Blog - Alaska Fly Out

Fish Stories: A 2014 Alaska Rainbow Trout To Remember

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.

Wading The Flats In Alaska For Lake Trout

A rare opportunity to chase lake trout on the fly in knee-deep water.

A few years ago, a couple buddies hit the road in June, searching for lake trout on the fly. They overheard whispers of a fabled smolt migration that provided anglers an opportunity to successfully fish the flats of interior Alaska lakes. This exodus of baitfish was said to bring the typically deep water oriented Lake Trout, into knee-deep sand flats. During the early hours of the morning you could find them violently attacking any baitfish imitation you could put in front of their face.

Needless to say it was an epic adventure and one they will not soon forget. It is amazing how many opportunities there are to chase fish with a fly rod in this great state, seemingly limited only by your imagination. Get yourself up to Alaska this year and check at least one of them off your "Must Fish List."

Alaska Fly Tying Video: Kuepper's Small Fry

5 minutes of quality tunes and fly tying for your Monday.

There is no better way to break away from the grip of cabin fever than by spending some quality time at the vice with some fresh tunes. Keeping the upcoming spring thaw in mind, this video shows how to tie Kuepper's Small Fry, the perfect imitation for chasing trout during the early season salmon fry migration.

Swing and twitch it near the surface during low light periods in early spring. Focus your concentration on pinch points in the rivers, inside bends, and woody debris. Hold on tight as this little guy is rarely hit lightly.

Here is the list of materials needed:

  • Gamakatsu SC15 Size 10 hook
  • White/Cream Uni-thread
  • Small Holographic Eyes
  • Ice Dub Pearl Red Hue
  • Ice Dub Pearl
  • Ice Dub Minnow Back Shimmer Fringe Chartruese Peacock
  • Thick UV Cured Clear Resin

 

The 3 Most Common Flaws Of Spey Anglers In Alaska

If you are wanting to catch more fish with your spey rod, here is what you need to avoid.

Steelhead Fight

Sweeping the nation faster than "Beiber Fever," spey fishing has taken over the fly fishing community. Every season there seems to be more and more long rods lining the river banks, and with good reason. Simply put, spey fishing is fun. It's fun to cast, fun to learn, offers up some exciting strikes, and is just another effective tool to have out on the water. Effective when used properly, anyways.

The complexities in both casting styles and gear selection that spey anglers need to sort through is mind boggling. Sink tips, versi-tips, scandi lines, skagit lines, long belly, short belly, running lines, and shooting heads are just a few of the choices that clog the mind of the angler, distracting them from fishing effectively. Here are the top three faults that many spey anglers are challenged with.

1. Continue To Fish Only One Type Of Spey Line
Undoubtedly, Skagit lines are extremely versatile. They are a great tool for throwing heavy flies and sink tips effectively, and allow for decent casting even with imperfect technique.

While there are many situations where Skagit lines shine, do not get caught in the mental rut of thinking that it is the best line for all situations. Often in soft or shallow water a sink tip or heavy fly is not necessary. Can you use a Skagit line in these situations? Yes. Is it ideal? Not necessarily. Scandi lines generally suit these water conditions better. The presentation is softer, you can make long distance mends easier, and controlling the swing is simpler.

Fly lines should be seen in the same light as your tool bench. There are tools specifically made to be effective in certain situations. You wouldn't use a hammer to put in a screw, would you? Diversify your line selections, and find yourself putting more tails to hand.

2. Never Adjust Your Cast
Repeating the same cast over and over, without adjustment, is the deadliest of the spey casting sins. Not adjusting your drift is a common flaw amongst beginners and experienced anglers alike. The mental concentration required to make the cast can be overwhelming and distracting, taking focus away from the drift itself. Fishing through a run using only one type of cast is rarely an effective option.

Take a few seconds before you cast and analyze your last drift. Did you feel confident that it was in the zone? What can you change to get it there? Do this after each step downriver, or be doomed to repeat the past. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Don't be an insane angler, be an adaptable one.

3. Always Use A Spey Rod
At one point in time, all anglers are faced with a choice; fish a method that is more effective, or fish the way that you like the most. Sometimes, the desire to fish with a spey rod is overshadowed by the desire to actually catch a fish. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that all river conditions are not created equally. Spey rods are not always the most effective way to catch more fish. If it is success in numbers you are searching for, remember that there is often more than one way to skin a cat.

 


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 fabled rainbow trout on a regular basis. He is also a member of Loop USA's prostaff and a Certified Fly Casting Instructor through the FFF.

 

Fly Fishing For Silver Salmon Without A Rod

Sometimes increasing the difficulty means leaving some critical gear at home.

We are very fortunate to have such spectacular fishing opportunities here in the 49th state. Silver salmon are some of the most acrobatic and hard fighting species swimming in our rivers. Successfully hooking and landing an Alaskan silver salmon without the use of a rod has always been on Lee Kuepper's bucket list. Watch how it turned out.

5 Common Traits Of Productive Flies

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.

Taking Kids Fishing

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.

Making Wakes - Catching Silver Salmon On Surface Flies

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

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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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