GPS Coordinates: 55°51’2.82″N 161°17’48.11″W
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Hoodoo River Sport Fishing Tackle Supplemental
(Chinook and Coho salmon)
Anglers headed to the Hoodoo River to fly fish for king salmon or silver salmon will find the gear and techniques similar to that used for these species elsewhere. As always, there is no substitute for quality equipment, the value of which is immediately apparent upon hooking into your first smoking-hot, fresh-from-the-salt, chromer!
Remember also that Hoodoo Lodge only has a limited number of spare rods and reels. They are intended only as emergency back-ups should anglers, for whatever reason, find themselves in a pinch. As a general rule, you’ll need to bring all your fishing and personal equipment with you to the lodge.
The Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) is Alaska’s state fish and is one of the most important sport and commercial fish native to the Pacific coast of North America. It is the largest of all Pacific salmon, with weights of individual fish commonly exceeding 30 pounds. A 126-pound Chinook salmon taken in a fish trap near Petersburg, Alaska in 1949 is the largest on record. The largest sport-caught Chinook salmon was a 97-pound fish taken in the Kenai River in 1986.
The Chinook salmon has numerous local names. In Washington and Oregon, Chinook salmon are called Chinook, while in British Columbia they are called spring salmon. Other names are quinnat, tyee, tule, blackmouth, and king.
In North America, Chinook salmon range from the Monterey Bay area of California to the Chukchi Sea area of Alaska. On the Asian coast, Chinook salmon occur from the Anadyr River area of Siberia southward to Hokkaido, Japan. In Alaska, it is abundant from the southeastern panhandle to the Yukon River. Major populations return to the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Nushagak, Susitna, Kenai, Copper, Alsek, Taku, and Stikine rivers. Important runs also occur in many smaller streams.
Adults are distinguished by the black irregular spotting on the back and dorsal fins and on both lobes of the caudal or tail fin. Chinook salmon also have a black pigment along the gum line which gives them the name “blackmouth” in some areas.
In the ocean, the Chinook salmon is a robust, deep-bodied fish with a bluish-green coloration on the back which fades to a silvery color on the sides and white on the belly. Colors of spawning Chinook salmon in fresh water range from red to copper to almost black, depending on location and degree of maturation. Males are more deeply colored than the females and also are distinguished by their “ridgeback” condition and by their hooked nose or upper jaw. Juveniles in fresh water are recognized by well-developed parr marks which are bisected by the lateral line.
Like all species of Pacific salmon, Chinook salmon are anadromous. They hatch in fresh water, spend part of their life in the ocean, and then spawn in fresh water. All Chinooks die after spawning. Chinook salmon may become sexually mature from their second through seventh year, and as a result, fish in any spawning run may vary greatly in size. For example, a mature 3-year-old will probably weigh less than 4 pounds, while a mature 7-year-old may exceed 50 pounds. Females tend to be older than males at maturity. In many spawning runs, males outnumber females in all but the 6- and 7-year age groups. Small Chinooks that mature after spending only one winter in the ocean are commonly referred to as “jacks” and are usually males. Alaska streams normally receive a single run of Chinook salmon in the period from May through July.
Chinook salmon often make extensive freshwater spawning migrations to reach their home streams on some of the larger river systems. Yukon River spawners bound for the extreme headwaters in Yukon Territory, Canada, will travel more than 2,000 river miles during a 60-day period. Chinook salmon do not feed during the freshwater spawning migration, so their condition deteriorates gradually during the spawning run as they use stored body materials for energy and for the development of reproductive products.
Each female deposits from 3,000 to 14,000 eggs in several gravel nests, or redds, which she excavates in relatively deep, moving water. In Alaska, the eggs usually hatch in late winter or early spring, depending on time of spawning and water temperature. The newly hatched fish, called alevins, live in the gravel for several weeks until they gradually absorb the food in the attached yolk sac. These juveniles, called fry, wiggle up through the gravel by early spring. In Alaska, most juvenile Chinook salmon remain in fresh water until the following spring when they migrate to the ocean in their second year of life. These seaward migrants are called smolts.
Juvenile Chinooks in fresh water feed on plankton, then later eat insects. In the ocean, they eat a variety of organisms including herring, pilchard, sandlance, squid, and crustaceans. Salmon grow rapidly in the ocean and often double their weight during a single summer season.
Commercial Fishery & Subsistence:
North Pacific Chinook salmon catches during the late 1970s and early 1980s averaged more than 4 million fish per year. The United States harvested the majority of the catch followed by Canada, Japan, and the USSR. Alaska’s annual harvest during this period averaged about 731,000 fish per year, or about 32 percent of the North American catch. The majority of the Alaska catch is made in Southeast, Bristol Bay, and the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim areas. Fish taken commercially average about 18 pounds. The majority of the catch is made with troll gear and gillnets.
