How to land a large King

Has anyone had any experience in landing a big King or Silver from a kayak? I am toying with the idea of salmon fishing in a local river come September. I am wondering if the large nets commonly used from larger boats would be to cumbersome to include as part of my set-up. Should I use some sort of gaff?

Big nets and kayaks don’t go together,
not too good on canoes either. Storage and handling is iffy at best, even with the folding type. Take a

look at Boga grips or their less expensive cousing made by Rapala. Berkely makes several sizes also, but the Boga is the best and, if I couldn’t afford a Boga, I think I’d go with the Rapala, not that I can even afford the Berkely. If you get one, be sure to put a big float on it so it doesn’t wind up on the bottom of the river or lake.

The Rapala at Cabela’s:

The Boga at Cabela’s"=:;jsessionid=2AOKF1WP0H41RTQSNOKCCO4OCJVZOIWE?id=0018687&type=pod&rid=0180101070502&cmCat=perf&cm_ven=Performics&cm_cat=Google&cm_pla=freshfish_tackle&cm_ite=boga%20grip&_requestid=70817

I’ve used a net on yak caught salmon

– Last Updated: Jun-27-06 11:26 PM EST –

but like Jer says, it is a little cumbersome. My biggest in a yak so far is 16 lbs. I got my idea for a net from a guy who fished salmon from a big surfboard. He and I both take a net smaller than the biggest ones for salmon, and cut down the handle. The handle on my salmon net is 18 inches from butt to inside the hoop yoke, and is fixed rather than the type where the handle has a button release that allows it to slide across the hoop. The hoop on my net is 22 inches by 27 inches, oval with a flat end.

That net is OK for silvers (coho) and chinook (kings, springs, blackmouth) up to 25 or maybe even 30 lbs or so. I have caught them up to 64 lbs. and know I would be in trouble with a 40 lbs. or bigger salmon but where I fish from the yak, a 30 pounder isn't common. Let the size of your likely fish guide you. The biggest nets, for big kings, are really big to imagine on a yak.

I secure the net with a 4 foot lanyard looped around the net hoop and handle at the base of the handle, clipped to front deck bungees with a carabiner clip. The net lays on the front of the deck, ahead of my wooden fishing gear box. The handle points my way, the end resting on top of the low walled box and within reach if I lean ahead a bit.

The netting is draped around the hoop before I lay it down, with a technique like winding spaghetti on a fork. The net hoop is wider than the yak deck where it lies on the bow, but balances there and that has never given me trouble. I lay rods on top of it, never with a hook where it could catch in the netting, and have never had trouble other than a momentary loop around a guide which shakes loose.

If you use a long rod, then you may risk breaking the rod if you pull the rod tip way back above you trying to lead a fish into the net. Just be aware of the angle of your rod and the amount of bend in it. I saw a guy break a rod that way as he beached a salmon last Fall, looking at the salmon as he reached for it and bending the rod back to pull the salmon to himself. When the rod was pointing way back past vertical with the tip near his ear, the graphite rod snapped.

I also have a fish bonker club attached by lanyard to calm a thrashing salmon once he's in the net.

I also have a gaff about two feet long on board but have never used it and am considering more and more that I won't take it anymore. I'm a little concerned about holes in me and the boat with a thrashing salmon and I'd hate to injure the fish badly and still have it thrash off of the gaff and get away to die.

Just reread your post and caught that you plan to fish a river. On rivers, I have used the yak to get to good fishing bars, drifitng and paddling downstream from good spot to good spot, where I get out to fish from shore or wade. I have not tried very much to fish them from the yak in a river. Currents, snags, etc. add a lot of unpredictables. A big river like the Columbia or Fraser would be closer to open salt water tidal current.

Has anyone used the Boga gripper on salm
on salmon? It is an interesting way to go all right. Salmon dart around, very quick, even the big ones quite active unless you play them out till they lay on their side. We usually net them well before they get that tired. In my memory (haven’t fished for them this year yet) they don’t open their mouths like bass when you are landing them. I just wonder how easy or hard it is to insert the Boga into a salmon’s mouth. Am genuinely curious if anyone has done it, not just with large fish but with king salmon in particular. That could be far handier than a net.

