How to Fish for Klutina River Red Salmon

How to Fish for Klutina River Red Salmon

[MUSIC PLAYING] Oh, going for a run! Ouch! Burned my thumb. There’s a nice Klutina red. Dinner! Hello my name’s Scott Maclean. I’m a fisheries biologist
with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. And today, we’re here on
the banks of the Klutina river to fish for
sockeye salmon, also known as red salmon. It’s a beautiful day,
so let’s go fishing. The Klutina River is a
beautiful glacial-fed tributary of the Copper River
with fast water and a large run
of sockeye salmon. The Klutina River
sport fisheries can be accessed from
several locations next to the Richardson Highway
and Old Richardson Highway bridges. At the Richardson
Highway bridge, the river can be accessed on
the upstream side of the bridge within the highway right of way. There are parking areas at
both ends of this bridge, but camping is not permitted. The land upstream of the
Richardson Highway Bridge is primarily owned by the
Ahtna Native Corporation, and access across these
lands requires a permit from this corporation. But there are 10-foot
wide public easements to access the river. The downstream side of the
Richardson Highway Bridge, on the south bank of
the Klutina River, has a developed gravel
road and parking area that is suitable for
RV parking at the top, near the highway. An undeveloped public boat
launch can also be found here. As with the other
parking sites, camping is not permitted at this site. However, several
private campgrounds are located just
downstream of the launch. There are 10-foot wide
public easements, as well, on the downstream side. The Old Richardson
Highway Bridge crosses the Klutina River near
the community at Copper Center. Upstream of the bridge,
there are private campgrounds on each bank of the river. Access to the river
at these campgrounds are for their clients only. The majority of the land
downstream of the bridge is private, but there are
10-foot wide public easements on the north bank for
approximately a quarter mile and on the south bank from
the bridge for approximately a mile, all the way
to the Copper River. The south bank trail crosses
several side channels to access the
Klutina River mouth, so hip boots might be necessary. Camping and fires are not
allowed along these easements, and please be sure to
pack out any trash. We recommend contacting your
local ADF&G office in Glenallen if you have specific questions
about accessing this area. So let’s talk about some
of the things you’ll need. First of all, you’ll want to
have your Alaska sport fishing license on your person
while you’re fishing. And next, we’ll talk about a
range of the rods and reels that commonly are used–
typically, seven to nine foot in length medium-action rods. This one here, for
example, is a seven foot with a spincast reel. We also have a fly rod,
nine foot, eight weight with monofilament on the reel. And some folks prefer
to have a baitcast. This is an eight and a
half foot, medium action. This one has braided line. And the braided line has less
resistance for its strength, has greater, I
think, sensitivity. However, it can be more
challenging to use. It likes to wrap around your
rod tip or in between your lead. All of these reels should
be able to accommodate 15- to 20-pound test line to
help hold up to not only the abrasion in the
river but the fact that these fish typically
range four to eight pounds, and in the fast
current, they can really pull on your line pretty hard
and give you a good fight. Next, we’ll talk about what you
need at the end of your line. Some of the terminal
tackle that’s commonly used is these Russian River flies
or sockeye flies, coho flies. These are a long shank
with a narrow hook gap. And then they’re
tied to the leader, which is typically
two and a half to three feet or even longer. And, of course, you need
a weight to keep that down along the bottom. So here, there’s an example of
some surgical tubing with lead. This is a common method. Other methods are
lead attachments, anything from split shots
to kind of the slinky style. But another advantage
of the surgical tubing is it has some stretch to it. And if your lead is caught
in a snag, it’ll slide out. The length of the
lead is going to be determined by what you
find on your first cast, first several casts. I typically start with a inch,
inch and a half piece of lead. And if it’s drifting fast and
you’re not touching bottom, you will of course
want to go heavier. You want to just lightly
tap the bottom of the river. And of course, if you
have too much lead, you’re going to be
snagging, catching rocks. So you just simply
grab your pliers and work that little
extra bit of lead off. Of course, keep the lead,
pack your trash out. The ultimate goal is to get
a nice, even drift as you– after you cast,
flip your fly, you want it to just
swing downstream, just lightly tapping
all the way along. Another example is
just simply yarn. This hook here is a 3/0
size, octopus style. I don’t think what
color matters too much, but most people use
