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Late July in Alaska – Your Quiver

Posted on January 19 2010

Trouty water in late July.  Photo: Cameron Miller
Trouty water in late July. Photo: Cameron Miller

We continue our series on rod quivers today – combinations of rods that are appropriate for our fisheries at various times of year.

Today’s fishery is the ultimate in ‘bring the tackle shop along if you’ve got it’.  During late July at Alaska West, we fish for all 5 species of Pacific salmon, as well as rainbows, dollies and grayling.  We drift flesh flies.  We walk gravel bars with spey rods.  We crawl up tiny little side channels.  We fish mouse patterns.  Other that pike and sheefish, if you can catch it on a fly in Alaska, we’re probably doing it in late July at Alaska West.

Because of the variety in targeted species and fishing techniques, today’s quiver is going to get a little ridiculous.  We’ll start by saying that there’s nothing at all wrong with coming to Alaska West in late July with 1 or 2 rods.  When we say ‘dream quiver’, we mean it – not at all necessary but pretty cool if you can pull it off.

Must Have

  • An 8-weight with a floating line for silvers, chums and sockeye.  We generally catch our first silver right around July 15th, and the run picks up right into August.  Chum and sockeye fishing can be really fast-paced in July.
  • A 6-weight with a floating line for rainbows.  Late July is the time of greatest variety in our rainbow fishery – side channels, upriver spawning beds and lower river snags and dropoffs are all in play.  A 6 weight is your most versatile choice for a trout rod.

Nice to Have

  • A 9 weight spey rod or a 10-12 weight single-handed rod for kings.  King season on the Kanektok typically closes on July 25th, and fresh fish continue to enter the lower river right up to that point.  Our peak numbers of kings are caught between mid-June and mid-July, but if you’re around later in July while the season is still open, it never hurts to try your hand at chasing a seal-sized salmonid.
  • There’s nothing wrong with bringing along a 5 weight for rainbows in side channels or dollies on upriver spawning beds.
  • If you’re into the two-handed game, you should bring a 5 weight switch rod or a 5 weight spey rod.  We’re fishing these small two-handers more each year for trout and we’re having a lot of fun with it.

Dream Quiver

  • To the list above you could add another 6 weight – useful if you’d like to target a pod of pink salmon, or just to have multiple trout rigs strung up at all times.
  • If you want to target grayling on dry flies in side channels, a 3 or 4 weight could be a lot of fun.  We wouldn’t recommend fishing a rod this light with an egg or flesh imitation due to the likelihood of hooking a rainbow or a dolly that would bend the rod in half, but for grayling on the surface it’s fun to have something truly light along.

Bring it all!  Seriously, one of the fun things about fishing in late July at Alaska West is that variety in species means variety in techniques and gear too.  Those rods aren’t doing any good in your garage!

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