I’ve watched Mike Sosin on his TV show
take up to 60 lb tarpon with a boga, don’t know about salmon. Not being from the Northwest, don’t know much about them, are the big kings and other salmon caught in the rivers spawning run fish and likely to die anyway?

Most of the salmon caught are on their
way to spawn, even the ones in salt water. They die after they spawn, but a lot of people release them so that they can reproduce a lot of new salmon.

Most of the salmon caught from inshore salt water are on their way to a river not too far distant. A few will be local fish that live near the mouth of their river for two or four years until they return to spawn.

The ones in the rivers are definitely spawners. When they first enter the river they are as silver as ocean fish (exceptions are dark ones that will spawn soon, near the rivger mouth). Most that I catch within the first 40-50 miles of river still have sea lice on them, indicating that they have been in the freshwater river no more than a day, 24 hours or a little longer.

Farther up the river, closer to where they spawn, they morph into hook jawed toothy monsters with garish red and green colors.The closer they are to spawning, the less prized to eat, until they become horrid flaccid hulks covered with scars and fungus, spawned out living dead, facing upstream but too weak to overcome the current as they drift back to die.

I’ve never caught a tarpon but they have a big mouth somewhat like a bass and it always seems to be open in photos of them jumping etc. I’d guess it is easier to get the gripper in their mouth but it is pure guess as I haven’t tried it. I plan to ask a tackle store about it, a place that specializes in salmon.

Also, on a really big salmon, the jaw will split if you try to hold up the full weight of the fish by inserting a finger (or hand on the big ones) into the gills with the weight on the apex of the jaw.

Get a Collapsible Net
You are about to have some serious fun. My first kayak fishing experience was fishing for some Kings in Platte Bay in Lake Michigan last fall. Caught an 18 pounder that took me on a ride around the bay before we netted it.

We used a collapsible net like the one on this link.

I wouldn’t try to land big Kings with anything else; they are way too active, in my opinion.

We need a first hand Boga salmon
I asked a saleman at a big fishing store about using the Boga or Rapala gripper on salmon and though he sells them, he didn’t reccomend it for salmon. He had not tried it on salmon but thought it would be a lot more trouble than a net from his experience landing big salmon.

Still no direct personal experience however. So, who among us will buy a Boga or similar item and try it on several salmon?

I went to Cabelas and bought
one of these devices for gripping the mouth. The salmon don’t come in until around late September in my neck of the woods so I will try it then. I will be fishing out in the bay and possibly the ocean in August from a 15 foot sled though and I will try it out then. I am concerned about the statement that the fish don’t open their mouths though. That will be a problem.

Okanogan has it right
Dont let the salmon tow you around expecially in a river. I lost the first 3 I hooked to snags before I learned not to let them tow me around. A 30 lb salmon can tow you for an hour or more if you let it. Use the kayak to load the fish and make it work. At least a 45 degree angle off the bow. Beach it if you can. Watch out for the rectal orfaces in cruisers as they think they own the river. I lost a really good fish to one but it cost him. The game warden was watching me fight the fish and gave him a ticket.

Sure would like to try a mouth gripper
Since I last posted on this I’ve landed somewhere near 35 salmon, mostly by beaching them, with a few of those released while in the water. If the Boga device doesn’t hurt the fish, I would try it on salmon that I want to release anyway. The other day I foul hooked one about 32 lbs. and released it in calf deep water to minimize injury (I was wading on a gravel bar reached by yak). Trouble was I tired the fish more than intended before I could get the hook out as it was still very active. It wouldn’t have hurt anything to have tried a Boga and I think it would have helped on that fish. Other wise, I’m still on the skeptical side about landing salmon with one of the devices and sure hope redleg or somone gives us a report.

These recent salmon have been mostly sockeye and a few Chinook. I followed a 28 lb. Chinook in the boat and when it tired, landed on a gravel bar island, finished the fight and dragged it onto the low slope pebble beach. Had a net but it was on the small side for a fish that big so opted not even to attempt to net it. With a full size salmon net, the fight would have been considerably shorter as the fish was nettable in mid river, several minutes before I landed it on the gravel bar.

