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Becoming the "Sultan Of Swing"

on Sunday, 12 April 2015. Posted in Article

3 Tips To Step Up Your Spey Fishing Game

Spey Casting Alaska

Becoming more productive on the water is the goal of nearly every spey angler. Compared to single hand casting techniques, perfecting both the cast and the accompanying drift with a spey rod can be the most technically and mentally difficult challenge any angler can face. During times when fish are stubborn, it is very easy to switch gears back to other proven and familiar methods. This can be especially true when you see other anglers hooking fish all around you. Here are a few tips to step up your spey fishing game and build the confidence to fish productively anytime, anywhere.

Dissect The River....

The best way to dissect a run is by breaking it down into smaller pieces. Experienced anglers know this and understand exactly where their fly begins to actually "fish." Depending on your casting angle and targeted depth, your fly can start to "fish" immediately, or when faced with fast or deep water scenarios, it may reach the targeted zone late into the drift. Divide the river into manageable pieces, and make sure you are covering the entire area thoroughly.

Consistently Adjust....

Because all river situations are not created equally, you cannot rely on one particular spey tip and fly combination to effectively fish all situations. While it may not seem like it, time spent adjusting and not fishing, is usually time well spent. Slow down your progression through the run, always making sure you are confident in the swing speed and depth. If at any time you get the feeling that your fly is not in front of the fish, stop and adjust. During tough times many fish will not go out of their way to strike an imperfect presentation. So, keep your fly in the zone, and find more fish will come to hand.

Fish Every Cast....

The only way to catch fish is by keeping your fly wet. Spey casting aficionado and renowned guide, Kate Taylor, said it perfectly at a recent spey-clave in Anchorage. She told participants that she always makes sure to have her clients fish out every cast. It does not matter if the cast is imperfect, because each cast has the potential to connect you with the fish of a lifetime. When out on the water, spend your time actually fishing, as opposed to working on your cast. If casting perfection is your goal, get out and practice aside from your fishing time. This simple bit of advice has proved its weight in gold time and time again for many anglers. 


Lee Kuepper is professional guide now calling the Kenai River home, spending his time chasing the Kenai's fabled Rainbow Trout on a regular basis. He is a Pro-Ambassador for Loop USA and is a Certified Fly Casting Instructor through the FFF.

 

 

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Finding The Zone

on Monday, 06 April 2015. Posted in Article

Stop thinking too hard and bump up your productivity on the water.

SE Steelhead

I want you to think about the best angler that you know. Better yet, reflect back on a day of fishing where you could do no wrong. A day where you were on fire, and the fish seemingly could not stay away. Can you say specifically what it was that accounted for this stellar performance? Most would attribute it to fly selection, casting ability, or even chalk it up to blind luck. Even if you cannot pinpoint the exact reason, the fact of the matter was, you were in the zone.

What separates the consistently productive anglers from the rest of the river crowd is their innate ability to "get in the zone" as soon as they step into the water. The zone that I am referring to is not related to depth, but rather a mindset. That mental place where you feel like you are swimming right alongside your fly, guiding it to the perfect spot where the fish are holding. All distractions are gone, and all that is left is fishing. Great anglers find themselves mentally relaxed from the first cast to the last, maintaining the confidence that they are always right in front of the fish.

This simple mindset is the tipping point that will take your fishing to the next level. Next time you are out on the water, check your baggage at the door. Leave all the stress and worries of day-to-day life behind, and focus on each cast individually. Better yet, don't focus on anything at all, and just fish.

 

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Why You Need To Chase Alaskan Kings On The Fly This Year

on Monday, 23 March 2015. Posted in Article

Kings are unlike any other salmon out there. Anglers often quickly find out why....

King

As Alaska begins to show signs of the thaw, that little area in the back of fly anglers brains begins to fill with thoughts of spring fishing pursuits. For many, the first target will be chasing the mighty King Salmon.

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Tackling Kings on a fly rod is no simple task, but the rewards continue to attract driven fly anglers back to Alaskan waters year after year. Following a steep learning curve is necessary in order to succeed. Even though the odds may seem against you at first, setting off to land a King on the fly will almost always improve your angling game 1000 fold. Because Kings generally live in deeper, faster waters, the proper use of sink tips and depth control are often the keys to success. Placing the fly perfectly in the strike zone can be difficult, and on tough days, fish will not want to move far to attack the offering. A precise and accurate presentation, adapting the drift multiple times throughout the run, will help the odds tremendously.

