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Salmon Parr and Smolt for Alaska Fly Fishing: Part 3

This is the third part of my salmon cycle outline for Alaska Fly fishing.  This is not an in depth how to, but rather a sampler to get anglers thinking about ways to approach Alaskan trout throughout the season.

Salmon Parr are available to trout and Dolly Varden somewhere on a year-round basis.  During their first year, the little salmon are called fry.  Those that remain in a river or lake for more than a year are called Parr.  Each salmon species has slightly different requirements.  Sockeye fry typically migrate to lakes and feed on plankton and develop into larger Parr.  Coincidentally, many rainbows and dollies migrate into the lakes for the winter months.  King Salmon typically spend their youth in the main-stem of their natal river.  This makes them a target for larger trout throughout the summer.  Silver salmon behave like Kings their first year, but then often move up smaller tributaries and back waters where they will spend from one to three more years in relative safety.

The most obvious physical trait of salmon Parr are the vertical bars they exhibit called Parr markings.  These markings are important to note when creating streamers meant to imitate them.

Note the wounded (white spots) Parr.  They won’t last long…chomp.

Every spring, an amazing transformation takes place within the juvenile salmon.  The process is called smoltification.  Its a good word to know when one of your buddy’s starts spouting off the Latin name of some stupid bug.

“You see those terns diving? I’m guessing smoltification is in full swing.  The way they are pounding those aggregations suggests I should tumble a cripple off that shelf.”

Smoltificaiton is the internal metabolic process which enables the juvenile parr to adapt from fresh to salt water.  There is some kind of kidney function reverse osmosis thing going on.  At the onset, they become less territorial and begin forming aggregations, grouping themselves by similar size. During smoltification they will lose the dark vertical bars on their sides (Parr marks or river camo) and develop their metallic sheen (open water camouflage).

Salmon SmoltOutgoing smolt migrations generally occur in spring and early summer.  The window tends to get later and more concentrated further north in the salmon’s range.  In large rivers, outgoing smolt can concentrate in balls similar to saltwater baitfish such as herring.  Birds and hungry trout will not miss this opportunity and finding a smolt ball can lead to some very exciting fishing.

While smolt may rest in slower waters, it is important to understand that in the main current, smolt are moving downstream.  A deep swing across the current with a smolt fly pattern (steelhead style) is not the best way to imitate the migration.  Casting up and across and stripping with a downstream angle will be more realistic.  In fast water, it is often best to just drift your pattern as these little fella’s are going with the flow.

Kenai River Alaska June Rainbow

Smoltified Rainbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next Up:  When the Adult Salmon Return

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Here I sit in the depth of winter playing with photos and video of a season rich in fun and fish.  This is the time to celebrate another year gone by and to plan the details for making the next one even better.  It is also a time to face some of the challenges eroding the health of the waters and fisheries that we love.  Take some time to reflect, make plans to spend more time on the waters and I encourage you to dig a little into some of the issues that make our fishing futures uncertain.  Many of us are so busy, we can barely find the time to fish, let alone be crusaders.  Everything helps.  Consider at the very least joining organizations such as TU.  They will help keep you informed of important issues like the Pebble Mine and your dues and donations will add to the positive side of things.

I just paged through the second issue of  The Contemporary Sportsman.  Check out the “Sea-Run Angle” by Jeff Bright for an excellent and eloquent perspective.

Reflection, Celebration, Vigilance

Reflection - Celebration - Vigilance

 

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Sockeye spawn in full swing and the trout and dollies are gorging. Sometimes we excercise them with hard boiled eggs.

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First cast for silvers this year in my favorite hole. Fish on! The Cerwinka boys had a great day with some big rainbows, some chrome silvers and litterally dollies by the ton.

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38 degrees in the morning. T-shirt by 8:30. Sunny, warm and a savage dolly bite. A few nice rainbows. Tony D got a 29″ beauty. Grown men were playing like little boys in a fishing frenzy. Skilak Lake was glass on the west side. Early fall bliss.

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Had a 20+” rainbow launch right in the boat after the hookup. Sockeye are rolling very well. Daily limits and many released. No brown bears on the river yet, but three in my driveway and another peeking in Stacy’s window. Been cool and cloudy, but that means good fishing weather.

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Mystic Fly Rod

Mystic Waters Fly Fishing, Mystic Fly Rod

Dennis Klein of Mystic Rods just sent me an M 693-4 fly rod to demo on the Missouri River.  With the mutual business name of Mystic, it seems like we might have a nice fit and I have been wanting to put one of these rods to the test.  My first impression of the rod on looks alone was very good.

Mystic Rods Handle and Website

I like the handle!

The cork is premium and the handle is very cool with a ported aluminum sleeve over a stylish wood insert.  Functional and good looking. I was also glad to see that it had a fighting butt.  Even on my lighter trout rods, I like the butt for protecting the reel.  My first thought on seeing this rod was streamers.

