Alaska Silvers


ISO brown liquor and wild salmonoids
I wrote this in response to a recent IM I got asking about fishing in Alaska. I thought I'd share it with others.

My favorite Alaska fish is Silvers. I enjoyed catching large 'bows and grayling, but I can catch those fish here in Montana. Catching a 15 or 16 lb Silver on a Mouse pattern or streamer is something that has burned deep memories into my brain. I've never done crack cocaine or Meth (and have ZERO urge to do so) but I'm thinking catching Silvers that take me into my backing a couple of times probably is about the same rush.


I was sight fighting Silvers on the Talachalitna River with articulated streamers I tied myself. I was standing on the bow of an Alaska Jet Sled (16' flat bottom jet outboard boat). I watched this bad boy turn out of the pod and suck up my fly. I was using a 896 Sage RPL+ with a Teeny 200 sink tip on an Abel reel.

The big male acted like he was headed back to the salt, 80 river miles away. I kept cranking down the 'stop a truck' drag and he seemed unfazed. I was 30 yards into my backing when the line went slack.


Then I saw my fly line made a 180º loop. The torpedo was headed right at the boat at Mach 2 with my fly still embedded in his jaw. As I was stripping line like a madman, the torpedo went under the boat with my fly line in tow, and launched six feet into the air.

I started laughing like a 5-year old who got his most cherished Christmas present.

I finally got the slack out of my line and worked him back from under the anchored boat and put him in the net.

It was a new drug.


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Alaska is still on my bucket list but top-water silvers are the #1 priority when I finally go. I totally understand the addictive power of silvers on fly gear (hence my moniker). The aerial acrobatics, blistering runs, and crazy direction changes can't be beat in freshwater.

Had a similar experience one time I was fishing a stillwater estuary when a hot silver changed directions and the line went slack. Then next thing I see is a 10lb cruise missile launching out of the water straight at the boat. I can still see it in slo-mo, as the fish passed an arms length away, at eye-level, with the fly line trailing behind. It completely cleared the boat, and somehow got it back on the reel and landed it. Thought about changing my moniker to SilverFlyer after that!
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You have to laugh when a big male raises up to smash your Wog, lifts the floating fly on top of his kipe and gets confused trying to locate it. Silvers on top are the good stuff.


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I know the feeling! The first steelhead I hooked on a fly rod rocketed 3 feet out of the water and almost hooked my line in an overhanging tree, before the rod was even to the backbone on the hookset. Ordered a full set up the next day and fished almost every day for 3 months.
Topwater, subsurface.... I'll take coho anyway I can get em. Big ones even better. There is simply no fish I would rather fly fish for.

My favorite coho move is hookup, then haul ass in one direction for fifty or sixty feet, then jump, change directions mid air, and be headed right back towards you after landing. Coho are the kings of figuring out how to slack line ya. I absolutely love em.