The raw power of these chrome freight trains is astounding, and anglers will quickly realize that the King is unlike any other salmon. While other fish may give an exciting, fast paced battle, Kings have a tendency to draw each fight into a knock-down, drag out struggle to simply hold on. There is no gentle touch needed here. Hard side pressure, torqueing the rod into the butt section, is usually the only way to turn these fish around.

Amidst all the trial and tribulation that comes with chasing Kings on the fly, anglers will find rewards in both the fish itself and the hard lessons learned. In the end, nearly every angler who has pursued the mighty King, catches the "fever," returning to Alaska's waters again and again.


 If you would like more information about Alaska's top lodges for chasing Kings on the fly, shoot us an email. We would be happy to assist in setting up your next King Salmon fly fishing adventure.

 

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Fish Stories: A 2014 Alaska Rainbow Trout To Remember

on Monday, 16 March 2015. Posted in Article

The story behind one of the most beautiful Alaska trout of 2014

AC Fish 2

As many of you have probably seen, California fishing guide, Anthony Carruesco, put one the most beautiful trout that we have ever seen to hand last summer. Hovering just below the 3-foot range, AC's fish is a perfect representation of how spectacular Alaska fishing can be.

Fly Out caught up with Anthony to get the low down on that day, and the epic trout that made it so memorable.


 FO: What was the day like leading up to hooking into that monster? What were you doing in AK?

AC: My fiancé, Erika, and I had traveled up to Alaska to attend our good friend, Lee Kuepper's, wedding. To my benefit, Lee just so happens to be a top shelf guide on the Kenai River, and was able to finagle a few days off prior to the wedding to soak us some leisure time on the water with a few of us boys. It was a laid back, beer drinkin' type of day, and I certainly wasn't hard pressed to catch many fish. Just being out there with a good friend that I hadn't seen in over a year, catching up, and enjoying the 70 degree summer weather was the only agenda we had.

Interestingly enough, while we were sitting at the ramp rigging up rods, I decided to pull all the line off of my reel for no real reason in particular. When I got about 10 feet into the backing, I found a knot where the backing had doubled over itself and locked the line from coming out. Kharma......? Maybe Fate......? Looking back now, catching this potential game-stopper would prove to be pretty damn important about four hours later.

FO: How was the fishing?

AC Fish

AC: We'd been pounding the banks with flesh and hitting solid fish pretty consistently all morning. We had put some good two footers to the net and I was happy with that. We were getting towards the end of the float – coming along a big shady bend when the bobber disappeared again.

FO: Did you know it was huge when you hooked it?

AC: Yes. Though honestly, for the first 10 seconds I thought it mayhave been a Sockeye snagged in the butt.

FO: How was the fight?

AC: The initial run was impressive. It shot directly upriver and was quickly into my backing, similar to a coastal Steelhead from back home. Lee was pulling on the sticks hard to try and lessen the distance, but the current in this main flow was strong and it was all he could do to slow us down. I bent the rod to the cork and turned his head back downriver. Fortunately, you don't have to be that tender with 12lb flouro. After some strong, steady head shakes and a few more runs, he rose from the blue water and just hovered near the surface. Lee, not thinking that it was even close to ready yet, was focused on finding a place to eddy out. I looked back at Lee and said "I think he may be ready." You don't expect the fat kids to have that much stamina anyways.

FO: What was the most remarkable thing about that fish?

AC: I was shocked by how flawless the fish was. Not a single scar or blemish on her. Many of the big fish on Alaska's popular waters seem to often have some battle scars from their angling encounters earlier in life. This fish was clean as a whistle. The girth was ridiculous. My arms were sore from holding it out of the water for the few seconds for that "Hero Shot." As I was releasing it, it finally set in how spectacular this fish was. As it eased back into the blue, and the broad shoulders faded away, we all just sat around for a few minutes in quiet awe.

Hands down the biggest trout I've held, and probably will ever hold. As a guide myself, I was just happy to be the one holding the rod that day. Catching a fish like that is a once in a lifetime experience. I feel very fortunate.

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5 Common Traits Of Productive Flies

on Wednesday, 25 February 2015. Posted in Article

Be picky when deciding on which flies get to take a swim. Here's what you want to look for.

