USGS Stream Data

Kenai Rvr @ CooperLndg

  • Water Temp: 48.38 ° F
  • Flow: 4610 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 9.53 ft
USGS

Middle Kenai @ Skilak

  • Flow: 9010 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 10.11 ft
USGS

Talkeetna Rvr

  • Water Temp: 50.72 ° F
  • Flow: 7610 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 5.70 ft
USGS

Situk Rvr

  • Water Temp: 57.02 ° F
  • Flow: 440 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 66.43 ft
USGS
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Posts Tagged ‘Alaskan Flies’

Spring Fishing – Plan D: A Friend of a Friend

So it’s mid-April and we’re having an extremely early and warm spring this year. Coupled with a very mild winter, this means that spring fishing is at least 3 weeks early and we are already seeing signs that if we don’t get out soon, the rivers are going to silt up with runoff and high water. Our challenge is that the river boat operator that we usually hire to run our rafts up the river we like to fish in early spring is out of state until May and we don’t have that much time. Lance is saving up vacation time for June when his brother is coming to Alaska, so fishing needs to happen on a weekend. Due to my schedule, I have only one open weekend, the 23rd of April, which is before Rhett at Phantom Charters will be back. What now?

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Spear-It™ Hooks

Confession time; as a fly tyer I have an addiction to hooks.  Not just your “run of the mill” everyday hooks, but to really nice, custom, specialized hooks. Hooks that, like micro-brewed beer, are built for those of us that will spend a little more money for something special.

Cool looking hooks!

Cool looking hooks!

Even when I’m not shopping for hooks, I have to at least seek a glance at the hook rack; which is how I ended up with the new Spear-It™ Sickle Octopus style hooks. And not just a single package of a specific size; but four packages in a range of sizes. I just had to. I couldn’t help myself.

Spear-It Sickle hooks are not designed specifically for fly tying, although they are listed as a fly hook; but rather are designed to be use as a stinger, or trailing hook. Almost any short shanked hook will work as a trailing hook, although most tyers prefer an Octopus style of some sort. If you’re using something stiff to attach your trailing hook, you can position it so that the hook point rides up, with the hopes of minimizing snagging. The problem with a standard Octopus style is that the gape is usually big enough to have the hook point out away from the body a bit. (I’m not talking about offset bends, that’s a whole other design feature.) This new Sickle design seems to have overcome that design flaw. The hook point is in-line with the eye, and the bend is angular instead of a continuous curve. Read the rest of this entry »

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Knik Lake Outing

Finally! We are out on a lake again. Lance & I use to fish lakes all the time. We both have float tubes, and when he lived in Wasilla we’d often spend an evening fishing one of the local lakes. But then life changed; Lance ended up out of state for a few years, my float tube didn’t get unpacked from winter storage the next year (and the next, and the next …), and my fishing life morphed away from float tubing. But this year, we’ve decided to make an effort to get back onto our local lakes. They’re close enough for an evening of fishing; most of the time you can find some action and every once in a while you can get into some really nice fish.

Lance after launch.

Lance after launch.

Knik Lake was our first outing. It was Memorial Day weekend, so we picked Saturday night to minimize the holiday traffic and late afternoon to fish into the twilight hours (as much as we get in late May). We had decided to take our pontoon rafts instead of float tubes. We both were curious about how they would handle on lakes. (Pros & cons below.) Our 3PM start was delayed a bit by Murphy; but we were on the road by 5:30PM. It’s a bit over an hour drive from my house, and it took us about thirty minutes to get prepped and in the water. The sun was low, and orange-red from smoke from the Funny River fire a couple hundred miles away. We still had plenty of light; we just were not going to be able to cover more than one area. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spring Fishing: Wet, Cold, & Fish

Southcentral Alaska has had an amazing spring this year. We had such warm weather earlier in the winter that the snow pack was low. April was filled with sunshine and temperatures much warmer than normal. Breakup was as much evaporation as run off. So when I got word that Rhett at Tri-River Charters had his Phantom boats in the river April 22nd I started looking for the first day possible to go fishing up the Talkeetna River.

