LURE FISHING FOR ALASKA SALMON - What Works and When to Use Them!
Lure fishing is one of the better techniques to quickly cover large areas of water to determine if fish are present. Lures are effective for chinook (king), silver (coho) and pink salmon. They also work well for rainbows, char, and grayling.
Spinners: Of all the fishing lures we have used in Alaska, the Mepps Aglia spinners have been the most effective. If we could only take one lure with us - this would be the lure and if we could only take one color, it would be fluorescent orange. Fortuneately, we aren't just limited to one color and we would recommend that you also take along fluorescent yellow and fluorescent pink if you are targeting kings. Our experience has been that when the king bite occassionally turns off with orange, the pink and yellow colors turned the bite right back on. Sizes 4 and 5 both work well. If you are fishing a river that is limited to single hooks, you can change out the trebble hooks for a single, as we have done in the illustration, or you may consider the new Mepps "LongCast" spinners that are available with either single or trebble hooks.
Spoons work well for kings, silvers and pinks. We typically use Pixie brand spoons with fluorescent orange, green, yellow, or pink plastic in size 1/2 or 3/8 ounce. Pixies come with single or trebble hooks making for easy compliance with whatever hook restrictions the river may have.
Spinner & Spoons - When to Use: The following discussion is intended to help you decide whether the spinner or spoon will be the better choice based on the particular hole you are fishing. If you are fishing a section of river that is slow and no more than six or eight feet deep, you will want to chose the spinner. The spinner will present well in these situations and allow for a slow retrieve that most fish prefer. If you are fishing faster water, or particularly deep water, the weight and shape of the spoon will allow it to get down to the proper height and stay there during the retrieve.
Spinner & Spoon Techniques: The natural tendancy when fishing spinners or spoons is to cast directly across the river and then end up retrieving the lure upstream. The most effective technique though is casting upriver as much as possible and then slowly bringing the lure right down toward the face of all the upriver facing fish. This technique is particularly effective for catching king salmon. The kings see the lure coming and believe their space is being invaded and readily strike the lure to show who is boss!
Basic Dive Lures & Technique: Cast the lure as far as you can angled upstream at a 45 degree angle and determine the appropriate retrieval speed. The correct retrieval speed will vary based on the current and river depth. Keep the lure just lightly touching the bottom every three or four feet. You will know when you have a bite using this technique because the line is tight and the lure is moving creating an obvious take. It is wise to take plenty of replacement hooks and associated hardware for your lures on a king fishing trip. Hooks dangling from a properly fished lure will occasionally catch on rocks and become dull. To avoid frequently replacing dulled hooks, a hook file is invaluable.
We have had great luck on kings using Luhr-Jensen Kwikfish, size #014 or K14, chartreuse and silver, with a three bead chain swivel extension connected to the front hook attachment. Attached to the three bead extension is a 3/0 Gamakatsu octopus style hook. The extension will place the hook low and behind the lure. While hook sharpeners are essential regardless what technique you use, they are critical for fishing Kwikfish. When fished properly, the lure, and consequently the hook, will come into frequent contact with the river bottom.
Pictured below is a chartreuse and silver size 14 Kwikfish with a 3 bead chain swivel extension.