Alaska Adventure Journal



1 2   > Next Page
How To Snag A Limit

You’ve just pulled the power back and bow settles into the water, you’ve arrived in a beautiful rock walled bay surrounded by snow covered mountains.  The water is flat and calm, a small stream bubbles into the end of the bay, the sun is shining,  you look down into the emerald green water and can make out details on the bottom 15 feet down.  An eagle is gliding across the bay overhead checking you out.  Your spirits start to fall a little… one has seen a fish yet.  Everyone scans and then….. there…a silvery torpedo completely breaks free of the water, wiggling in the air.  Immediately upon splash down two more break the water.  The whole boat is pointing and yelling, “over there, no, over there“… nudge the power up and ease toward the commotion of fish.  Quickly the rods come out and the snag hooks are attached.  You see a jumper clear the water, rod tip back over your shoulder, finger on the released bail and you start your cast, the release is perfect as you watch your hook flying thru the air pulling yard after yard of line from your reel for what seems to last forever.  Finally the hooks splashes down only 10 ft past the growing ring in the water where the fish reentered the bay, you start your count as you reel up some slack, one thousand one, the anticipation is killing you, one thousand two and then you YANK back as far as you can to your side, all the sudden your rod doubles over, the line goes tight and momentarily you feel like you’ve just hung the bottom, but no……..the rod is wiggling….wildly and the line is zipping sideways, you reel and hold in a tug of war, suddenly the pressure is gone, someone yells “REEL REEL“, the fish is running straight for the boat!  You take up all slack and finally the fish is worn out and beside the boat, ready to net., but there is no one to net it, fish are jumping and flashing past the boat just below the surface all around your boat,  lines are being crossed in an attempt to keep from tangling.  Almost all on the boat are snagged into an ocean fresh sockeye salmon. 

Sound like fun, YOU BET!  We’ve been in this exact situation, many times.  During this same time we’ve seen boats arrive, try and snag fish and  give up unsuccessfully or leave with only one.  What are we doing different, well read on and we’ll share our secrets to success.

So you think YOU are ready to snag some salmon!!??  We love it.  It may be a little controversial to the fishing purist, but it’s legal, FUN and keeps us in smoked salmon all winter.  So go for it and enjoy your bounty.

We almost exclusively snag sockeye (red) salmon only.  Reds are our favorite fish to smoke and they don’t tend to take bait or flies very readily.  They are perfect candidates (victims) for snagging.

First off the only place it is normally legal to snag salmon is in the saltwater in Alaskan waters.  Even then there are some saltwaters that are closed  to snagging.  We ALWAYS refer to the Alaska ADF&G regulation book before fishing any waters.  We keep a separate copy in  every boat and truck.


Ok, so here we go, time to gear up.  We use the same reels we use for trolling and fishing  rockfish.  Experienced confident fisherman on our boat fish with an Abu Garcia 6500 strung with our standard line for all our medium weight rods and reels 30# green Gamefish.  We buy it buy the 1000 Yd reels and change it bi-annually to keep from losing gear due to line failure.  Newer or lower confidence fisherman on our boat fish with Penn 5500SS Spinning reels strung with the same game fish line.

For fishing rods I like a 8’6” HEAVY action rod, this is VERY important.  We don’t have any special brand we use, but a rod like the Ugly Stick 999 from Cabelas’s works well.

Moving on to hooks, I am adamant about using treble hooks with the lead molded into the center of the hook.  In our experience you WON’T catch as many fish on a smaller weight hook.  Insist on full 16 oz hooks.

The next step is critical, you need to have a good file and sharpen all three barbs of your hook until they are so sharp that they will stick to your finger nail.  Even brand new hooks must be sharpened.

Is your tetanus shot up to date??  I hope so, because these hooks rust over time and they are going to be
flinging everywhere.

Seriously though after years of snagging no one on the boat has snagged themselves or any other person on the boat.

Still a couple pieces of equipment necessary for highly successful snagging.  You need polarized sunglasses, even if it’s cloudy.  Not only will these enable you to see the schools of fish swimming by, they will protect your eyes from an errant snag hook approaching your face. 
I can’t overstress the importance of a wide brimmed hat, this will block light making your polarized glasses more effective.  The hat will also protect your ears from getting snagged.

The gearing up is complete it’s time to get some fish.  We watch the Alaska ADFG Fishing Reports to help determine where and if the reds have shown up.  We also check fishermen’s reports on Alaska  Outdoor Journal’s website.   Every year I spend time talking with the ADFG Biologists and query them about opportunities available within there area of **responsibility** .  I find the biologists phone numbers online at the ADFG website.




1 2   > Next Page