There is an excellent market for Chinook salmon because of their large size and excellent table qualities. Recent catches in Alaska have brought fishers nearly $19 million per year.
Catches by subsistence fishers in Southwest and Southcentral areas from 1976 through 1986 have averaged approximately 90,000 Chinook salmon. Approximately 90 percent of the subsistence harvest is taken in the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers.
The Chinook salmon is perhaps the most highly prized sport fish in Alaska and is extensively fished by anglers in the Southeast and Cook Inlet areas. Trolling with rigged herring is the favored method of angling in salt water, while lures and salmon eggs are used by freshwater anglers. The sport fishing harvest of Chinook salmon is over 76,000 annually, with Cook Inlet and adjacent watersheds contributing over half of the catch.
Unlike other salmon species, Chinook salmon rear in inshore marine waters and are, therefore, available to commercial and sport fishers all year. Catches of Chinook salmon in Southeast Alaska are regulated by quotas set under the Pacific Salmon Treaty. In other regions of Alaska, Chinook salmon fisheries are also closely managed to ensure stocks of Chinook salmon are not overharvested. – Kevin Delaney (Alaska Department of Fish & Game)
King Salmon (Chinook)
These are the largest fresh/cold water animals to target with a fly. Hoodoo kings average 15 – 25 pounds, with trophy specimens in the low 40-pound range.
Single-Handed Fly Rods:
For those anglers that like to use a single-handed rod, the Hoodoo River is best fished with a 9’ or 9’ 6” graphite rod designed to cast a 9, or 10-weight fly line. Each angler should have two rods available for the trip. Each rod should be rigged with a different fly and fly line combination. This saves time changing reels, spools and lines – maximizing your time on the water and swinging flies through and over salmon. Sage, Winston and Scott are all quality rod choices.
Single-Handed Fly Reels:
A high quality, single-action (direct drive) fly reel with rim-control feature is what to look for in a fly reel appropriate to handle mint-bright Chinooks. The reel should be equipped with a smooth, reliable, preferably disk-drag system. Reels should be filled with a minimum of 150 yards of fresh 20 or 30 lb. high-visibility backing. Galvan, Hardy, Abel, and Hatch are excellent reels to consider.
Single-Handed Fly Rod Lines:
The proper collection of fly lines is critical to your success and will get your fly in the right place in the water column. You may need various lines or line systems to effectively fish the Hoodoo River.
- Floating line: When conditions are right, a floater can really come into play, dead-drifting a heavy fly along the bottom. Scientific Anglers and Rio each produce excellent weight forward lives suitable for the Hoodoo.
- 8’ – 14’ sink-tip: This is an important line for effectively fishing the variety of water depths on the river. We highly recommend Scientific Anglers sink-tip lines, in a Type VI sink.
- 24’ sink-tip: Rio and Scientific Anglers sink tip lines in 150 grain and 200 grain models are good choices.
- The most popular single-handed fly line for kings at Hoodoo is a custom sinking tip, comprised of a Scientific Anglers Titan Floating Taper, with some custom looped tungsten tips. Specifically, you would want three different, 12’ tungsten tips – one in T-10, one in T-14, and one in T-18. We can make these for you here at The Fly Shop, and put welded loops on them so you can simply loop to loop them onto the Titan Floating Taper.
Two-Handed Fly Rods:
Two-handed rods are very popular and excellent tools for covering the water. In the past few years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of anglers using two-handed rods. Two-handed rods are arguably the most efficient tool to fish anadromous species; they make it easy for a lot of anglers, especially those with shoulder or elbow problems.
When considering a two-handed rod, don’t automatically go for the longest and strongest rod on the market. Get together with a casting and rod expert, and test several different weights, lengths and manufacturers until you find the rod that best fits your casting style, as well as the type of water and lines and flies you will be fishing. 9wt’s and 10wt’s between 12.5 and 14 feet long are the most common choice.
Spey casting will certainly have an advantage of efficiency and distance. If you have not already joined the two handed revolution now is the time to start! Spey casters can effectively cover more water. The Sage, Scott, and Echo are excellent choices in a double-handed king rod.
This is probably the most important part of your tackle system! A reel of mediocre quality will not withstand the brute force of a fresh sea run trophy Chinook. Any high quality single action reel with 150+ yards of backing capacity with a good drag system will work fine. Your classic Hardy’s and other noise makers, which we all love while steelheading, may be in big trouble against these powerful King’s…. Be warned.