ACsteelhead

Whether you are tying your flies, or buying them, there are 5 traits to keep in the forefront of your mind when making decisions on which flies are worthy of getting wet. Patterns that take advantage of each one of these 5 traits are both effective and easy to cast. Here are the top 5 traits that the flies in your box should always have.

Color.
It is important to use colors the fish are interested in. Resident species such as trout and dolly varden generally prefer more natural, earth tone colors. While salmon, on the other hand, are normally willing to chase around bright, vibrant patterns in pinks, purples, and chartruse.

During dirty or high water conditions, you can do especially well using multi-colored, high contrast flies. Black/White, Green/Yellow, and Purple/Pink can all produce during these adverse conditions.

Hook Orientation
The direction that your hook bend is facing should depend on where you are fishing in the water column. A fly fished near the bottom should always have the hook point facing up, as a downward facing hook will snag up and require sharpening more often. You will find this in numerous sculpin patterns, so beware.

Materials and Movement
Choose a material that moves the way you want it to while being fished. In slow to moderate currents, natural materials like rabbit, maribou, and arctic fox have a silky, smooth flow. Other materials such as deer hair, calf tail, and schlappen hackle have stiffer fibers that hold their shape well, even against heavy current.

Castability
Many flies recently have trended towards being very large and bulky. While they may look impressive, they are a burden to cast. Natural materials like rabbit fur provide great movement, but they also absorb a lot of water. This usually makes them heavy and cumbersome to cast. Synthetic materials, like craft fur, not only give a fly good underwater movement, but also make them easy to cast.

Stability
Stability relates to how the fly tracks when underwater. Flies that are unstable tend to roll or flip over when pushed on by the current. Lead eyes are often used in many trout and salmon patterns. If the lead eyes are on the wrong side, the fly will roll to the wrong position. Make sure that your fly tracks the way it is supposed to. It will result in more fish.

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Taking Kids Fishing

on Wednesday, 18 February 2015. Posted in Article, Video

The 49th state is the perfect place to instill a lifetime of outdoor passions.

A while back I was introduced to a video called "My First Fish." While not specifically filmed in Alaska, this video perfectly captures the excitement of introducing a child to fly fishing. Of all my years guiding anglers in Alaska, there are a select number of memories that I can relive by just closing my eyes. A few of them are about very large trout and steelhead, a few are of the epic battles that ensued, but many of them are simply memories of days spent fishing with kids. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, uncles and nephews, and all the combinations in between are among the most vivid fishing memories etched into my brain. 

Alaska is a wild and beautiful place filled with mountains, glaciers, salmon, and bears. This translates into being the perfect location for exposing your kids to the excitement of being outdoors. It will instill a lifetime passion in fishing and create personal bonds that will last forever. Do your kids a favor. Bring them up to one of the last "wild" places we have left and take them fishing. You will never regret it.

Kid Fishing Salmon 2


Lee Kuepper is professional guide now calling the Kenai River home. He is a co-owner of Alaska's Angling Addiction, chasing the Kenai's monster kings and fabled trout on a regular basis. He is also a member of Loop USA's prostaff and a Certified Fly Casting Instructor through the FFF.

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Making Wakes - Catching Silver Salmon On Surface Flies

on Monday, 16 February 2015. Posted in Article, Video

Silver Salmon can be aggressive topwater feeders if you can keep their attention.

pink polly banner

By Lee Kuepper

Found throughout nearly the entire state of Alaska, Silver Salmon (also called Coho Salmon) are hard fighting, eager biting, and acrobatic - making them a very popular sport fish among fly anglers. Not to mention, Silvers in some parts of Alaska push up to around the 20lb mark! And, Coho are generally "fly-friendly". Now, I am not saying that they are always easy and eager biters, but quite often chasing silvers with a fly is just as productive as fishing them with conventional gear. My final pitch for Silver Salmon is that you can coax them to take a top-water fly, and any species that can be caught on the surface will always get the nod from me.

Locations

cohowaterFrom the coastal rainforests of Southeast Alaska, to the waters of Western Alaska, and everywhere in between, the demeanor of the Coho (Silver) Salmon are always the same. They will always choose the path of least resistance, and if they can lazily mill around in "froggy" water, they will. With that in mind, you would be well advised to leave the heavy currents and fast riffles to those not in-the-know.

