Heading to Alaska to fly fish is a quest that pretty much everyone should put on their bucket list. And why not? Alaska is after all, our country’s largest and most-wild state and the experience awaiting you is well worth the investment. Whether in a rented motorhome fishing the Kenai or at some fancy, fly-out lodge buying your solitude, there’s a worthwhile experience for all heading to Alaska to fly fish.
Most visit Alaska during the summer months and there’s good reason, as off-season Alaska is one harsh environment. That’s probably why in a state that’s one-fith the size of the lower 48, Alaska’s population is only about 700,000. During summer, you’ll see nature at full speed, as everything…even humans are making hay while the sun shines.
With limited time on the calendar to reproduce and feed, bugs, bears and fish are focused on feeding and reproducing. It’s the perfect time to visit a land that’s about a hundred years behind the times and have an experience that will create memories that will last a lifetime.
Although there are many Alaskan destinations and fish species worth pursuing with a fly rod, sticking with rainbow trout, dolly varden, grayling and silver salmon will not only keep you happily busy with beautiful hard-fighting fish, but limit the amount of fly fishing gear you’ll need to be successful.
Even when focusing only on rainbow trout, dolly varden and grayling, timing does matter with regard to your fly selection. In the early season, the majority of these fish are skinny and hungry, having made it through a tough winter. They know the short summer is the time to put on some weight. Just about any wooly bugger, egg-sucking leach or even a mouse pattern will get a fish to go.
As the summer season continues and salmon enter the rivers, trout, dollies and grayling follow this salmonid migration to the spawning grounds…awaiting the egg-laden feast. During this time of year, a fly that mimics a salmon egg is a great idea. There’s pretty much a “hatch” occurring…but in eggs. Tie on an egg fly, a split shot or two and make a cast. Oh, and get ready for a big grab.
Nearing the later part of the season, most salmon will be finished spawning. By design, all five Pacific salmon die after reproducing. This insures available nutrients for their young. Talk about dedicated parents. With decaying salmon carcasses littering the rivers, now is a great time to fish a flesh fly. Sounds gross, but this fly mimics a chunk of decaying salmon and will land you some of the fattest fish of the season.
If your fly fishing trip to Alaska is in the later part of the season you might run into the Coho or silver salmon. If you do, you’re in luck. They are very aggressive to the fly and fun to fight. Try a streamer that is flashy and maybe pink or purple…they love that stuff.
If what you’ve read so far sounds intriguing, you’ll be happy to know that you can catch all the fish listed in this article with just one fly fishing outfit. It’s Leland Rod Co.’s Sonoma Coast Fly Fishing Outfit. If you want to know a bit more about this perfect Alaska fly fishing combo, just click here!