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Subject: TROPHY KING SALMON
Ole, for the list
I spent a restless night in anticipation for my second try at catching a KING SALMON on Saturday July 28th. I kept rehearsing
in my mind what I had to do as you see catching a King Salmon is quite a different type of fishing. First of all King
Salmon do not bite much but if they have red salmon eggs in front of them as they come upstream they will "NIP" at them
even though they quit eating before they leave the ocean to spawn. We mainly back bottom bounce which means you bounce a
one pound weight off the bottom. If you feel a tug a tug a tug then you feed line by standing up and poking(shoving ahead)
your rod toward the fish. Then to set the hook you snap the rod upward. By this I mean you snap the bottom of the rod
handle down while snapping the grip toward you which is totally foreign to me as a way to set a hook. This is really tough
for me as all the fishing I have ever did you get a tug, tug and you jerk the rod back at an angle to set the hook. All
night I am rehearsing this as I had a couple of tug a tugs on July 17th our first time out and came up empty handed, ie
never got the hook set in a King Salmon. We are out on the water by 6 am and it is about 50 degrees, a little wind and
foggy. Basically it was real chilly! The Kenia River is a beautiful torquoise blue and a wild river flowing at 5 mph,
snow and glacier fed! The river is higher than normal! We were fishing with a couple of friends of Mike Turner-KL7X our
guide who is a ham radio operator I have talked to previously and Mike AL7OB was so kind to line us up with Mike for the
July 17th trip that we did as couples. It is Mikes 6th year on the Kenai. It was not long and Steve had one which weighed
about 30 # and he had Mike release it as he was trying for a bigger one! Based on what I had seen the other time on July
17th I sure would of kept it and in fact that was it he never got another bite. Edith hooked a King and it was off to
the races! WOW! I thought here we go. After about 10 minutes she was shot and I took over. It took about a minute and
I knew why she was exhausted. It was very tough and it took about 20 more minutes and we got it up by the boat about two
miles down river and seen it was "FOUL HOOKED" which meant it was not hooked in the mouth which rarely happen with King
Salmon but it did this time. Unfortunately that is an illegal hook and we had to get the hook out while it was still in
the water and let it go. Mike said when they are hooked that way the resistance from the 5 mph current with the fish
going every which way is like landing a 80 pound King. My arms were aching so bad I did not think I was going to be able
to do it. Next Steves wife hooked one and did a nice job with it other than she did a terrible job setting the hook
but Mike our guide grabbed the rod and got it set for her and after that she did a super job. She was very, very thrilled
and it likely weighed 30 lbs. or so. She kept it which was smart on her part and there also was not a lot of time left
until 12 noon when they had to quit! I had one bite and did not get the hook set. I did OK feeding it line but jerked
it up and back to set the hook rather than the snap action with the wrists and arms, standing up. Let me tell you after
you have literally bottom bounced a couple of thousand times and all of a sudden there is a tug a tug for the first time
in 5 hours you have all you can do in that instant to remember to feed it line by moving the rod toward it while standing
up. The normal reaction after fishing for years and years it to just hold it for another tug a tug and set the hook. On
the Kenai when you try and set the hook the guide always guns the motor to help set the hoork. Well there was a boat
right in front of us so he really could not do that and apparently my upward jerk did not get the hook set as I basically
landed on my butt back on the seat! Pretty disgusting when the gal does a terrible job of setting the hook and gets her
fish and I get thin air. OH WELL I am a big boy no use crying over spilled milk just get back at it and work, work,
work, work! I am rehearsing this in my mind, tug a tug feed it line, tug a tug, I am feeding line at I get up, tug a
tug I snap the rod with a quick jerk of the wrists and arms. Edith has one on for about 20 seconds and it gets off.
The hook just did not get set. She is pretty discouraged. It was noon hour and Steve decided to pack it in and of course
his wife has caught hers for the day so she is done. I could tell Steve was kicking himself for not keeping the 30 lb.
One he caught. I thought to myself I could of TOLD YOU! Early on Edith caught about a 10 pound Red Salmon which was a
very nice fish!
