disgustingly huge northern pike.
Combat fishing alongside the Russian River where it collides into the impressive Kenai River is not for the faint of heart. Why is it called combat fishing? Well, imagine standing elbow to elbow next to anglers during the peak run of the sockeye salmon, where the river can be so thick with sockeyes that you could almost walk across their backs. Among these anglers are both novice and seasoned fishermen alike as they battle for prime real estate.
Now if you’re unfamiliar with the sockeye salmon fishing process, it goes a little something like this: With a technique referred to as flipping, the angler will take a bare hook with some weight above a couple feet of leader. That’s right, bare hook. That’s because when sockeyes are swimming up river to spawn, they do not eat, and besides, when they do eat, they thrive off plankton. Try putting that on a hook. But what they DO do is swim while opening and closing their mouth. So the object of the game is to allow your weight to just bounce the bottom as your leader and hook bounce along as well.
With luck, a sockeye will catch that leader as its mouth is open and the hook will snag the corner of the fish’s mouth as is passes by resulting in a term well known in the area as, FISH ON! Now with hooks flying through the air every few seconds from novice fisherman, hooks are often times lodged into your neighbor’s skin and weights are slung into an unsuspecting angler’s temple. Tempers flare but are usually defused, but the fact remains that injury is a common occurrence. Did I mention bears? Bears are often drawn to the area the same way we are: fish! Bears can add another element to the situation so be sure to keep your catch near. Also, moving from your spot for whatever reason allows a waiting angler to move in, resulting in you having to find another spot, or wait and takeover someone else’s spot.
So, as you can see, combat fishing on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska is not for the faint of heart, but an experience like none other. Sure, you’ll get your bounty, and may even end up coming out unscathed, but the adrenaline and chance at some fresh, wild Alaskan salmon makes it all worth it. Or maybe, walking that secluded mountain stream with you and a couple close friends may be all the excitement you need. Regardless, Alaska has the style of fishing to meet anyone’s needs. FISH ON!