Friday, June 24, 2011

Bears Like Alaska Salmon Too!

So I was spending the evening researching my Alaska fishing trip and I came across this news story in the ADN (Anchorage Daily News) about a section of woods near the Russian River that has been "temporarily" closed off because a momma bear (also know as a sow) and her two cubs have taken up residence in the area.  Hey, that is the area I'm going to fish and camp!

Bear, Cubs and Concerned Fisherman, Oh My!
Actually it is a common occurrence for bears to be in this area since there are so many spawning salmon returning to the area, but from what I have read a sow can be a little more dangerous as she may feel her cubs are threatened.  Federal officials have taken this step to try to avoid any fisherman/bear confrontations.  I have included a map of the area and as you can see the red area highlighted is where the bears are.  The "ferry" that is being pointed out is a ferry service that is provided to transport fisherman across the Kenai River so they can fish the Russian river confluence (the area where the Russian River and the Keanai River meet).  There is a parking lot at the ferry and there can be hundreds of folks coming through there at the peak of the Salmon runs.  I will be camping on the South side of the Keani River in the area marked as the Russian River Campground.

Here is a picture of the campsite.  You will notice that there is a nice picnic table, a fire pit, and a big brown metal looking container.  I was curious what this was, so I read the description and it is a "bear proof food container".  Huh, who knew you needed one of those?

Well this looks like it is going to be a real adventure.  I am both excited and hesitant about being so close to such large and wild creatures.  I would love to get some pictures of them, but I would also use the full extent of my zoom lens to ensure I don't get too close.  I was already considering purchasing some bear spray when I arrive to provide a small amount of protection, but this story may have sealed the deal.  Here is is a Link to the full story if you would like to read further.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What I Have Learned (Planning for the Alaska Trip)

Well, I am still planning, reading, and otherwise researching as I prepare to journey to Alaska.  During my research, I have come across some interesting facts that I would like to share.

1.  Fisherman are very willing to help a fellow fisherman!  Now this will come as no surprise to most of you, but I have been amazed as I am utilizing Alaska fishing message boards to refine my knowledge how and where to fish in Alaska.  I stumbled across the Outdoor Directory (see link) and found a wealth of Alaska forums on every topic.  I registered as a user and have been able to search their archives for all the questions that have been asked and answered for those that have gone through the same research process before me.  I have also posted questions and received great information and advice.  One person in particular, went out of his way to help me.  He goes by the name Jedi Salmon Slayer and has a slick website with loads of information.  Jedi (aka Dennis) was kind enough to email me and give me a complete rundown of what I need to know to be successful.  Here is a link to his site at Alaska Salmon Slayer.

2.  Airlines are not willing to help a fisherman!  So all I want to know is if I can bring a two piece rod as a carry-on in the plane. I found countless testimonials in the fishing forums that say it has been done, but when I call the airline they read me what it says on the website which wasn't clear and was the reason I called in the first place.  Because of this, I have elected to get rods that break down in 3 to 4 pieces that will fit in my duffel.  Problem solved!

3.  Alaska regulations are complicated!  Ok, so in most states, there are general regulations that govern the entire state with a few exceptions in special areas, but nothing too confusing.  Not in Alaska!  Every river and drainage system has its own set of rules.  Rules state that an area is closed to Salmon fishing, but see the "exceptions" and you find that it is allowed in certain areas at certain times.  Limits differ by location and method of catch can be artificial only and in some areas, fly fishing only, but this doesn't mean that you need to fish with a fly rod, just a fly on the end of your line.  Emergency orders can be issued at any time changing the rules of the game including completely shutting down fishing in a given area, so be aware and read the regs and check the updates by the state game and fish before each outing, SHEESH!  This is another subject that I have utilized the fishing forum for and found that I am not alone in struggling with the complexity of the state regs.

4.  There are five different kinds of Salmon in Alaska and they each have two names!  Although I consider myself an avid outdoorsman, I didn't know didly about Alaskan Salmon.  Turns out there are five species in Alaska.  They are Kings (also called Chinook) Salmon, Silver (also called Coho) Salmon, Red (also called Sockeye) Salmon, Chum (also called Dog) Salmon, and Pink (also called Humpy) Salmon.  These fish all spawn at different times, in different places, and have their own unique challenges.  They change appearance from the time they migrate from the ocean (when they are bright and silver) to varying degrees of spawning phase as they make their way up river.

5.  Sockeye Salmon don't really want to bite my lure!  Sockeyes are my targeted species this trip, so imagine my surprise when I read that the sockeye really aren't interested in any lure.  Instead you are placing a fly 6 to 18 inches off the bottom of the stream in hopes that it will get in the way of a red salmon charging upstream and he will bite at it to get it out of the way or your line may pass through the mouth of the fish as he swims with his mouth open and your fly snags him in the mouth (this is called flossing).  This isn't the case for all salmon as silvers, pinks, and chums are more aggressive and will chase after lures and bait.

I am continuing to gather more information as I prepare for the journey, but I now feel like I have a fighting chance of legally catching a salmon.  More to come as I continue my preparation and research.