I forgot to mention about mid morning we went down river in the fog to Beaver Crossing where there is really fast water
in a small area and it is just full of boats. WOW! you talk about close quarters and lines close together and if some
one catches one everybody has to reel up quick and let that boat out of the pack to try and land the fish. The gals got
snagged together and not much was happening other than when we first got there so that was enough we left back for BIG
EDDY to do more bottom bouncing.
We had it set up so both Edith and I would go in the morning and if only one of us got a King Salmon in the morning the
other would go in the afternoon. At noon we found out there were cancellations so Edith and I could both go again on the
second 6 hour period from 12 noon to 8 pm. This King Salmon fishing is not inexpensive but the money has been holding
out really well so we both decided to go. Edith was definitely getting discouraged. I was not discouraged but I was
getting concerned as I had been trying so hard and just could not seem to get the hook set and these others were getting
Kings with basically Mike gunning the motor! Man no justice!!! After a quick noon lunch we find there are more
cancellations and Mikes daughter does not go bacause the weather is to miserable. We do a different type of fishing
called back planeing where an airplane looking device takes the hook down and you don't have to set the hook. I thought
maybe this will save me! Would you know it Edith gets a heck of a hit and Mike guns it and it is on for a little bit
and then gone. Mike could not believe it. Edith reels in and all the salmon eggs are there and what had happened is
the King hit the airplane like device and when she started to reel it in the King just spit it out since it does not
have any hooks on it. Boy I though she was going to pull it off after her bad fortune in the morning with the foul
hook. The pressure is starting to mount. BTW it is windy, cold and spitting rain and my Cabela's Gortex rain gear
is worth every penny I paid for it! We back plane for quite awhile as things are not good at Big Eddy until at least
mid afternoon as the fish that come in with the high tide will not get to Big Eddy until then. Big Eddy is a bend
where it narrows up and the current is fast and there is a big eddy on two sides of a submerged sand bar. Other than
Beaver Crossing it is the second most popular spot for bottom bouncing in that section of the Kenai.
Time wears away and nothing bites for either Edith or I and the time has arrived to go back to Big Eddy and only one
boat is there which is bad news as it means nothing is happening! After, which had to be a couple of thousand more
baby bottom bounces, ie bounce up an inch, 1001, 1002, 1003 bounce an inch and repeat, repeat and all this time the
depth changes and Mike has to speed up and slow down because of other boats so you are constantly letting out line
or reeling up so you are on the bottom and have the rod tip between 30 and 45 degrees so you can feed the fish line
and snap the rod to set the hook. With all my Walleye fishing I really did not have trouble staying on the bottom!
Suddenly I get another tug a tug a tug and I do a great job of feeding it line and I rip the rod back and up and miss
him. Mike says you have to snap it in one quick movement as the big jerk up and back is to slow. I am "SICK" I have
9 hours of solid bottom bouncing today and two bites in that time and come up empty!
Things really cool off and we try some more back planeing but no luck, nothing so we decide to try bottom bouncing at
Big Eddy again and good news they were catching one or two. By now it is down to less than an hour to go and I get
my third tug a tug of the day and I feed it line by standing up and moving the rod toward the fish and I try and snap
the rod to set the hook and Mike guns the motor and I fall on my butt on the seat and NOTHING! I am beside myself!
Counting the six hours on July 17th and the 11 hours today I have 17 hours of hard, hard fishing constantly staying
on the bottom! Mike never got on me about being on the bottom but was getting on everybody else and the same for my
"BABY BOUNCES and said I now was doing a good job of feeding it line and standing up but just was not snapping the
rod like I should to set the hook. We are now down to 30 minutes to fish and Mike is talking about me flying up
sometime in the future and block out a couple of days. I am saying to myself to keep the faith I am not going to
give up. I thought to myself it is not over until it is over as YOGI said! With 25 minutes to go I make a decision.