I got frustrated with commecial nets.
The either are too small for fish much above 6 or 7 pounds, or the handles are too long for my kayak. So, I’ve made my own. My need isn’t for a net that will handel a 35 pound fish, though I’m looking forward to landing a 15 or 20 pound catfish soon. I’ve already gotten near 10 lbs, so, hopefully, its just a matter of time. So, frustrated with commecial nets, I made my own. Its very simple, I just took a 24" replacement net, a length of hot water 1/2" pvc pipe…its more flexible than cold water pvc…, fed the replacement net onto the pvc, bending the pipe into a curve, and finally closing the ends. Temporarily, I’ve just whip lashed the ends of the pvc in an overlap to close the circle. As I test it out an adjust it, I’ll glue one end pipe into a T joint, attach a very short handle, and, using a bolt and stop nut, screw the other end into the joint so the net can be replaced.

I’ve used the net on a couple of catfish so far, none over 4 lbs, as size I don’t really need a net to handle. It worked well. For my prototype, I’ve also slid short sections of pool noodle onto the pvc to create a floating net. The net also serves as a live well for catfish up to about 4 lbs. My first try with it as live well meant that the fish lived 7 hours with no discloration, and was swimming vigorously in the net, that is, until he met the blade of my filet knife.

Had I the money, I would buy a a soft rubber-type material replacement net, $22 at Bass Pro Shop. If one can apply heat to the pvc for bending purposes, using maybe large diameter pipe, a good net for larger fish could be built.

West Coast salmon nets are bigger
jerlfletcher, interesting way to go to build a net of a size and shape that fits what you want.

Wish you could try a salmon net from any number of sporting good stores in Seattle or Alsaka. They are BIG. I couldn’t find any to link to on the internet but my conservative guess is that the hoop on larger ones will measure at least 33" wide by 44" and probably bigger than that. The net bag is huge and in Alaska, the locals cut the bottom open and lash on another net to make it extra deep for whopper kings on the Kenai. Cabela’s didn’t offer anything like that, so they probably aren’t cost effective to ship. Many have a long handle with a spring loaded button release that telescopes across the net hoop to reduce the size until needed.

Good luck on a big catfish. We had a super salmon run this year so far.

I’m considering cutting the bottom out
and attaching another to mine, thought about that when I was making it. I’m also thinking I may take another replacement net to the top…cut the bottom out, tie it into the other net, and use a drawstring to close it at least partly when I have fish in it for keeping. I don’t like stringers in hot weather, the fish don’t do well and the tight mesh fish bags used by saltwater wadefishermen are no good for catfish.

The huge nets you describe sound interesting. I’ve seen hoop nets used to bring fish up to the commercial fishing piers along the gulf and they are about 35" in diameter. But they are round, the hoop is steel rod about 1/8", and have three cords attached teepee style to the hoop to which a rope is attached for lowering and retrieving the net.

When I saw you talking about Kings
I thought you might be talking about king mackerel, which I do have experience landing in a kayak. I’ve landed some big ones, also dealt with some big sharks, so I imagine that some of the principles for big salmon would be the same. I would go with jerl’s suggestions, the boga, the lip gripper, etc.

Gaff, all the way
I’ve never been able to keep a net on board that was big and strong enough to handle a salmon that big, so I’ve stuck with a gaff. I keep my 2-foot gaff handle in the rear bungies and pull it out when necessary. However, whenever possible, I have beached and landed the fish on foot.

When necessary, I’ve landed larger fish (pike, kings, coho, steelhead) from the water by placing the rod in a homemade rod holder, gaffing the fish, and leaning back with both arms. The fish ends up in my lap (small cockpit), but it’s landed, and I am not playing around with a net, mesh, or net handle.

Again, the best way would really be to land it on foot, but that’s not always possible when you are farther from shore, there is no feasible landing area, or the size of the fish has destroyed my remaining senses.

sorry it took so
long to reply Okanagon, but as you are probably aware the rains have not come in yet and the silvers are all bunching up on the coast waiting for a freshette? to make their runs. So I have not been able to try out the Boca grip yet. I have also been busy with the muzzleloader elk season that just ended. Hope to have a report for yuo by the end of the year. Sounds like you aren’t lacking fish in your neck of the woods.