By: Dustin Slinker
It’s been a bounce back year for silver salmon on Ship Creek. We are coming off the heels of last year where silver salmon were poor in South Central Alaska. Not only is the run size larger than previous years, but the fish are greater in size. It’s been impressive.
I think we are in the peak right now. Early in the season we see a lot of bucks coming into the creek. As we progress into the season the females mature and come in. That signals the peak of the run. In the last three days we are seeing more female fish, which tells me we are near the peak. The females are coming in and are ready to spawn. Shortly I’m expecting to see some larger bucks come in, too. I think there’s maybe a few more weeks of strong fishing before we have to start working for the fish.
Today there was a wall of fish, literally bank to bank, that ran from my Bait Shack downstream to the C Street Bridge. I haven’t seen this many fish in the river since 2006. It’s gross the amount of fish in Ship Creek. We are seeing a lot of big fish coming up, too. I’ve seen fish pushing 13 pounds, which is big for Ship Creek. This happened in 2006 and 2007, but hasn’t happened since. I think somebody will find a 14 or 15 pound fish this season.
The best time to target silvers in Ship Creek is three hours before the high tide to three hours after the high tide. That six-hour window is going to provide the best opportunity for both novice and experienced anglers to target silver salmon with bait or spinners. The reason why this is the best window is because this is when the large schools of salmon are entering the creek.
There’s two ways to easily target salmon in Ship Creek. The most important thing in the tidal fishing is using bait under a bobber or using spinners or artificial lures. Both of these methods you need the tidewater coming in through the slack tide and the tide going out to maximize the effectiveness of the bait and hardware. This is when anglers have the greatest opportunities to catch fish.
For Ship Creek I primarily target salmon using bait, which is cured salmon roe. However, artificial lures such as Blue Fox Vibrax spinners work well. I’d recommend using a size 4 or 5. The hot colors that remain constant locally are pinks and greens. You have days that other colors work, too. All lures will catch fish down here, but the Blue Fox lures catch more and larger fish here.
The reason I like bait is there’s no question to where the hook is when that bobber goes down. The fish has the hook in his mouth and the excitement of watching your float moving downstream and then suddenly disappearing under the water gets your adrenaline going. I use Natural, Pink & Orange Pautzke Fire Cure eggs (in that order) when targeting silvers, which is different than king season when I use Red Fire Cure. Oftentimes, I’ll catch a fish or two on one color and then switch to another to keep the bite going.
There’s no doubt that bait catches more fish in the mouth than any other method in this creek. I’ll place the eggs on a size 1 to a 2/0 Gamakatsu octopus hooks and fish it on 12-pound P-Line. I use longer 10-foot-six St Crois Avid Float Rods to target silvers with bait. The extra length allows me to mend my line and achieve a longer and straighter drift.
* Editor’s Note: Dustin Slinker operates The Bait Shack along the banks of Ship Creek. The Bait Shack is the only streamside bait & tackle shop and sells licenses, offers gear rentals and guide services on Ship Creek. For more info please visit www.thebaitshackak.com or https://www.facebook.com/thebaitshack.
Editor’s Note: In Ship Creek all silvers must be caught in the mouth to be kept. They cannot be removed from the water if they plan to be released. It’s just like kings. Anglers may retain three salmon per day, which on Ship Creek all three can be silvers.