If I can be blessed with my 4th tug a tug for the day I am calmly going to stand up as I feed the King line and I
am going to wait a long time before I try and set the hook. I decide I have missed them three times by trying to jerk
it back hard and probably to quick so if I miss it by being to slow SO BE IT! It is 20 minutes to go and it is looking
desperate!!! I need a miracle and I GOT IT! Tug a tug and I calmly stand up as I feed the fish line, tag a tug, tug
a tug tug a tug and it seems like I have been waiting forever, now I am not calm any longer, my heart is pounding and
then I snap the rod as hard and fast as I can and Mike guns it and WOW! DOUBLE WOW! TRIPLE WOW! You talk about having
the hook set. It felt like I had a 100 pounds on the line and AWAY the KING goes. I mean there is nothing, I mean
nothing I can do as the brake is screaming and he heads right under the boat toward the prop! My heart is pounding,
I think I finally have one hooked and it is going to get in the prop and cut the line and my heart goes in my throat
as I am helpless! BUT Mike does wonders, somehow he spins the boat around and keeps the King away from the prop!
YELL at Mike NICE JOB WITH THE BOAT! and the King is running again. I am not bragging here but at least I do have some
experience to draw on here! Keep the rod tip up, keep the line tight with a bow in the rod and crank like mad whenever
you can. The KING makes a run for the boat and Mike yells CRANK, CRANK which I already am as hard as I can as I know
if it gets a little slag line it is ALL OVER 17 1/2 hours down the drain and I go home empty handed. I kept the line
tight and Mike gets us out of the boat pack and we head down stream. Everybody is good about reeling in and getting out
of the way. After about 10 minutes I get the edge off the King and can do a little with it! Mike says when he is not
pulling real hard to crank down and lift the rod tip, crank down and lift the rod tip. I am thinking to myself Mike I
know how to do that and it is a good idea but you try it! This KING is pulling like crazy but finally it tires some
and I can crank down and lift the rod once in a while. The KING makes some more runs and I am thinking concentrate,
concentrate, concentrate it is not in the bag until it is in the net or as Yogi said it is not over until it is over.
I remember Mike telling Steves wife in the morning not to get over confident as she was celebrating and it was not in
the net! I remember thinking VERY WISE WORDS MIKE!
Finally I get it up by the boat and we get a look at it!!! GUYS AND GALS IT LOOKED LIKE A WHALE! HONEST TO GOD A WHALE!
I had been beating on myself since July 17th when I missed two tug a tugs and now today I miss three but I don't panic.
I caught a 9 # 4 oz. Walleye and did not panic so I am not going to panic now but this fish is bigger than any I had seen
in the two days I had fished watching other boats land them. I have never had a fish this size on my line in MY WHOLE
LIFE! My dream was to get a 35 pound King Salmon and be proud of it and have a life time memory. This thing is at least
50 pounds! Of course when it seen us and the boat it was off to the races again but by now we have the drag set up some
and Mike got my sun glasses off and we work it up by the boat again and Mike tries to net it and it slips away. Darn
still not in the boat! Then I see the hook and it does not look like it is hooked that well and Mike says CAREFULLY
work it over toward the net and I am thinking this is an opportunity to panic as I my thought was Mike sees it is not
hooked well but does not want to panic me. I don't panic and I CAREFULLY work it over toward the net and Mike has it in
the net. I have to help Mike lift it in the boat. Actually it is hooked good but just on the lip so I almost missed him
to! Then we CELEBRATE! We give each other a hug as Mike has been pulling out all the stops trying to get me a KING
SALMON. Mike says it is 50 to 55 pounds Jack(male) as he signs off on my King TAG on my license! It was huge!!! It
in fact weighed 54.25 lbs. on the official scale at the dock place!
People come from all over the world to the Kenai River to fish for the elusive KING SALMON. You can only catch two a year.
The average time to catch a KING is 72 hours of hard fishing without a guide. With a guide it is 12 hours. A lot of
locals have not caught KINGS! Mike told me two fellows came up and bought a week of guiding this past winter, ie about
$2100 each to fish for a trophy, ie 70 pounds or more this year and went home after a week without their trophies and
they had fished the Kenai in previous years! My 54.25 pounder caused a stir at the weigh station so it was decent. The
bigget one Mike's boat got all year was 70 lbs. Most are in the 30-35 pound range which I would of been more than happy
with but HEY I AM THRILLED WITH A TROPHY KING SALMON! I am thankful and blessed, definitely a life long memory! I only
wish Edith could of also got one, she came oh so close!
MID: 1083_W0SD Sent Via: KA6IQA Date: 2001/07/31 03:49:17]