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Thread: New here, first trip to Alaska, lots to ask...

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    Default New here, first trip to Alaska, lots to ask...

    First, thanks to all the current posters for all the information that I have been finding on this forum, through searching and reading I have gotten a ton of great information on flies, lures, and places to go to target certain species, I am very grateful living so far away that I can find this information with such ease.

    About me, live in Denver, CO. Fly fish pretty much weekly at least and year round. C&R almost excusively with barbless/pinched barbs, and consider myself a pretty good fly fisherman overall. Also do some spin and ice fishing on the side. If anyone is in Colorado ever, please feel free to email or message me and I should be able to hook you up with info on just about anywhere for anything that lives here.

    Coming from Denver, CO with my girl (who is a fly fishing fanatic also) and pounding out the details for the trip, looks like basically Aug22 - Sept4, 2009. The plan is either Juneau for a day or two (or the Anchorage area), then make our way to Cordova for a 6 day fishing trip through an outfitter. Then we'll be in the Anchorage area for another 3-4 days.

    The outfitter trip is mostly for silvers and halibut, plus whatever else I can put a hook into on the ocean/beachfronts/river outlets, I'll have a boat and kayaks at my disposal too. So there's my first question, I'll be in one of the bays north of Cordova...

    Anyone have guesses on what I should expect to randomly see fish wise, and good all around flies to use for those?
    Can you catch a ling cod on a fly?
    How far upstream would I have to go to get into trout in the streams/rivers?
    What should be my biggest concern for hiking up wilderness streams from the ocean? Bears? (I am an avid outdoors person so no survival worries or anything like that, always try to be prepared for everything...my back and pack can attest to that!).

    Based on the avilability of dollys, char, bows, and grayling, we might spend our last 3-4 days looking for those near Anchorage, Denali N.P., or Kenai Pen. Anyone have any advice, honey holes (haha you know I kid, but I'll take 'em!), streams, etc. the information would be much appreciated. We will be wade fishing, love seclusion (what fisherperson doesn't?!), and are just looking to catch some nice fish. Also we'd like to avoid the crowds, figure most people are after the salmon and we won't be....so will that be a problem getting away from people? We don't mind hiking at all, being in Colorado we've day hiked 10-18 miles round trip no problem at high elevations. We do not want to fish lakes at all, unless there's some cuttys to get into not too far away, heheh.

    One more thing, Juneau....would it be worth our time to spend an extra day there? We'll be cruising one day and have one day to either stay there and do something, or head on to Anchorage. Is there some really great stream fly fishing in/around Juneau? For what kinds of fish?

    Sorry it's so long winded, I've been saving for years to make this trip happen and can't explain how un-flipping-believably excited I am!!!!!!!!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Anyone have guesses on what I should expect to randomly see fish wise, and good all around flies to use for those?

    Cutts, Dollies, Silvers

    Can you catch a ling cod on a fly?

    Yes get some T 14 put it on some shooting line find a ling hole in <60' of water and tie on a really big fly... Also a fun way to catch rockfish and halibut
    How far upstream would I have to go to get into trout in the streams/rivers?

    Depends on the river usually not far or even in the estuary look for spawning chums

    What should be my biggest concern for hiking up wilderness streams from the ocean? Bears?

    The tide, don't let you boat float away or get beached (if its a big boat) bears are way way less scary than cougars, they won't stalk and hunt you down, make noise keep your head up don't travel alone and you'll be fine



    Based on the avilability of dollys, char, bows, and grayling, we might spend our last 3-4 days looking for those near Anchorage, Denali N.P., or Kenai Pen. Anyone have any advice, honey holes (haha you know I kid, but I'll take 'em!), streams, etc. the information would be much appreciated. We will be wade fishing, love seclusion (what fisherperson doesn't?!), and are just looking to catch some nice fish. Also we'd like to avoid the crowds, figure most people are after the salmon and we won't be....so will that be a problem getting away from people? We don't mind hiking at all, being in Colorado we've day hiked 10-18 miles round trip no problem at high elevations. We do not want to fish lakes at all, unless there's some cuttys to get into not too far away, heheh.

    The farther you hike the less people and the better the fishing... Lake fishing is probably the best trout fishing in SC Alaska mostly rainbows some dollies and kokes around anchorage and kenai. The rivers have good fishing but get a lot more people.

    One more thing, Juneau....would it be worth our time to spend an extra day there? We'll be cruising one day and have one day to either stay there and do something, or head on to Anchorage. Is there some really great stream fly fishing in/around Juneau? For what kinds of fish?

