By Stacey Sutherlin
When I hear the word flossing, I instantly think about my next dentist appointment and wonder if I am flossing enough. The term flossing for this read has a whole new meaning.
Flossing is a term used when fishing for reds, also known as sockeye salmon. Reds are not aggressive biters, so the common method of catching or fishing for them is called “flossing”. It is said that these salmon are one of Alaska’s most popular salmon. Like the world famous Kenai River, the Russian River is famous for its fishing, especially for salmon. There are two runs of sockeye salmon each year, mid-June and mid-July.
One of the most popular places on the Kenai Peninsula where you’ll find fishermen of all backgrounds flossing for sockeye salmon is the famous and popular Russian River. The Russian River flows 13 miles northward from the Upper Russian Lake located in the Kenai Mountains through Lower Russian Lake, and then draining into the Kenai River at the popular destination town of Cooper Landing. The Russian River flows into the Upper Kenai River approximately 7 miles below Kenai Lake.
There is no direct road access to the Russian River. However, it can be accessed either by hiking in from several parking lots in the Russian River Campground or by the Russian River ferry that crosses the Kenai River. The ferry takes fishermen to the mouth of the Russian, called the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers. This is one of the most popular drive-to salmon fishing destinations. It is an easy walk-and-wade fishery so you don’t have to take the ferry and worry about the fees associated.
Most anglers use fly rods, however a bait caster can be used. Whatever method you use, it’s important to know that the hook must be a fly. The most popular and standard fly to use is the Russian River Fly. Reds tend to swim very close to the shore in medium swift currents and slowdown in quicker currents. Most fishermen fish from the river bank or wade in about knee deep when flossing.
The flossing technique is actually quite simple. You want to have about 15-20 feet of line out that you can “flip” out into the river. Standing with your front side facing downstream and with your rod in hand, flip your line as far out as it will go to your 10 o’ clock position which is upstream from where you are standing. With your line taut, let the weight hit the bottom and bounce naturally downstream with the pace of the current to your 2 o’clock position, rip the rod back and repeat. Keep the tip of your rod low and close to water as your line moves downstream.
The idea of flossing is that if you lay your line low in the water, the salmon will pick up the line in their mouth. Sockeye swim upstream with their mouths open so when you rip your rod back it “sets the hook” by hooking it into the corner of the sockeye’s mouth. Weight is a huge factor when it comes to flossing.
This may need adjusted depending on the water depth and flow of the river. You want to have enough weight on your set up to bounce off the bottom so your line and hook move along the bottom of the river with the current. Leader length should be adjusted depending on depth and how wide the river is.
Quicker than you think, you’ll have a fish on!
When flossing for reds, there are certain tackle restrictions which include hook size. Only reds that are hooked in the mouth may be retained. If you hook one in their body by snagging it, it must be released back into the river. Be sure to stay up to date with the current ADF&G regulations and any emergency orders that may be in place. https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/
You can also take this technique, flossing, to the world famous Kenai River and the popular Kasilof River.
Now that you’ve got the technique down, are you ready to floss?