Alaska is a special place, there’s no arguing that. And for a fly fisherman it is paradise. Between having thick runs of 5 species of pacific salmon that will willingly take a fly on the swing, the strip or even on the surface, it is also home to trout fishing that is truly epic.
Incredible or not, sometimes you just need to get away and look for some new water. Anyone who has spent time bushwhacking and exploring for fish knows that often times it can end up being more trouble than it was worth, or even a flat out bust. But when you find yourself somewhere that has no footprints, no trails, and fish that have never seen a fly… well it’s self explanatory. Which pretty much sums up the last outing with my close friend Abe.
After a few hours of hiking and being absolutely destroyed by the merciless Alaskan bugs (forgetting your deet is never a good move) we arrived at some of the most rewarding water you could ever ask for. Gorgeous gin clear pools and runs dotted with endless logjams for trout to tuck into.
I quickly tied on a mouse and tossed it at the bank and it didn’t swing more than 3 feet before being inhaled by a trout. Every half decent log jam had a handful of fish ready and willing to attack a piece of foam and fur skating across the surface. From watching Abe early set and miss three fish in three casts, to landing his first trout on a mouse. I couldn’t have asked for more fun. The trash talk, high fives and cheap beer were just a bonus. We didn’t have the time to fish for very long, but it was a day on the water I will certainly be remembering.
There’s plenty of different techniques and approaches for throwing a rodent attached to a hook and everyone probably has their preference depending on the water type. Personally I prefer the standard down and across, letting it skate across the water, once or twice per swing adding a small pop or twitch in the fly causing it to splash a tiny bit of water. I have also had good success casting upstream against slow groggy banks and lightly stripping downstream. I have even had high success mousing water that looks less than mousey. Shallow, fast and riddled with rocks and small boulders. The water moves quick enough to cause my mouse to swim across the current about 50 mph, eliminating the standard option. That has led me to fishing my mouse in a strange fashion, working about 25ft of line out and dangling it directly downstream of me as I slowly walk down the river. Zigzagging and swimming my mouse up to and around the boulders and in and out of pockets and seams. Is it natural? Probably not. Does it catch plenty of fish? Of course, let’s not forget Alaskan rainbows we’re talking about here. I have seen them blow up on an apple core that has fallen into the river.
So next time (or the first time) you make it up to the 49th state, don’t hesitate to tie on a fuzzy little mammal.