Alaska Fly Fishing

trout fishing in October it's the hunt

for the big fish that's a hog heir but

you're not gonna look at big number days

you're looking more for fish that you

don't find anywhere else

rivers that we normally fish the big

three which I would call probably the

gwee check the Naknek and the Kenai

probably harbors some of the largest

trout in the state they've got these

large lake systems and those particular

lakes the fish have a needle home just

like a steelhead would in the ocean look

down the fish Mike those fish have been

feeding the entire fall and you're in

that hunt for a big fish that's the time

I like to be there the later it is the

better I like it

I was at a point in life where I was

ready for a change

fishing was my passion I wanted to try

to share my passion and help others and

fly shop seemed like a fun logical way

to go about doing that well you've been

facing yeah having the opportunity to

help people get out and enjoy the

outdoors and go fishing seeing people

succeed and their smiles when they come

back in there's a lot to be said for how

that makes a guy feel the diameter

should be greater than 60% of the

diameter of the tip of your fly line you

know I first met Tony just shortly after

I bought the shop so I never dropped

more than five pounds or five

thousandths between steps I do schools

with Mike at the shop we do educational

programs for the clients in the shop

these are great this is a really good

book it's kind of like an old Chris

Patten style book everywhere to go what

Mike and I look at community as a whole

in our local area basically as an

education think tank and as loose hand

as Liz

hits from behind the line drop it

there's a lot of times that you have

stumbling blocks in your game and you

don't understand that how something so

small can trip you up that once you have

somebody show you and actually explain

it to you you go wow I can't believe

that really tripped me up see I'm

finishing the line I'm actually

shortening the line here


tony is a very educated angler he's a

very technical very good flight tire

very good caster he's a lot of fun to be

around I'm gonna pull that down nine

feet three two one three Mike can you

hand me a big fly over there

we both love educating teaching but also

learning you're always learning the

knowledge is always expanding there's so

many things that fishing offers you and

Alaska has it all really we have so much

stuff here that hasn't been explored and

I got up to about 60 to 70 rivers and I

realized that I didn't have enough time

in this lifetime to do them all there is

it just makes it a challenge and that's

the beauty of being located here is that

I have accessed a lot of territory and a

lot of rivers


I've gotten to the point now in my life

where I want to fish with people of like

mind when I'm fishing with Mike we

always seem to meet in the middle

it makes it enjoyable to hang out with a

guy that speaks the same language all

the reports here laid is black is the

fly to have so I think we got plenty of

black to choose from Mike and I are

gonna be fishing on the Naknek River

it's in southwest Alaska I've got three

Spade rods in this tube here getting

ready for a trip like this it's exciting

this is a variation of an Al Green

I'm usually tying flies last-minute

trying to come up with something that

just is gonna be the one instead having

a black body we got a purple body Mike

and I are going to be flying from

Anchorage to king salmon going out to

see Bristol Bay Alaska it's super

exciting to go on trips like this


we get off the plane for some reason I

thought we had two dogs on the plane but

actually they were two seals that have

been rehabilitated I mean I've seen lots

of seals in my life in Alaska I've never

seen two seals in dog crates we're going

to go to a lodge that allows us access

come October time frame the majority of

the Outfitters are already done for the

year so going to a lodge is really your

only real way of getting on the water to

fish it already

our guide cui check

he's a local he's born and raised here

so I'm real excited about spending some

days on the river with him

I'm qui Jacqueline born and raised here

in King Salmon Alaska thank you sir

welcome time for that big one no Dover

the big one all right my cue Tony you

know they're well experienced fishermen

so a lot of its just laying the ground

up for the Naknek kind of tell them oh

there's a good drop here you kind of

deepens up here just kind of sitting

back and let them do their thing you

know we really relied on qui Jack to

just kind of get a feel for the river

there was a certain spot in the river

that normally we would on a fish we

relied on qui Jack said hey we should

probably try this because we knew the

fish were moving further down Tony took

the inside edge and then I coming in

behind him I started to wade out further

once I got into where I was starting to

swing that fly down into these little

pocket buckets that's when I stuck the

first fish


once I got into where I was starting to

swing that fly down into these little

pocket buckets that were laying out

there that's when I stuck the first fish

oh that's what we're looking for Mike

had the right angle on him he was right

set up perfectly for those fish it's not

fish Mike I mean I kind of stayed moving

out and on that line targeting those

colored water changes what do you say

I'm gonna go 20 eat I was gonna say 27

in this particular situation you really

can't overweight because the fish were

really far out nice job

pretty much the longest cast that you

can make and that was the area that if

we got the fly in the box so to speak

and had some success yeah I'm reading

the water and I'm targeting areas where

I think fish are gonna be laying that's

pretty exciting especially when it pans


on ahead


what I'm targeting these fall rainbows I

tend to target them with flesh flies

with sculpins and leech patterns what

I'm tying it's kind of a variation of a

Willie Nelson which is a lychee pattern

we call these flies leeches up here what

we're really mimicking or lampreys

catching a fish on your own pattern it's

pretty exciting to know that you created

something that tricked them faking them

out making them think that it's

something it's really not it's pretty

hard to find much more gratification

knowing you were able to do that when I

tie these flies for the Naknek I don't

want a really long tail pass that hook

those fish are known to come up from

behind a lot if I get that tail too long

and get short strikes and I miss


the Flies are an important thing but how

you fish the flies and where you fishing

is as important is just having the right


someone told me years ago that every

River in Alaska that goes to the ocean

has lampreys and you grew up here right

oh yeah

you guys seen lots of lampreys right

yeah and this is basically a lamprey

imitation yep

McGarrett seem to swim oh yeah they go

like this they're like a little snake so

if we can get this fly to do that I

think that's the ticket you know you got

to put a little right action on it so