Have a look over this diagram of the 2 main styles of modern short belly heads for 2 handers. For Kings’s, we only have to be concerned with the Skagit lines… These fish won’t rise to the surface, and Scandi’s don’t throw tips, so they are not useful tools in this game. This will serve as a general guideline that anyone with any questions about lines should follow. If you are uncertain which line you should select to properly match your rod, do not hesitate to contact us. We are experts in this field and we are happy to assist you in preparing the correct rod/line combinations.
Skagit style lines, the ones you want for chinook fishing, are basically shortened condensed shooting heads for spey rods developed in the Pacific North West by a hard core group of anglers that were looking for a way to cast sinking tip and large weighted flies long distances, with a very short compact casting stroke.
They are ideal for Kings. No other line can handle the deep tips we need in combo with the nasty flies we throw. These are the way forward in Chinook world. These lines should be paired with the MOW sink tips in Heavy(T-14), and make sure you get custom tips made in t-17 as well, in 12.5ft and 15ft for these rivers. Many Skagit casters prefer to prepare their own sink tips using varied lengths of T-14. We prefer these custom tips in 2.5ft increasing length increments.
Leaders are very simple…15lbs to 25 lbs. Maxima. You may want to bring a larger selection simply to ensure that you will be prepared for any and every situation.
King Salmon Flies:
Flies used are standard attractor patterns tied on stout hooks, sizes 4 to 2/0.Your flies should vary from heavily weighted to non-weighted. Colors should range from black, to orange, pink, purple, flame, red, chartreuse, or any combination thereof. A large weighted black streamer can be deadly. Comets with bead-chain eyes are highly effective. Large egg-patterns like large Glo-Bugs, King Caviar, and Egg/Sperm flies and the Egg-sucking Leech (black/purple) tied on a long shank stout hook work well.
Chinook flies are very similar to winter steelhead flies. Most of the usual winter steelhead menu, in the full spectrum of colors commonly used will work. Some are dark and somber. Others are vibrant and bright. This is because of the diversity of water conditions and run timing. Even the same river can display different moods and may go from low and clear to high and dark in a matter of hours. A large assortment of wet flies in varying sizes, colors, and weights will work well. A few favorites are Black or Purple for darks, and Pink or Chartreuse for bright colors. Orange, Cherise and combos of all of the above will all have their moments throughout the spring and summer. Tube Flies are the newest fly design concept to hit king and steelhead fly fishing, and the possibilities are endless. Tubes allow swing fishermen versatility when it comes to meeting changing conditions by changing the type of tube they use, allowing more control over the depth and action of the fly. They also have the advantage of having a larger fly with a shorter shank hook, exactly what is called for to drag out large Chinook from deep fast rivers. Remember to have flies also in varying weights and sizes as well as a variety of colors. It pays to carry a variety of patterns and be prepared for whatever nature and her fish can throw at you. Chinook will always be deliciously unpredictable.
- Bjorn’s Super Prawns (“popsicle”, chartreuse, pink, purple, orange crush), #1/0
- Spey Prawn (hot orange, chartreuse, pink), #1/0
- Super Spey Predator (blue/purple, black/red), #1/0
- Hareball Leeches (fuchsia, orange, pink/purple), #1/0
- Mercer’s King Caviar, #1/0
- Marabou Coneheads (popsicle, blue moon, volcano), #1/0
- Egg Sucking Leech, #4 – 2
- Sili Leg Intruder, #1/0
- Comets (orange, chartreuse), #2
- Motion Prawn (purple, pink, black), #2
- Sleeches, purple w/pink egg #2
Call the The Fly Shop® (800) 669-3474 to put a package together for you that will work in the majority of fishing scenarios.
Bring oversized hooks as well! These guys are absolute beasts, standard steelhead hooks will bend out. Gamakatsu Octopus #2/0 are great to change them out with. Bring 1/8 oz lead cone worm weights as well. These are great for fast adjustment when you really need a fly down fast.
Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) also called silver salmon, are found in coastal waters of Alaska from Southeast to Point Hope on the Chukchi Sea and in the Yukon River to the Alaska-Yukon border. Coho are extremely adaptable and occur in nearly all accessible bodies of fresh water, from large trans-boundary watersheds to small tributaries.