chartreuse or orange. It’s just important to
have that yarn on there to help control that drift. The yarn can be
bought separately, and then once you tie your
hook on, make an egg loop and just slide that yarn
underneath the egg loop. And then here’s a
little variation on the lead– surgical
tubing is slid onto the line before you tie your hook. And then the lead is
just inserted in there. What that allows
you an advantage of is sliding that lead to whatever
length you find most effective. So you can make that adjustment
without cutting your line. And then it also allows
you to pull that off a rock if you get hung up. It releases much easier. Again, this is another 3/0 hook. Just tie an egg loop
there and pull it tight. So let’s go fishing. So on the Klutina
River, the sockeye run starts in early June and goes
through mid- to late-July. Probably peak time is
around third week in June. All right. We’ve got a red on. Oh! Going for a run! Ouch! Burned my thumb. Lots of fight in it. These are a blast. Oh, boy. He’s a fighter. I’m gonna pull him
into the shallows here and check if he’s
hooked in the mouth. The hook’s in the mouth,
so it’s not a foul hook. We’re going to keep this one. Remove the hook. There’s a nice Klutina red. Dinner! So now I’m going to cut the
gills to bleed the fish out to improve the
quality of the flesh. Stack a few rocks around,
make a bit of a crib for it. That way, it’ll continue to
bleed out while I’m fishing. All right. I’m going to talk
about the difference between a legally hooked salmon
and a foul hooked salmon. Legally hooked is defined as
being hooked in the mouth. The point of the
hook has to originate from the inside of the mouth. Often, they’re in the
corner of the mouth. That is, the point of the
hook goes into the mouth, and then points outward. That’s legal. Sometimes down through the
jaw– lower jaw or upper jaw. That’s legally hooked. But anywhere outside the
mouth is foul hooked. It that point originates from
the outside– for example, in the lower jaw
and is hooked up through– that would
be a foul hook. The fish would need to be
released without taking it out of the water. The same thing if it were
foul hooked in the fin or up in the dorsal or
tail, some other part. That’s all foul hooked. Those fish must be released. And you want to make
that determination before you remove
them from the water and release back into the river. It truly is a
phenomenal fishery. The sockeye in this river
put up a good fight. It’s fast water. They’re beautiful
fish, great to eat. Got the view of the
mountains, the Wrangells. And there’s
relatively good amount of elbow room on the river. If you really want
to work the river, there’s plenty of access points. Let’s go try and
catch another one. What I like to look for is a
fairly fast, uniform current along the shoreline
where I don’t typically go over my knees. The fish come in fairly close
to the shore, a matter of three to 10 feet off the shore,
swimming up into areas where there’s lower velocity. So using my left hand, I
like to retrieve the line, take the slack out. And then I essentially shoot
my line out into the river. We don’t need to cast very far. Let it drift. Return just upstream. I like to keep my rod tip as
close to the water as possible. So what I’m feeling for is
just that light bounce off the rocks. And a lot of times, you’ll
pick up a fish right at the tail end of your swing. We’re trying to essentially
floss the fish with the fly. The fish have their
mouth open a lot, and the fly swings
across into their mouth. That’s why it’s a good idea
to wear eye protection. If I feel a sudden stop–
after doing this several times, you’ll get a better
feel for what’s a rock and what’ll be a fish. There’s a fish! All right. Now, I’m going to
pull the fish in, confirm it’s legally hooked. Can’t tell where I’ve hooked it. Somewhere in the head or mouth. Gonna take a closer look here. This one’s caught in
the corner of the mouth. It’s a sockeye. And we’re going to keep this
one towards our bag limit. Gonna bonk it. Gonna bleed the fish
by cutting the gills. And I’m going to place it
in the crib with the other. That’s how it’s done. As you can see,
it’s getting late. I’m done fishing for now. But I’m going to take home
these beautiful Klutina reds. And give a try, and good luck. [MUSIC PLAYING]

9 thoughts on “How to Fish for Klutina River Red Salmon

  1. Been fishing Alaska for Reds for 28 years mostly the Russian and Kenai river. Going to have to check this river out. Were you at a particular camp ground?

  2. I just noticed this was the last video that was uploaded. And that was 2 years ago. I would love to see more. Do you plan on any new ones?

  3. I fished here and I am not an experienced fisherman at all, so it was pretty difficult to get anything, however I did get one red to bite and I got too damn excited and pulled it in too hard and the damn fish flew in the air and I seen em, I seen em with my own two flyin through tha air, then my gahdman hook flew off and he fucker got away.

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