the spot it has a lot of brush behind us

and there's these big rocks so every

time you put your foot on it your ankle

wants to roll I walked and fish the

whole top spot but down towards the

bottom setting up the right cast for

that particular spot it was crucially

important will day too far in I get out

here then I may not be able to get back

so I'm gonna be right out on that edge

there kind of weighing my odds here I

think I can reach it the challenge is is

that you can't cast six times over that

same spot and expect to pull the fish

especially if they're bad cast so after

two casts I finally got the cast that I


there he is there's the fish that was

exactly what we Jack said that there

should be a fish there yeah fish of a

thousand cast for sure that's a nice one


that's what we're talking about yeah

this fish has a fairly prominent

red stripe a little different than a lot

of the Naknek fish which are really

steelhead life so it's probably been in

the river for a while

it's colored up has some nice spots on

the table really clean fish


so we went down to a spa we had fish a

day before we knew that there was fish

the day before we decided let's go back

down and let's go with that again

there we go there we go we stick one yep

he's way down there I knew there was one

in there I just knew it

someone sent him my backing

the beauty of the rainbow sphere is that

they're so wild they're strong they're

vibrant nice little fatty

you think of this really adaptive animal

it almost blends a mystique to it


trout fishing in Alaska it's a magical

experience for a child fishermen

there we go there it is

that one Mikey


you can catch more fish than you'd ever

dream of and you're gonna catch fish

much bigger than you may dream are you

ready tone yeah




that's a hog era but look at that beauty

oh god I'm telling you this wild Alaskan

rainbow is really a unique fish yeah the

fact that it's a strong fighting outlier

I'm calling him 30 on the nose that

right on the nose beautiful so you have

Naknek fish PreCheck fish upward to

Larrick Lord to Larrick Copper River

they're all unique but all the same

that's really the interesting thing

about these trout


you have all this diversity within this

one species


the biggest reason that I like to use a

two-handed rod on a trip like this is

we're fishing big water it allows you to

cover a lot more area get into tighter

positions it makes you a little more


the brushstroke that you're trying to

make is the brush stroke of the perfect

cast setting the cast up properly

executing the cast getting the fly the

leader to turn over to where you think

the fish is going to be with a fly that

you've selected and tied but that all

comes together it's satisfying it it

doesn't have to be the biggest fish so

that's the satisfying thing as an angler

for me


spade casting to me is a very artful

very enjoyable style of casting I've had

days where the fishin is pretty slow and

I just find myself working on casting

one of the important things with Skagit

casting or Spey casting or whether it's

candy or any of the hybrid forms is

water tension most the casts that we're

doing on this river are sustained anchor

cast that means that the fly is dug in

and with creating load in the rod

through water tension one of the things

this good casts catch fish you've got to

be patient

you've got to present the fly properly


king salmon is one of a number of very

small villages that are spread around

Bristol Bay and we have around 175 all

year round residents and one of the

things I saw when I first came out to

Bristol Bay was a real lack of Alaskans

involved in the guide industry

pretty much 100% of these kids started

commercial fishing before they ever

started sport fishing because that was

how their family made their money my

whole family still commercial fishes I I

grew up commercial fishing until I

graduated high school they weren't

included in a huge faction of what was

rapidly becoming a very popular sport

fishing destination they actually just

you can see that there see where my

hands are here fishing game and some of

the government agencies have set

parameters of what you need to be a

guide in Alaska but there was really no

training the kids that grow up here do

get into sport fishing but not

necessarily fly-fishing I'm gonna keep

my hands inside the box watch if

somebody doesn't really show you how to

use it it's not as easy to become

immediately effective with equipment and

so I started the guide Academy to share

the knowledge that I already had from my

20-plus years of guiding with a younger

generation that I saw had huge potential

for the sport fishing industry out in

Bristol Bay Nancy set me up with the

right people and I got involved with

what they call the Bristol Bay guide

Academy they captain broke down the

basics of fly fishing as well as

customer service with guess what really

interested me about the whole concept of

iodine is getting out of commercial

fishing I mean it's a tough industry the

guiding Academy has allowed more options

for the youth like myself growing up

here one of the biggest benefits you get

from having guides that are from the

area is they have an intimate knowledge

not just as the area itself but if the

stories behind the area all those

stories go a long way towards enhancing

an experience

the neat thing about meeting young guys

is that they remind me a lot of myself I

normally don't fish with a lot of guys

that are my same age I love the energy

that's more than anything else

energy counts for a lot

so does enthusiasm

day three was a challenge it makes you

start to wonder like man what do we got

to do here just can't believe there's no

fish laying in here after marginal

success we decided to go back to the

other spot that we had fished earlier

there we go there's a piss


that's a toady boy he's thick and he is

huge I pulled a nice fish out of this

spot but it just wasn't producing like

it was

so I told my I want you to try something

new I know it's not in your wheelhouse

we finally decided to go across the

river and swing flies from out of the

boat and then we finally produced the

fish out of there which you don't see a

lot of people swinging two-handed rods

out of boats they paid out for us he did

a little boat assist and Mike caught one

nice fish we called it a day


it was an awesome trip my god we caught

some great big beautiful fish arias fish

were here the weather cooperated

we actually got to do what we wanted to

do and everything kind of came together

I want to be on the edge I want to be on

the new side of the new fishery that's

starting to develop but in Alaska it's

so fast you'll never do it all even

though your body gets older the true

mastery allows you to really become a

craftsman in this endeavor that we call

fly-fishing what's behind him he spoke

now he's going away he got one last shot

to short the game gets better as you get


this way of looking at the river is

reinvigorated me to coming back to some

of these fisheries that now I can

approach them from a different



we'll be back we will be back