Now, there is an exception to this general rule in the tide-water areas. When fish are fresh from the ocean they will often enter in massive, sprawling waves that coincide with the incoming tide. As soon as they hit non-tidal water though, they take on the lazy-boy mentality and begin looking for couch water. Weedy sloughs, inside river bends, behind islands, or any other breaks in the main current will usually provide some spectacular Silver Salmon fishing.

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Alaska's Top 3 Trophy Trout Rivers

on Monday, 09 February 2015. Posted in Article

When chasing down your 30 inch rainbow trout, head toward Alaska's "Big 3."

KenaiRainbow1

Each year thousands of anglers board a plane chasing the bounty of 49th state, taking a shot at hooking into the rainbow trout of their dreams. While other foreign destinations such as Russia and Argentina may produce some big fish, there is no doubt that the accessibility and accommodations of our Alaska fisheries, in combination with the wide array of time periods, make Alaska a very easy choice when you decide on where to go to hunt for your Troutzilla.

Similar to other waters throughout the country, Alaska has a benchmark length that is considered the "trophy" designation. In Alaska this mark is usually set at an astounding 30 inches. While there are many factors that come into play when embarking on this quest, the first step to improving your odds is choosing the right river system to target.

The "Big 3" is a term that people use to refer to the top three systems that tend to pump out more monster trout than any others in the state. Topping this list of legendary trout rivers are the Kvichak, Naknek, and the Kenai. While they are not the only rivers systems in the state that hold monster trout, there is no doubt that they produce more gigantic rainbows on a regular basis than any others in the state.

Prime dates on these rivers fill in fast, so anglers heading out would be well advised to call, and book their trip early.

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The Breach - 5 Showings in Alaska

on Friday, 06 February 2015. Posted in Article, Video

Salmon Conservation Film by Mark Titus

When fishing guide/filmmaker Mark Titus learns why wild salmon populations plummeted in his native Pacific Northwest, he embarks on a journey to discover where the fish have gone and what might bring them back. Along the way, Titus unravels a trail of human hubris, historical amnesia and potential tragedy looming in Alaska – all conspiring to end the most sustainable wild food left on the planet.

Alaska Showings & Schedule

• 2/19 – Anchorage – Bear Tooth @ 8 p.m.
• 2/20 – Juneau – Rockwell Ballroom @ 7 p.m.
• 2/21–22 – Ketchikan – New York Café @ TBD (with Bristol Bay Sockeye dinner special)
• 2/24 – Fairbanks – Blue Loon @ 6 p.m.
• 2/26 – Dillingham – Middle School Gym @ 7:30 p.m. (with subsistence food potluck)

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Trout Fishing Adventures In South-Central Alaska

on Tuesday, 03 February 2015. Posted in Article

The Shangri-la of trout fishing, variety, and natural beauty is just a short, easy flight from Anchorage

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South-Central Alaska holds a very special place in my heart. It was where I first cut my teeth guiding in this great state. The waters of the South Central region of Alaska are often under publicized, and overlooked. For the adventurous angler looking to score some great trout fishing, this region of Alaska is a true diamond in the rough.

River drainages such as the Susitna, Yentna and Copper reach far inland towards the towering mountains and glaciers of Denali and Wrangle-St.Elias National Parks. Eventually, they wind their way south, finding their terminus in the salty waters of Cook Inlet or the Gulf of Alaska. The clear, pristine headwaters that feed these massive systems provide some spectacular fishing for a wide variety of species. The trout fishing in particular is uniquely exceptional, perfectly catering to the angler that wants to try a wide variety of fly fishing techniques. Mousing, nymphing, beads, dry flies, smolt, and baitfish imitating methods are all productive ways to fish for the resident leopard rainbow trout of South-Central.

heliphoto2A variety of accommodation styles can be found throughout the region. Comfortable riverside and mountain lodges as well as multi-day remote wilderness float trips are all available to the traveling angler searching for their trout fishing vahalla. Access to many of these rivers is generally floatplane based. After the flight to the main lodge, anglers will then explore the area via jet boat, raft, or even helicopter.

Recently, I contacted a good guide friend of mine, Casper Leffel, to discuss his personal choices regarding fly selection throughout the waters of South-Central Alaska. Casper is a very experienced guide throughout the region. He began his career on Lake Creek, and has since guided on multiple other South-central watersheds including the Talachulitna. Casper is without a doubt a trout addict, and the passion shows in his guiding.

Here are his thoughts regarding fishing the waters of south-central Alaska for trout, and the flies you will want to bring along for your next trip out.

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