Tip #20 Sockeye Fishing Safety Reminder!
Fishing is no doubt an enjoyable and relaxing activity with few apparent "dangers." However a recent event at the Russian River has prompted this tip for those who have never fished for sockeye salmon in Alaska before.
The typical rigging for reds is usually a spinning rod, a coho fly attached to the end of your line and a heavy split shot or 3/8 oz. rubber core sinker attached 18 inches above the fly. And fishing for sockeye salmon is a CLOSE encounter....fish are moving upstream very near the river bank, literally at the anglers' feet. So fishing requires no casting; only about a rod and a half length of line to swing out and drift near the bottom....then repeat the process.
A fish "strike" is very slight, often indicated by just a slight hesitation in the fly's drift momentum downstream. For those familiar with this type of fishing, that slight pause in your drift will illicit a hook-setting response. Since the water is quite shallow and the line length is so short, if there wasn't a fish at the other end, this deadly combination of sharp hook and sinker can come flying out of the water. The angler himself as well as any nearby anglers or onlookers can be in a direct line of this flying concoction.
This past week an angler at the Russian River ended up with a hook in his eye and no doubt may have lost his sight from this unfortunate incident. Although this is an uncomfortable topic to discuss, it is one well worth mentioning for those new to this sport. Each season the Soldotna hospital treats dozens of sockeye flyfishing related injuries, mostly involving hooks stuck in various parts of one's anatomy.
Typically anglers fishing clear water streams such as the Russian River will wear polarized sunglasses so that they can cast to passing fish. Those anglers fishing on glacial streams like the Kenai often do not wear glasses because you can't see the passing fish.
AOJ advises ALL sockeye anglers, including your kids, to wear some type of eye protection when fishing....especially in very crowded locations along the Kenai, Russian and other streams. Although you yourself may use safe fishing techniques, that angler right next to you MAY NOT. Some red fishermen are quite aggressive in their fishing mannerisms. If you don't feel comfortable with the guy next to you, just MOVE. Its not worth a bad experience or worse.
Good SAFE Fishin'
All Content Copyright ©1996-99
Visual Media Design & Alaska Outdoor Journal
All Rights Reserved