I set the rod up with a Ross Evolution 3.5 and a brand new Rio LT 6wt line.  The combo balanced very nicely and feels light in the hand and really just makes you want to cast it.  My first day with it on the river was not ideal.  Spring winds were blasting along the rockies and funneling througth the Big Belt Mountains and the Canyon on the Missouri River below Craig, Montana.  Despite gusts exceeding 50mph (I’m not kidding, I almost lost my boat), I managed to work some side arm casts to a juicy seam and hook some of the MO’s nice rainbows.  The rod performed very well despite the presentation taper line and extreme conditions.  Mystic seems to have something with the 9′ 3″ length.  I will report again after I get a chance to fish the rod in fairer conditions.  I am hoping to fish the LT line with some dries and then I am going to load the reel with a heavier taper and try the rod with streamers.

Check out the Mystic Outdoors website for the full line up of rods and reels.

Dennis Klein
Mystic Rods & Willow Classic Reels
PO Box 211
Clarkston, Michigan 48347
Phone:  248-672-9375
fax: 248-209-7761
www.MysticOutdoors.com

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Rainbow Trout

Fred is in Montana and has been fishing the Missouri River between Craig and Great Falls.

Stacy is stalking the beaches of Baja chasing a very special fish.  I am waiting for a new report.

Our Alaska fishing will begin in June with the opening of Trout season the 11th .

This is a Pink Salmon (even year), so late fall fishing should not be missed for fat and greedy Troutzilla’s

Social Networking

Mystic Waters Fly Fishing is on Facebook – please become a fan if you are on Facebook.  I ignored the social network for some time, but it can be a great way to keep in touch with the people, the fun things and the issues you care about.

Become a fan of Kenai River Alaska

Become a fan of Alaska Fly Fishing

Become a fan of Rainbow Trout

Denny Crum 30inch Rainbow

September Madness

It may be March madness now and Denny is off following and commentating on the games, but come September, he will be on the Kenai.  Here is a picture of his 30″ rainbow from last season.  Now he will be going bigger.

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Noteworthy Gear

I am adding a Sage 7126 TCX  (12’6″ 7wt), 7100 TCX (10′ 7wt) and a Beulah 11’7″ 5wt Trout Spey to my arsenal this year (so far).  There are so many great new rods, reels and fly lines on the market, that the choices can be mind boggling.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about possible new gear purchases.  I know quite a few people in the fly fishing industry and have a general knowledge of many of the products as well as some opinions of my own.

I will be rolling with SageRossBeulahRio and Airflo.

Sage – I am holding on to my XPs, but the  newer ZAxis and TCX rods are truly great. The Sage 4500 and 6000 series reels work very well.

Ross – Check out the new Evolution LT for a fantastic trout reel. The new Momentum LT is great for larger game.

Beulah – Great company for switch and spey rods at a reasonable price.

Rio – The largest variety of specialty lines. Check out the Outbound and Clouser Lines for streamers.

Airflo – Ridge lines are on my trout rods and I love them.

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Dates to Consider

Mike King had planned two visits this season.  He still has his August week, but June 14-18 is open due to some conflicts with his party.  This is a great time for chrome sockeye and opportunistic rainbows.  The following week of June 21 to 25 also has space.  Last season, we were quickly limiting on 6 sockeye and experiencing steady trout fishing afterward during this window.

Bob Shannon has had the third week of September booked for the last eight years.  His daughter sprang a wedding on him, so September 20-24 is now open.  If anyone is interested in these prime dates, please let me know right away.  This is a pink year, so fishing should be very good on the Upper and the Middle Kenai during this week.  We will expect some very big rainbows and some of the first big late run silver salmon.

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Today was a beautiful day in Great Falls Montana and I really felt the pull of the Missouri River. Over the next few months and before I head back to Cooper Landing, I plan to spend time on Montana waters for some great spring fishing. Several Mystic Waters guests from Colorado and Idaho are planning to join me and check out fishing on the MO. I can have my boat in prime trout water in 30-60 min from home or put it in right around the corner in town for walleye and a few lower river browns.

The Kenai awaits in June and I look forward to seeing many familiar and a few new faces this coming season.  If you are sitting on any good pictures or have any interesting tidbits to add for a posting, please let me know.  I am always interested to hear what Mystic Waters guests are doing or planning.

Tight Lines and See You on the Mystic Waters

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The water is still on the rise, but the fishing remains great. 
Marty is Back

Marty is Back

Marty filled us with a killer sushi feast last night and joined in the fishing fun today.  Jerry’s big fish flopped before this picture so he joined in with Marty.

Chrome Silvers!

Chrome Silvers!

Jerry, Russ and Mike all tangled with Chrome Silvers.

Another big bow for Mike King

Another big bow for Mike King

 

Mike "Rainbow" King

Mike

Perfect Trout

Perfect Trout

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Mike King, King of the Kenai June and September

Mike King, King of the Kenai June and September

Mike King is back again with the Western Anglers group from Grand Junction, Colorado and put this great fish into Stacy’s net today.  As I was talking fish with Mike and the boys this evening, I got a phone call from JoelZ.  He was up in July with Phil and Keno and is coming back in two weeks with his son Jacob.  It will be Jacob’s first trip and he is so excited after hearing the stories that he just had to call and get the word.  Can’t wait to meet you Jacob and fish with you and your Dad. Tight Lines, … and we will save you a few.

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