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Subscriber A. Michael Pardue makes some interesting observations about flies and other things in his report on a trip to Alaska’s Fishing Unlimited Lodge last August. He writes:
“I have fished at Alaska’s Fishing Unlimited Lodge (907-781-2220 or 262-515-3714; www.alaskalodge.com) several times over the past ten years, mostly going for rainbows and grayling. I resisted fishing for salmon here in the beginning because I have never been particularly interested in catching large fish. That seems to be more work than enjoyment. My attitude about big fish changed several years ago, however, when I agreed to go with the other guests to fi sh for silvers one day. What an experience when my first silver started upstream with numerous jumps! He had me into my backing before I managed to exert some control. Since that day, I have always reserved at least one day here to fish for silvers.
“Mind you, my favorite Alaska fishing is still for rainbows, particularly with dry fl ies. This is not always successful, of course, once the salmon have started to drop their eggs. Why should a rainbow exert himself when all he needs to do is sit on the bottom, open his mouth, and let the eggs roll in? On one of my trips, another guest and I were fl oating a small stream and fishing for grayling and char with dry flies with some success. From time to time, I would hear the sound of water disturbance in the distance, but I could never see what the fish were after. I concluded that whatever was on the surface was black, which was why it was invisible.
“The following year I returned to the lodge earlier in the summer with the intention of fishing black dry flies to see what the outcome would be. One evening, I was asked by one of the guides if I would like to go for rainbows the following morning, and I said yes. He said there would be three of us fishing: a couple from Pennsylvania and me. We had to get up early the next morning, eat an early breakfast, and leave right away because the flight to our destination would take a half hour to 45 minutes.
“When we reached our destination, Martin rigged us to fish on the bottom. None of us did very well, but as I was casting and reeling, I kept hearing the noise from surface takes. I decided to give one of my black flies a try. It worked right away, but with one drawback: it was impossible to see my fl y on the water, which meant I had to lift my rod by the sound of the take. Over the next few hours, I caught a three to four-pound rainbow about every ten minutes or so. A couple of hours later, the woman on the fl y-out with me asked if she could try one of my black flies. She, too, was successful in catching rainbows with it. A few hours later, her husband asked if he could try one of the black flies, and he was as successful as his wife for the remainder of the afternoon. What a day we had catching large rainbows on dry flies! “Later that summer, I returned to the same lodge and the same river to again fish for rainbows. This time, I fished with pink beads and had another day of superb fishing. On this occasion, I happened to look out at a large gravel bar over which the fl owing water was gin-clear and about a foot deep. I soon began to make out dark shadows scattered over the gravel bar. Momentarily, I saw one of the shadows move. It then became apparent that there were 20 or more rainbows holding over that gravel bar, taking eggs as they rolled by. “You can well imagine that I started fishing that gravel bar. What ensued was an incredible afternoon of fishing to specific rainbows, New Zealand–style, most of which were in the two- to three-pound range with an occasional trout twice that size.”
Don Causey Note: Pardue does not give the cost of his many trips with Alaska’s Fishing Unlimited Lodge. He does recommend the place, however. As for the techniques he suggests here, additional comment is welcome. Write [email protected].