Adults usually weigh 8 to 12 pounds and are 24 to 30 inches long, but individuals weighing over 30 pounds have been landed. Adults in salt water or newly returning to fresh water are bright silver with small black spots on the back and on the upper lobe of the caudal fin (tail). They can be distinguished from Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) by the lack of black spots on the lower lobe of the tail and by their white gums; Chinook have small black spots on both caudal lobes and they have black gums. Spawning adults of both sexes have dark backs and heads with maroon to reddish sides. The males develop a prominent hooked snout with large teeth called a kype. Juvenile coho salmon have 8 to 12 parr marks evenly distributed above and below the lateral line with the parr marks narrower than the interspaces. The adipose fin is uniformly pigmented and the anal fin has a long leading edge, usually tipped with white. The fins of juvenile coho are frequently tinted with orange.
Coho salmon enter spawning streams from July to November, usually during periods of high runoff. Adult coho return timing reflects requirements of specific stocks. For example, in some streams with barrier falls, adults arrive in July when the water is low and the falls are passable, however in some streams, coho may wait until August or September when higher flows from fall rains allow passage into small streams not normally passable at low flows In large rivers, adults must arrive early, as they need several weeks or months to reach headwater spawning grounds. Run timing is also regulated by water temperature at spawning grounds: where temperatures are low and eggs develop slowly, spawners return early to compensate. Conversely, where temperatures are warm, adults are late spawners. Adults hold in pools until they ripen, then move onto spawning grounds; spawning generally occurs at night. The female digs a nest, called a redd, and deposits 2,400 to 4,500 eggs. As the eggs are deposited, they are fertilized with sperm, known as milt, from the male. The eggs develop during the winter, hatch in early spring, and the embryos remain in the gravel utilizing their egg yolk until they emerge in May or June. The emergent fry occupy shallow stream margins, and, as they grow, establish territories which they defend from other salmonids. They live in ponds, lakes, and pools within streams and rivers, usually among submerged, woody debris- in quiet areas free of current- from which they dart out to seize drifting insects.
During the fall, juvenile coho may travel miles before locating off-channel habitat where they pass the winter free of floods. Some fish leave fresh water in the spring and rear in brackish estuarine ponds and then migrate back into fresh water in the fall. They spend one to three winters in streams and may spend up to five winters in lakes before migrating to the sea as smolt. Time spent at sea varies. Some males (called jacks) mature and return after only 6 months at sea at a length of about 12 inches, while most fish stay 18 months before returning as full size adults.
Little is known about the ocean migrations of coho salmon. High seas tagging shows that maturing Southeast Alaska coho move northward throughout the spring and appear to concentrate in the central Gulf of Alaska in June. They later disperse towards shore and migrate along the shoreline until they reach their stream of origin.
The commercial catch of coho salmon has increased significantly from low catches in the 1960s, reaching 9.5 million fish in 1994. About half the commercially harvested coho were taken in Southeast Alaska, primarily by the troll fishery.
The coho salmon is a premier sport fish and is taken in fresh and salt water from July to September. In 2005, anglers throughout Alaska caught 1.4 million coho salmon. In salt water they are taken primarily by trolling or mooching (drifting) with herring or with flies or lures along shore. In fresh water they hit salmon eggs, flies, spoons, or spinners. Coho are spectacular fighters and the most acrobatic of the Pacific salmon. On light tackle, coho provide a thrilling and memorable fishing experience. – Text: Steve Elliott
Silver Salmon (Coho)
Single handed rods are perfect for silvers, as casting distance is not critical, but actively stripping the fly back in is. We recommend a 7 or 8-weight graphite rod, 9’ or 9’ 6” in length. Winston, Scott, and Sage are excellent rods to consider.
A high quality, single-action (direct drive) fly reel with rim-control feature is what to look for in a fly reel appropriate to handle ocean-bright coho. The reel should be equipped with a smooth, reliable, preferably disk-drag system. Reels should be filled with a minimum of 150 yards of fresh 20 lb. high-visibility backing. Abel, Galvan, Hardy, Abel, Ross and Hatch make quality reels.
The proper collection of fly lines is critical to your success and will get your fly in the proper water column. You need three lines or line systems to effectively fish the Hoodoo River.
- Floating line: When conditions are right a floater really comes into play for skating a Pink Pollywog on top, and fishing a weighted wet fly just under the surface.
- 10’ – 15’ sink-tip: This can be an important line for fishing varying water levels on the river. We highly recommend Scientific Anglers sink-tip lines, in a Type III sink.
Silver Salmon Flies:
The Hoodoo River coho fishery is a typical Alaska summer/fall-run scenario – big, chrome-bright fish in the 8-15 pound range flooding into late-season rivers with cold water temperatures. The fish are aggressive to the fly and screaming hot when hooked, and typically as aggressive to a surface popper as to a weighted streamer fished mid-depth. Floating lines – particularly those with extended, bulky front tapers – are usually all the angler will need here, though sink-tips can be quite effective for those who like to strip streamers. Traditionally- tied flies should be on hook sizes from 4 – 1/0. Egg-Sucking leeches should be full and long, up to 4 inches in length. Flies should be tied full with lots of flash in varying colors and color combinations. Don’t be afraid to tie and throw larger flies for these fish, they love ‘em.