    Late august early september is some of the best dolly fishing of the year down there, some cutts and some silvers will be around plus pinks and chums check out www.juneauflyfishinggoods.com for more info on Juneau fishing


    Good Luck
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Default Grayling-Denali

    Hello Fishnphil and welcome!

    Sounds like a great trip you have planned! I do a lot of fly fishing for grayling on the Denali Highway, and it's excellent! If you get accross the highway, stop by, and I'll point you in the right direction! We have Alpine Creek Lodge at Mile 68. The MaClaren River Lodge also does day guiding for grayling, or you can do it yourself too!

    And don't worry about crowds! I seldom see anyone on the lakes and rivers up in that country!

    Looking forward to seeing you on your trip up.

    Claude
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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    powder_monkey, thanks! Sounds like spending the extra day in Juneau will be worthwhile.
    As for the cod and other ocean fish, I have never even tried to fly fish that deep before, with everything else going on I'll keep it in mind and do some more research on it. I was hoping using big streamers and buggers we'd be able to find and fish flats and islands for whatever bites.
    The tide...already taken into consideration! I'm not a big guy, so no way I can drag a boat across the beach We had planned on using the kayaks to get onshore and carrying them well above the high water line, thanks for the tip though. Cougars, thanks...I was thinking so much about the bears I forgot about them.

    denalihunter, thanks, I'm just wishing I was leaving tomorrow! Most of the streams I have found have been near or off of the denali highway it seems. It also sounds like one of the best places in Alaska wildlife/fishing wise, from what I've read. Would you say our chances of seeing lots of wildlife along the highway is real high? Checked out your lodge, looks like a great place, living the dream if you ask me! Are there many other species than grayling along the highway? I thought in Alaska 30" rainbows were the norm?! If we're in the neighborhood we'll stop in and at least say hello.


    In general, what size tippets/leaders are you using for trout and grayling? I'm used to 6x and #18 flies (even #24 in winter) but I hear go much bigger in AK, would #12-#14 work for caddis, humpies, coachmans, as well as pheasant tails, hares ears and other nypmhs? Streamers/Buggers in size #4-#8 all will work ok? Bigger or smaller? I can't imagine tying up a #12 Any particular egg color(s) work better than others?

    For the silvers I planned on using 12-20lb leaders casting lots and lots of streamers.

    Does Kenai offer much inland fishing? There's a possiblity that we will not be able to make it up to the denali highway and fishing might be limited to a short time from anchorage and/or seward.

    So much to plan, learn, and do!

    Thanks!

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post

    In general, what size tippets/leaders are you using for trout and grayling? I'm used to 6x and #18 flies (even #24 in winter) but I hear go much bigger in AK, would #12-#14 work for caddis, humpies, coachmans, as well as pheasant tails, hares ears and other nypmhs? Streamers/Buggers in size #4-#8 all will work ok? Bigger or smaller? I can't imagine tying up a #12 Any particular egg color(s) work better than others?

    For the silvers I planned on using 12-20lb leaders casting lots and lots of streamers.

    Does Kenai offer much inland fishing? There's a possiblity that we will not be able to make it up to the denali highway and fishing might be limited to a short time from anchorage and/or seward.

    So much to plan, learn, and do!

    Thanks!
    I normally fish 2x flouro or 3x mono maybe 4x if I'm fishing the russian or something really small. For eggs is hard to go wrong with light pink, cream and creamy orange. The bright orange works in some situations as well but not with picky fish.. Picky fisha re tough to get on non beads but it can be done. For cutts looks at bright wet flies, little versions of clasic steelhead flies are fun to fish with also smolt patterns. Dollies will key into eggs or flesh or smolt in the coastal areas. Rainbows in lakes take typical leaches, midges, scuds, etc. In rivers they take beads, nymphs and various buggers. The kenai offers a ton of inland fishing, the kenai river of course but also a ton of lake fishing in the moose river and swanson river drainage. For silvers you got the right idea just make sure the streamers are clousers, flash flies and egg sucking leaches... I'd reccomend checking out Tony Route's books they are very good.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Awesome, thanks for all the info. I'll have to look up those "beads", I have no idea what those are but keep seeing them referred to. After this weekend I should know what area specifically, denali or the kenai penn. we'll spend our last 3-4 days at. 2x-4x, thanks! Wet flies...do you guys use soft hackles at all? I have a pattern that I've never seen anywhere that slays the trout anytime caddis are remotely around. Let me know and I can send you a couple if you want, I can whip them out, they are super easy to tie.

    Around denali highway and park is there much else besides grayling? How big do the whitefish get in AK?

    Does anyone have a place or places that are absolute must see, or must fish? Is the fishing on Kodiak Island any good (how are the crowds out there usually, if anyone fishes it)?

