Job in Alaska this summer

Hello all,

I have officially signed on board a commercial fishing boat with a family friend for the summer! I will be heading to the Kenai Peninsula at the end of May. I will have about 7 or 8 days free before the we start spending our days on the boat working. He is also a religious man and takes one day a week off so I will have many opportunities to catch some fish on the fly rod up there. So here's my question; What kind of gear would you fine folks recommend? I currently have an 8'6" 4 weight that I picture would be alright in the smaller creeks for small dollies and grayling and a 9' 6wt that should work just fine for most rainbows but I think I want to add a heavier weight rod. I've read some articles I'm leaning towards a 7wt as it is heavy enough to handle rainbows, big dollies, pinks, sockeye, and maybe chum and silver but will still be light enough that I can use it in the lower 48 for trout streamers, nymphing from a drift boat, carp, and fighting wind. Does anyone have any input or think I should go with an 8 wt (feel free to recommend specific rods if you have a 7 or 8 that you love)? Also, as far as terminal tackle goes I will probably wait to purchase most flies until I get up there but I don't think it would hurt to get a good base of general patterns built up like eggs, leeches, mice, sculpin, and salmon patterns (intruders?!?) before I head up there so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! As far as tippet and leader material would 15 and 20 pound flouro and some 0x and 1x tippet (plus my current 2-6.5x) be alright? Also I am very inexperienced in salmon fishing so if anyone has any good literature or articles they know of that they could point me in the direction of that would be great! Lastly, I have typical trout gear, but if there are any odds and ends pieces of gear that you may think I may need I would love to hear suggestions. Thanks for taking the time to read my long post and thanks in advance for any knowledge and time you take to share with me!

Best regards,

David Loy

Senior Moment
With a four and six already in your quiver, most will recommend an eight. A SW safe eight is a good choice too if you ever travel to tropics. That said though, a good seven is a joy to cast, in the 8’6” to 9’ lengths. Most folks seem to shy away from sevens but I have grown to like them.
BTW, enjoy AK. You’ll work your ass off probably, but the commute can’t be beat. I seined Southeast four years in the 70s. Never struck it rich but financed college and have many fond memories.
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Sounds like you’re on the right course as far as tackle goes, an 8 weight is not needed but could be nice if you happen to get into a king. I fished the Kenai for years with a 6 and a 7 in glass. If you do get an 8 I’d go with a 9-6” or 10’, no Chums to speak of on the peninsula streams. I would also get an OPST Commando or Wolff Ambush in full intermediate sink. The Kenai proper fishes well with sinking lines, above Skilak lake it runs 4000 cfs, need to get down. Two years ago in mid-June it was running 140% above normal at 6000 cfs. If you get a chance to fish the lower Peninsula streams like the Anchor, Deep Creek and Ninilchick you’ll see they are small streams and can get crowded as they are only open certain days for non-residents, but are your best chance at a King. Upper Russian and Kenai below the mouth of Russian can be good, hike up or down a ways and you’ll escape the crowds. Fish egg patterns or flesh flies below the Sockeye for rainbows. Don’t forget the lakes, a lot of good trout fishing, float tube or canoe a must. Leeches and fry patterns, a lot of lakes have Stickleback minnows. Fish the twilight hours on the lakes and look for fish cruising the shoreline. You’ll need a vehicle, used to be a cheap car rental for beaters on the spur highway at Beaver Creek between Soldotna and Kenai.
You’re going to have a great experience, enjoy it and hope you’ll make lots of $$.
As far as money goes I'm hopeful but not expecting. Last year was this guys first year seining and he was in the 70th percentile of most fish caught. I guess odd numbered years fish better than even numbered but a hatchery that hasn't functioned in the last few years is adding an estimated 4-5 million pounds of catchable fish.

Robert-thanks a bunch for the info on the area, the guy I'm fishing with has a couple extra rigs that he says he would be fine with me taking so I should be there. Any specific patterns that you found especially effective that wouldn't hurt to add to the box before I get up there?

Nick-I guess there are no chum around where I'll be. Would you still recommend an 8 for sockeye, pinks, and silver and do you think it'd be overkill for the rainbows and dolly varden?

Adam-I was looking into an X in a 7 actual. Do you say the 8 makes a good 7 just because it is so light or does it fish more like a 7?


Well-Known Member
I've caught sockeye and silvers on a 7 wt, but would rather have used an 8. Since you have a 4 and a 6, an 8 just makes more sense as your next rod acquisition.


20F59C84-A5A1-4271-B633-A5C5358CF3E6.jpeg Cameron. I have never fished the Kenai, but I’ve fished the ABC islands in SE, inland rivers east of Denali to the Yukon, a few rivers near Iliama, and the SW peninsula south of King Salmon.

My advice would be to leave the 4wt at home. Your 6 wt will be fine for grayling, dollies, some sockeye, and maybe smaller bows. For Silvers, char, chum, pinks, and bigger bows you’ll be seriously outgunned with a 6 wt and if you happen onto Kings, you’d really want to have a salmon rod instead of a lower 48 trout rod.

When your arm goes numb after catching big silvers on an 8 wt you’ll be very happy you didn’t have a 4 wt.

Bring a head net with a wide brimmed hat and keep an eye out for bears and swamp donkies . . .
For flies I found that egg and flesh patterns worked best when salmon are in the river but black or purple egg sucking leeches worked well also. For Dollies I had good luck with anything in red or orange and silver, like an optic, would work when other patterns failed. In smaller #8-10 sizes it worked on reds as well. Reds are usually in the soft water, a weighted fly on a floating line/9’ leader would get them.

Bob Balder

Willing to learn anything...
I would leave the 4wt at home as well. The 6 works for most and an 8 wt., in my view is a must for sockeye. I spent some time up there last summer and a large sockeye buck, fresh out of the salt can be a handful, a lot of fun to catch but they will take a good 6 wt. to task. Highly recomend an 8wt.
Have agreat time and don't forget the bug juice!

I used to live in Anchorage and fished those areas religiously. I would have two rods, a six and eight weight. The six is great for rainbows and dollies, and the eight for silvers and sockeye. This is what I used. You could get away with a 7 for both, but I wouldn't recommended it. Unless your fishing the Middle Kenai, a seven weight is just a little much for bows, and honestly a little light for a freight train sockeye. As mentioned, I would leave the 4 weight at home, unless your fishing some of the smaller lakes. The issue is that you will hook into sockeye while fishing for dollies even in small creeks, and well you get the idea. If you have any other questions, shoot me a PM.
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Trapper- That seems like a great link and recommendation. Thank you for the assist, I will shoot them an email tomorrow!

Josh-I appreciate it and I'll probably send you a PM with some more questions specific to the area if you don't mind!

The consensus is sounding like a 4 is the equivalent of fishing with a glass 2 wt in western Montana so it will probably stay at home. Does anyone have any good recommendations for a favorite 8? Robert mentioned earlier that a 9'6" or 10' may be a good choice. Does anyone have any opinions on this? More importantly, I expect the fishing will be similar to trout fishing except larger so I feel like I should be looking at "trouty" actions that I am familiar with and enjoy that are good for line control and getting good drifts rather than "salty" actions designed to fight head winds and make 80 foot shots. Is this in the right school of thought?

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