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Alaska Fly FishingIt is 3:00 pm and I can’t help but keep glancing at my beat up but functional watch while working my job for the airlines. Will the seconds tick by any slower? Doesn’t father time know the sockeye salmon are running and that I’m itching to hook into one and have a fresh tasty salmon dinner? It will be like this the rest of the summer for me, work hard and play hard and with the exception of some rounds of golf and deer hunting. “play hard” really means fish hard. Early June is a wonderful time on Kodiak Island. The weather warms up, the sun shows up for most of the day and the vegetation turns green giving kodiak’s nickname ‘The Emerarld Isle” some meaning. Most importantly however the first salmon of the year start showing up on the kodiak road system. For me, sockeye salmon are hard to beat. They run hard, jump high and have a flesh that is delicious and nutritious. Some say that their shortcoming is they are very spooky and don’t bite. I know however they will strike a fly and I enjoy the challenge of fooling a wily fish with a fly. It’s finally 3:30 pm and I briskly make by way out of the building and head to my fishing mobile, a 79 Chevy that has seen its fair share of action. Some call it ugly but I call it a fishbummobile. I make the 2 minute drive from the airport to the lake outlet of the Buskin River. The Buskin is one of three rivers on Kodiak Island that have sockeye and can be accessed by road. There are already people targeting some spooked fish right below the no fishing sign that protects fish holding below the weir. The one thing I know about sockeye is when harassed they get lock jaw more than any other salmonid I’ve encountered. So in classic Brandon Jensen style I forgo the temptation to flail away and the easily spotted fish in the slower water surrounded by 4 fisherman and head to a fast chute about 50 yards below. The fish are harder to see here so the liners and snaggers tend to leave it alone. I think of it as if it’s harder for me to see the fish it’s harder for them to see me. I do see one fish porpoise like a miniature whale which gets my hopes up as sockeye that porpoise frequently are more apt to hit you fly. I make a couple swings with my green weenie which like most of my sockeye flies is small and sparse. Nothing and a few different flies later, more nothing. Persistence and stubbornness are important characteristics to have when targeting sockeye salmon and I am as stubborn as they come. I’ve been known to work one single fish for hours on end with multiple flies until the fish either likes the fly or probably and more likely is just pissed at my stubbornness and takes out its anger out on my hook! I decide to try a purple glo bug and increase my split-shot to keep the offering more on the bottom as the fly swings. The fast water tends to lift the fly off the bottom as it tumbles perpendicular to the current. I make a cast quartering downstream and as the fly begins to swing in front of where Ii think there are some fish I decide to use a trick I’ve learned. I pull the fly upstream about 3 feet to make it look like the fly is escaping. Sure enough a fish’s natural instinct kicks in. My line goes taught, I set the hook and like a bat out of hell a 5 pound chrome figure clears the water and then like a runaway freight train heads down river using the fast water to her advantage. Before I know it I am into the backing and headed down river with my heart in my throat. The first salmon of the year always does that to me. I’ve spent all winter waiting for this moment. The moment I hook into a fish, more than anything else, it signals the arrival of summer on Kodiak Island. I work the fish into some slower water and then on to the bank. I ain’t gonna lie, as the I take the hook out of the fish I begin to salivate. I love my sockeye salmon almost as much for their flesh as their fight. More people start to show and I am walking on sunshine. So, instead of staying and trying to get my limit I head on home. On the way home I notice the green foliage, blue skies, high sun in the Alaska sky and sockeye in my cooler. Yes sir, it is summer in the Great Land of Alaska and time for greatness!