    Planning this trip is like planning a two week long christmas!!!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by FishnPhil View Post
    Awesome, thanks for all the info. I'll have to look up those "beads", I have no idea what those are but keep seeing them referred to. After this weekend I should know what area specifically, denali or the kenai penn. we'll spend our last 3-4 days at. 2x-4x, thanks! Wet flies...do you guys use soft hackles at all? I have a pattern that I've never seen anywhere that slays the trout anytime caddis are remotely around. Let me know and I can send you a couple if you want, I can whip them out, they are super easy to tie.

    Around denali highway and park is there much else besides grayling? How big do the whitefish get in AK?

    Does anyone have a place or places that are absolute must see, or must fish? Is the fishing on Kodiak Island any good (how are the crowds out there usually, if anyone fishes it)?

    Planning this trip is like planning a two week long christmas!!!
    man shoot me an email mccormick.patrick at gmail dot com lets talk about soft hackles...
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Default Parks Highway

    Regardless of which direction you choose to travel (Denali, Homer, Seward, etc.)

    There is an excellent book - buy it, borrow it, check it out from the library... but it is designed with folks such as you in mind; short on time, traveling by car, no guide, want to catch/see some fish.

    Anyway: "The Alaska Highway Angler"

    You can buy it from the AOD store:
    http://www.outdoorsdirectory.com/sto...?products_id=3

    I didn't notice in anyone's post - but keep in mind the trip from Anchorage to the Park entrance is about 4-5 hours at the posted speed limit. So to fish, take pictures, sight see and travel will take all day.
    Anchorage to Seward is about 2 hours driving.
    Anchorage to Coopers Landing (aka Russian River) is about 2-3 hours driving.
    Anchorage to Homer is about 5-6 hours.

    These are all times based off posted speed limits, and take a little into consideration for traffic - although tourist season has dropped down considerably by that time of the year.

    Parks Highway Choices:
    Confluence of Deception Creek and Willow can result in some nice trout.
    Goose creek, about a mile (or less) from the road can give up some nice rainbows.
    Honolulu Creek can result in some nice trout.

    You really can't go wrong; just pick a direction - stick to it, plan it, and have a blast! One direction/location may have more "I MUST SEE IT" for you than another.

    You're sure to have an awesome trip.

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    I went on an afternoon whale watch out of Juneau in the first week of September that was absolutely first rate in every way. The company does the bulk of their business with the cruise lines, but they also take private reservations. PM me for more information if you're interested.

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    Thanks guys! We're still up in the air about the day(s) in Juneau because of the extra cost, we already have Anchorage and Cordova planned so Juneau is an extra. Sounds like we might end up in the anchorage area those two days instead, dang flight prices have been fluctuating big time.

    Stogie...Roadside angler was on the list, I'll put the highway angler on there too.

    Does anyone know what strain of cutthroats are in AK? Are they only in the high country/inland lakes and streams? Out here we have a couple different strains of cuttys, they are, IMO, the most beautiful colored trout:


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    Cutts are not restricted to high mountains in AK , you will find them in lower parts of stream and in estuaries. There are a couple life histories; there are sea-run fish, and there are also resident fish that live in the lake/inlet-outlet stream systems - they can be caught on typical patterns (ESLs or bunnies, fox comets, globugs in season, flashflies), sometimes dries when it gets warm enough (lily pad areas in lakes, midge hatches in estuaries, a rarity for me but it does happen); the largest cutts come from landlocked kokanee systems (e.g., Wilson Lake), also some good size sea-run fish. The fish I have caught have been more silvery than those in your pictures.

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    You will find the coastal cutthroat O. clarki clarki in Alaska, they are usually pretty small a really good one will go 20" mostly in the fall in juneau you find fish in the 8-10 inch range close to town... Anyhow they look like this:




    In the fall in Juneau you are more likely to catch dollies especially behind chums eating eggs. I'm don't know much about cordova but I've heard really good things about cutthroat fishing there.

    What kinda cutts are those? Lahtohans?
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Default Excellent thread...

    Not that you need any more info - great tips in the posts above.

    1. Scott Haugen's book (Flyfisher's Guide to Alaska in the AOD store) is also an excellent reference. Local fly shops can be another good source. And speaking of books, I enjoy Top Water, by Letherman/ Weaver (almost as good as Ak Powder Monkey!) back with you as a momento of your trip, if not before - prob avail in fly shops. Spendy, but beautiful if you love fly fishing.

    2. Headnets. You won't always need 'em, but when you do...

    3. I think spotting wildlife on roadways is luck of the draw, but if you make it to Denali Hwy, seems to me best chances are to the first few vehicles rolling.

