The first time you cast a pink streamer -- whether the ubiquitous "humpy hooker", a pink egg-sucking leech, or anything else that's pink -- and hook into an Alaskan pink salmon fresh from the salt, it's exhilarating. Somewhere between there and the hundredth one, you start looking for ways to liven up the game. One way to do so is to head to the top with surface poppers.
When most people think of popper flies, they think of stalking largemouth bass and other warm water species on still water lakes and ponds, not chasing wild Alaskan salmon. But as it turns out, on southeast Alaska's many tidal rivers and creeks, pods of staging or migrating salmon can provide prime opportunities for taking to the surface to entice salmon to your popping, waking or gurgling fly.
There's really not much to it: find a pod of salmon, toss out a popper on a floating line, and pop or twitch it back, leaving only brief pauses in between strips or pops. Deer hair poppers worked particularly well, as did high-floating foam poppers. Aggressive pinks will follow for considerable distances, leaving a can't-miss wake trailing behind, before committing to the fly. Once they do, a series of seemingly drunken slashes ensues, which almost never results in a take on the humpy's first attempt. Never fear, as where there's one slash there's often many more, eventually leading to a hookup. And the game's not limited to pinks. A chum came to hand on top, as did dolly varden and a surprisingly early silver salmon.
It's an incredibly light hearted and stupidly entertaining way of chasing these spectacular fish.