At Alaska West, we’re lucky to be able to target fish in a whole bunch of different ways; from swinging flies on foot, to walking smaller side channels, to rowing our jet sleds in traditional ‘drift boat’ fashion.
Sometimes, when fishing for aggressive ‘podded up’ species like silver salmon, fishing from a fixed position makes the most sense. Therefore, sometimes our guides will anchor up in deeper water, allowing the angler to cast towards the shallower holding water on the opposite bank that might otherwise be out of reach from shore.
A lot of times, fishing from an anchored boat is a great way to hook a whole bunch of fish (particularly salmon), although landing them can be a bit tricky. After all, there’s a lot more obstacles to get in the way on the boat than there is on the gravel bar. One of those obstacles is the very thing you’re standing on.. That’s right, the boat!
Fish seem to know this all too well, and it’s not uncommon for spunky fish like silver or chum salmon to run directly under the boat upon being hooked. Sometimes, well into the fight, some fish will seek refuge directly under the boat, using it as a current break to take a quick breather. In either case, the first thing you should do is..
When a fish darts under the boat (when anchored in deep water of course), many anglers forget that they have just as much room to work with below the surface of the water as they do in the air above. So, when that fish makes a move under the boat, stick your rod tip in the water and fight him from below! Doing so does the following..
- It clears line from the bottom of the boat. There are a lot of sharp edges on the bottom of the boat. Sticking your rod tip in the water keeps the line away from the boat and/or outboard that could potentially cut the leader, or worse, fly line.
- It keeps an appropriate bend in the rod. Aside from the awkward angle of the fish below you, remember that by fishing from a boat, you’re also fishing from an elevated position. That puts a bend in the rod that does little too control the fish. Sticking the rod tip in the water allows for the same arc that you would fight a fish from shore from, the only difference is it’s under the water instead of in the air.
- It keeps your rod in one piece. A fish running under you with the rod raised high is a great way to break a rod. All the pressure is placed on the tip section of the rod in an angle that its not suppose to bend. Sticking the rod in the water allows for a more uniform bend of the rod allowing the butt section to work its magic, not the tip.
- It puts more pressure on the fish. Pressure is a good thing when fighting strong fish. The strength of the current can actually help to bend the rod deeper into the butt section where the power is. Translation, more power to coax the fish out from under the boat.
- It buys you time to get around obstacles. In the event that the fish takes off under the boat and just keeps on going, immediately sticking your rod tip in the water will buy you time to manuever the fly line around oar handles, outboards, and the like in attempts to fight the fish from the other side of the boat.