    4. Strategy for tough fish/fast current/unwadeable pockets: maybe this is my relative inexperience, but seems like every year, I get into a fish that takes me downstream, where I might encounter deep or otherwise problemmatic wading. Things I use: a wading stick and/or heavier tippet than usual can give an extra margin.

    I'd be interested in Ak Powder Monkey's input, but I find the fish here usually aren't leader shy.

    Have a great trip.

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    Great info guys! Thanks!

    powder monkey, the cutts in my pictures are Greenback Cutthroats (Oncorhynchus clarki stomias). We have a few strains of cutthroats, snake river cutts and colorado river cutts too. One great thing about colorado fly fishing is you can catch just about everything, from largemouth and smallmouth bass, to pike, wiper, carp, rainbows, browns, 3 cutty species, whitefish, very small grayling, and I'm sure I'm leaving a bunch off. Unfortunately most of the cutts here are in high mountain lakes that require hiking. There are very few places they are accessible to everyone which is kind of disappointing, such awesome colored fish.


    Do you guys dead drift more often than stripping for streamers, flesh flies, wooly buggers, and the like?

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    1. Scott Haugen's book (Flyfisher's Guide to Alaska in the AOD store) is also an excellent reference. Local fly shops can be another good source. And speaking of books, I enjoy Top Water, by Letherman/ Weaver (almost as good as Ak Powder Monkey!) back with you as a momento of your trip, if not before - prob avail in fly shops. Spendy, but beautiful if you love fly fishing.

    I'd be interested in Ak Powder Monkey's input, but I find the fish here usually aren't leader shy.
    I'll add to that list of books the late Tony Route's books, Flyfishing Alaska, Flies for Alaska, and Kenai River Journal, I keep all three handy for reference.

    I've seen very few leader shy fish up here, probably the worst ones are the big kenai rainbows that I find myself going down to 4x for, also in some lakes when fishing midges on the the surface you just gotta use 5x or 6x when fishing a size 22 or 24


    anyway there is just about every kind of fishing up here from dredging streamers with a 2 hander to casting a 2 wt to rising grayling to swinging mice, to saltwater fishing to nymphing to whatever.

    With your trip timing you'll be looking at a lot of dead drifting eggs to trout and swinging/stripping streamers to silvers. Also swinging for cutts is my favorite way to catch em in the fall but Ii'm no cutt expert by any means, think back east brookie fishing... A biasic rule of thumb for trout fishing in this state is:
    Spring: Smolt
    June/July: Leaches, sculpins and Dries
    August/September/October: Eggs and Flesh
    October-May(ish): Leaches, sculpins

    I've seen many a fish break the rules though so don't be afraid to try a streamer especially in cordova and juneau some of those sea run dollies remember candlefish pretty well...

    P.S. Anybody work for Alaska Airlines and want to give me a buddy pass so I can get to denver? Carp and Wipers are calling
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Cool, thanks again. hahah heading to Denver?

    The best shot at a wiper on the fly is in spring. I'll be attempting it again this year, last year I didn't get one on the fly I need a fly that imitates a 1/8oz white curly tail jig! That's all they would hit for me. If there weren't so many great trout streams I'd try during the summer a lot more, man those wipers can peel off line fast! And so can the carp all summer long. I'm not an expert on either of those, yet, but I've been trying to learn more in the last two years. Great thing about carp fishing is, no one else targets them. I'm horrible at lake fishing with flies, need to pick up some sinking line to start.

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    I wish I could head to Denver, I got a buddy in Laramie who's got the spring trout fishing down pretty good in the area... Plus if whipers are anything like stripers that'll be a good time... I'd bet they'd hit an articulated bunny fly if they'll hit a curly cue jig... Also they make these things called fly tails to imitate the old curl tail grub
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Default Nice smolt pattern...

    APM - in photo#1. Little weight but sparsely tied - should get down to the fish very well. I like weighted flies for getting down to the fish.

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    no weight, I wish I could get a floating epoxy, that time of the year you wanna be on the surface...
    Deer hair...


    Foam...


    dead drifting floating fly patterns with little twitches is pretty deadly in may...
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Well,looks like Juneau is not going to work out. At first glance flights weren't too bad, but after more research and pricing, the extra leg just doesn't fit into our budget.

    Instead we'll have 2 days around the kenai pennisula, cordova for a week basically, then back to the pennisula area for 4-5 days. We might hit the denali highway but seeing it's a long drive from Anchorage I'm not sure just yet.

    Looks like I'll need to focus on the fishing areas around the pennisula more.

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