I faced a couple of challenges. The last week of April and first weekend in May was out as I had work scheduled; Fishing buddy Lance had had some surgery in mid-April and is on “light” duty until his incisions heal; my brother was out of town for his son’s graduation from college (congratulation DJ); and the weather had been so warm that the river was starting to blow out every afternoon. My window of opportunity was short. I needed a fishing buddy. To my rescue came Jae McKee, a friend I’d known for a while, and we had talked fishing. Jae had guided a bit on the Talkeetna when he was younger and I always wanted to get out with him to learn a bit more about the river. Our schedules matched up on Tuesday, May 6th; and as luck would have it, it was supposed to cloud up and get a bit cooler the first part of that week. I scheduled a 7AM shuttle ride with Rhett, borrowed a second pontoon boat for Jae, and started dreaming of big fish, eating little fry, dancing on the end of my line.

1_TalkeetnaRvr_2014-05_0504We decided to spend Monday night at Jae’s cabin in Talkeetna, saving us from the 4AM alarm clock. We got out of town about 9PM due to a meeting I needed to be at, but noticed that, just as scheduled, the skies were starting to cloud up.

We woke up to wet everything. It had started to rain at some point during the night and although the rain wasn’t heavy, the drizzle was still coming down, and it was very cool.

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Russian River – July 6, 2013

The early run of sockeyes has wound down, and the late run hasn’t started yet.  It’s my favorite time to be on the Russian River. Water levels have dropped over 9″ in the last three weeks, and Lance & I were hoping that there would be some hungry trout in the river now that salmon scraps have gotten slim. We parked in Pink Salmon and, after gearing up, hiked a short time to get into the base of the canyon. RussianRvr_2013-07-06_0010-PanoLance decided to continue testing his Hevi-Bead system; I decided to start with a Helmet-head sculpin tube fly. I also threaded a very small pink bead on the tippet hoping the extra attraction might trigger an instinct. (You know, egg-headed anything.)  We fished through the first two runs and down into the bottom of the canyon where it flattens out. No luck for either of us. Since neither of us have had much luck in the broad flat area right out of the canyon, we decided to hike down to the Powerline Hole and drop in just below a couple of die-hard salmon anglers.

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It’s Fry Time!

 

Fry

For most Alaskan fly fishers spring brings melting snow and thoughts summer fishing, with (hopefully) sunshine and green things growing everywhere.  But some of us have discovered we can have frys with our spring.

Salmon eggs laid last fall have been hatching under the ice, slowly developing into alevins (yoke sac fry). As ice pulls away from the spawning beds, the alevin, having used up their yoke sac, become fry. New fry swim to the surface, gulp some air to fill their air bladder, and begin free swimming and feeding. It’s at this point in their young lives that fry become available to all the other fish that have been on minimum rations through winter.

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Tubular Smolt – Tying instrucions

The Tubular Smolt came from my desire to have a fly that imitated the young fish I grew up seeing in the shallows of lakes. In my younger days we had small Flatfish and Rapalas for our ultra-light spinning rods. Once I started fly fishing I missed that basic minnow shape, and the desire to imitate it never really left the part of my brain that fishes. When I began learning more about bait fish, I kept thinking that there had to be a way to create a pattern that would mimic the head down attitude of a crippled fish. I also reasoned that a pattern that floated head down could be twitched back to horizontal creating an impression of struggling to stay alive. I wasn’t so concerned about movement, there are plenty of flies for that, I was mostly focused on size, color, and shape.

Although I had played with a few different patterns over the years, it was the thermometer probe cover that finally got my creative juices flowing. Here was the shell for an underbody. I knew I wanted to use Mylar tubing as an outer cover; all I had to do is figure out a way to get this long, thin walled tube onto a hook. After a few failed attempts at prototypes I became frustrated in that I just could not come up with a way to create a solid enough union to a hook to tie materials onto and over the tube. So the probe covers sat in my material box for almost a year. Then, while looking at some tube fly materials, I noticed cone heads designed for small tubes. “Tube flies” I thought, (mentally smacking myself on the side of the head) that’s the answer! I had toyed tying tube flies in the past, but being a bit of a traditionalist, I had failed to think past the shanked hook school of design when working on this baitfish imitation.

