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Weekly Fish Story – The Unintentional Grand Slam

Posted on August 15 2016

Sockeye salmon caught on a popper.
True story.. Photo: Ed Novinsky.

We’re back with another edition of our ‘Weekly Fish Stories‘ series of posts where our guides and guests share their first hand experience of a notable moment on the water – A quick snapshot of awesomeness if you will..

Today’s weekly fish story comes from Alaska West guide, Jim Palmersheim, on a special day spent with long time Deneki pal, Ed Novinsky.


Weekly Fish Story – The Unintentional Grand Slam

Fellow artist, Ed Novinsky and I have been fishing together during this particular week for ten years. His real love is fishing for our beloved leopard rainbows. In fact, he uses photos of them to incorporate into images for his amazing art. Often the focus of his paintings are the leopard-like spots of the fish’s adipose fin or just the eye itself. However, on this particular day, we decided we were going to target the few silvers that were just starting to push up in the river.

We started in the lower river fishing the tide without much luck, so we kept moving up river hoping to locate fish. Somewhere around mid-morning we started to get into large pinks and bright chums, with fresh sea lice nonetheless.. But still no silvers. Moving up the river again, we stopped at a well know underwater shelf where fish marching up the river often rest momentarily before continuing to forge ahead. Just after a few casts, Ed hooked up with a nice buck silver.”Yeah! This is more like it”. Soon following, a fury of more chums, pinks, a couple more silvers it was “crickets.” Not a fish to be seen so we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon up river.

We found a promising spot upstream with a couple of converging channels making a great spot for salmon, especially sockeye, to hold and gather. A good spot for some colored up dollies of which Ed also likes to photograph as well. We tied on a nice juicy looking sculpin pattern and began to cast towards the bank and strip directly back. After a few casts, he hooked into something big which took one good hard run, stopping just short of the outlet, and luckily just shy of the fast current at the confluence of both channels. At first I thought he had fouled hooked one of the many sockeye milling around and was about to suggest clamping down and breaking it off to avoid the inevitable broken rod or over-exhausted fish. Then it started to make its way back, putting a deep strain on the butt section of his 6 weight in the process. As it got closer, I stood ready with the net. The fish swirled frantically in the water, coloring it up so that all that we could see was the back of ‘something’ red. After netting it and bringing it in to release, we finally got a good look at it and simultaneously said “It’s a king!”

Ed, doing the math in his head, realized the opportunity, and said he was just one sockeye short of a grand slam. I said, “Cool, you know they’ll eat a popper..” And wouldn’t you know.. It did!

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