- Foam Top Wog – our favorite surface pattern
- Hareball Leeches (fuchsia, bubblegum, orange/chartreuse, pink/orange, purple) – probably the #1 streamer pattern for Hoodoo silvers
- Egg Sucking Leech variations using marabou or rabbit strip in black & purple (add dazzle w/flashabou or crystal flash)
- Popsicle, size 1/0
- Bjorn’s Super Prawn Series (varying color combinations)
- MOAL Leeches, pink/purple
- Sili Leg Intruder #1/0 pink/purple
Important Tackle Note:
Please be aware that Hoodoo River Sport Fishing Adventures is a single, barbless hook ONLY operation. Multiple hook flies or lures are not allowed on the river.
Gratuities are a personal thing based on service rendered. Normally, guides and staff are tipped upon departure in accordance with their individual effort and service. In most cases, we like to leave a gratuity with the camp or lodge owner or manager. A good rule of thumb for figuring an amount to leave is between 10 and 15 percent of the package cost. If you have any questions concerning gratuities, please feel free to call us or ask the lodge manager/owner.
The limiting weight restrictions here are with the charter that you will fly roundtrip between Anchorage and the lodge – they take a maximum of 70 pounds checked baggage, plus a carry-on.
Please pack your gear in a soft-sided duffle bag not weighing more than 70 pounds. NO hockey bags or hard-sided suitcases please.
In the event of an emergency, you should have your office or family first contact
The Fly Shop®:
800-669-3474| 530-222-3555 | E-mail email@example.com
Hoodoo Sport Fishing Anchorage: (907) 346-3983
Hoodoo Sport Fishing (Camp Phone): (907) 989 2200 or (907) 989-2211
Hoodoo Sport Fishing Cold Bay: (907) 532-2797
Phone & Internet Service at the Lodge:
There is phone service at the lodge on the Hoodoo River and you will need a calling card to place calls using the lodge phone. Cell phones will not work. There is limited wireless internet service at the lodge as well, but you will need to bring your own computer. At Sandy River Steelhead Camp there is limited WiFi and anglers will need to pay $2/minute to use their satellite phone (or bring their own satellite phone) if they desire to communicate to the outside world.
Alcohol Served at the Lodge:
The lodge provides complimentary beer and wine with dinner. They also have a limited-stocked bar that includes: Whiskey (typically R&R), Rum (Bacardi), Vodka (Skyy), Tequila (Jose Cuervo), Bourbon (Jim Beam), Gin (Tanqueray), Scotch (Johnny Walker Red Label). Wines on hand are typically: Reds – Cabernet, Merlot. Whites – Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio. If you prefer a special brand of spirits or vintage varietals, please plan on bringing your own.
Electricity at Hoodoo:
The lodge (and Sandy River Steelhead Camp – solar power) has 24/7 power, so no problems for overnight electrical needs such as CPAP machines, etc.
The most convenient way to buy your Alaska Sport Fishing License is online. If you are fishing for king salmon, you will also need to purchase a king stamp.
The lodge does sell fishing licenses; however, we suggest that you please purchase your license in advance of your arrival to the lodge, online, at: http://www.admin.adfg.state.ak.us/license/purchasing.html
Prices Non-Resident AK Sport Fishing License:
- 7 Day Sport Fishing License: $70
- 14 Day Sport Fishing License: $105
- Annual Sport Fishing License: $145
Non-Resident King Salmon Stamp:
- 7 Day Stamp: $45
- 14 Day Stamp: $75
- Annual Stamp: $100
Felt sole boots are not allowed in Alaska. You must bring rubber soled wading boots. The lodge is happy to provide wading shoes to anyone wanting to leave their own at home and save weight and room in their luggage.
Please DO NOT bring studded wading boots. Studded boots are very damaging to the aluminum floats on the floatplane, the walkways, and the lodge’s aluminum boats.
Hoodoo Sport Fishing provides complimentary body soap and shampoo for their guests.
Hoodoo Sport Fishing will provide dry bags for your gear if you choose to take a float trip.
Taking Fish Home:
Anglers are allowed to take home one 30-pound box of salmon (Sockeye, Chum or Coho). Your fish will be filleted, vacuum packed, frozen. and packed in special “Fish Boxes” for your trip home.