It took three attempts to create a tube fly that suspended head down, looked like a small fish, and did not have the disadvantage of an extra-long hook shank. The material sizes listed in the instructional PDF are based on getting the fly to suspend with neutral density. I’ve since subsisted foam for the head, for a high floating fly, and I’ve been stuffing the front part of the probe cover with fluorescent glo-bug yarn and/or Everglow fibers. You can alter the length of the body to create a shorter or longer baitfish and color the body to match any local baitfish. It is important that the body (Mylar tubing) be sealed. I’ve used regular epoxy, rod wrapping epoxy, and am currently playing with a couple different UV cured coatings. All seem to have their pros and cons. I use nail polish, especially ones with sparkle, to add color and extra bling to the body. Once you have the basic pattern, variations are endless.

Rainbow that took Tubular Smolt on the Agulawok River

Rainbow that took Tubular Smolt on the Agulawok River

The pattern’s name come from the fact that I now fish areas where salmon smolts are a prime baitfish; and the fly has proven itself on a couple of different river fisheries for rainbows. The interesting point is that I’ve yet to get the chance to fish one in a lake, where the process started years ago. But then, life is still young!

For a PDF of the Tying Instructions for this pattern, go to our Patterns page.

If you have questions or other comments, please feel free to post them here or email me at Rich@2GuysFlyFishing.net.

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Tube Fly Class – AFF Tying Clinic/February 18, 2012

Next Saturday!!! Don’t Miss It!!!

For those of you attending my Tube Tying Class at the February 18th Tying Clinic sponsored by the Alaska Fly Fishers, I have created a page that lists some of the basic tubes and tools available both locally here in Anchorage, and through the web.

Download the pdf at:  Tube Flies – Materials and Sources

Tube flies are just starting to make some inroads into the American fly tying culture, and although they are not a total solution, tube flies have several advantages over traditional hooks in some specific applications. In my opinion, it’s always a good idea to have a couple of different tricks up your sleeve, especially when you are targeting our larger salmon (Kings and Silvers), or those beefy rainbows and char that Alaska is known for.

Long shanked hooks, necessary when creating large bulky patterns, have the disadvantage of creating a lot of leverage once the hook is in the fish’s mouth. The current trend of using stinger hooks is one way of addressing this problem. Truth be told, using a stinger loop off the back of any fly pattern is a great solution to the problem of shank leverage.

However, in some cases stinger loops may not be the most practical solution. Tube flies were based on the concept of keeping the fly away from the fish’s sharp teeth after the hook set. The fly body is designed to disconnect and slide up the leader, allowing the angler to play the fish on a short shanked hook tied directly to the leader. This offers the advantage of not having your fly in shreds after one or two fish.

An additional advantage is that the hook doesn’t have a chance to hinge over during casting and hook itself onto your leader, or in some cases the fly body itself. Using junction tubes, you can control the distance behind the body that the hook is riding; which can be important when the fish are short striking, or nipping at the rear of the fly. The junction tube is flexible, but not enough so that it will hinge back on itself like most stinger loops.

Or, as in the case of most of my fishing with tube flies; I just let the fly slide down to the hook knot. I find that a junction tube isn’t necessary most of the time. Without a junction tube the fly will have a tendency to spin on your leader, something that I hope the fish fish find as tantalizing as I do. (I am a fan of the “If it moves, it’s alive and food.” school of thought.)

Whether you get into tube flies big time or just for a couple of specific uses; spend some time getting familiar with this style of tying.

Tubular Smolt

Rainbow Trout caught on a Tubular Smolt

 

Here’s a sample of a tube specific pattern that is working very well for our meat eating rainbows. The Tubular Smolt will be featured in a new fly pattern book from the Alaska Fly Fishers, most likely to be published later in 2012.

Rich

“Any day on the water is a GREAT day”

 

 

 

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