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It may not feel like spring in much of the country (I awoke to snow flurries), but the days are certainly getting longer. Fred is still in Montana and keeps fishing the Missouri River between Craig and Great Falls. Stacy is stalking the beaches and off-shore reaches of the southern Baja Peninsula, chasing Rooter Fish and whatever else will eat a fly.  Baja Beach Rooster FishHe now has a 23’ Cobia in the Cabo harbor to base from.  I know he made it down safely, after driving up and back from Tucson to fetch it.  I’m waiting for the first fishing report.  Stacy will be ready to host some trips on the Baja in 2012 and I hope to join him along with some of you.

Get Connected

Facebook for those that fishMystic Waters is connected on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Blogger. The Social Network is unavoidable these days and truly is a useful way to follow and connect with your friends, the businesses you support and the topics (like fly fishing) that you love.  If you are on Facebook, please stop by and “Like” Mystic Waters Fly Fishing. Even if you are not on Facebook, you can still check out the Mystic Waters Fly Fishing Page to see what is happening.

I have been maintaining this blog for a couple years now. I also feature a site for seasonal fishing reports at http://www.kenairiverfishingreport.com Using a smart phone, I will be able to update regularly this coming season.  Over the next few weeks, I plan to rebuild mysticfishing.com to include the blog and a storefront for some upcoming logo apparel.  I hope you follow along.  Look for the new mysticwaters.com very soon.

Dates to Consider for 2011

Searching for SalmonYou are going to need a shoe horn to find space from mid August through September.  There are still some open dates scattered between June 11 and August 18. October remains an excellent month to fish the Kenai and we are taking reservations to the 15th.  Some of our best rainbows come in the late fall as well as some impressive silvers.

I am entering my fourth spring in Montana. Despite some lousy weather this year, I love it here. Several Mystic Waters guests and friends have dropped by and fished with me on the Missouri River.  I will soon have my Montana Guide license and plan to do some guiding here before the Kenai calls again.

The Good Stuff

If you fish often, then you certainly love great fly fishing gear.  When you join Mystic Waters, you get to use the good stuff.

For 2011, our primary brands are SageRossBeulahRio, Airflo, and Simms.  This is not to say we don’t use others, but that we feature these premium brands to help make your time on the water more enjoyable.

Deathstar RainbowLast season, I picked up a Sage 10’7wt TCX.  It fished great for large trout and silvers and was my favorite single hand streamer rod.  I also fished with the infamous “Deathstar”; the 12’6” 7wt. spey rod that George Cook nicknamed, because it can cast line to a far off galaxy.  It worked on everything from Anchor River Kings to Sockeye and big Rainbows and Silvers on the Kenai.  It even pulled some nice browns from the Missouri River in Montana.  This year, I am adding the new TCX 11’9” 6wt Switch Rod.

Ross has unveiled the new “revolutionary” F1 Reel.  Can’t wait to see how it rolls. We feature many great Ross Reels on our fly rods.  I’ve been fishing the 8wt Essence FW for several seasons and it continues to be one of the most pleasant casting 9’ 8 weights I have thrown.  We also fished the 12’6” 6wt Reach Spey rod.  It was deadly for sockeye salmon and worked out well for a fair number of big trout and silvers.  Ross also added some new 5 and 6wt Reach rods to the line up that look interesting.

Leaping Silver Salmon on the Kenai RiverBeulah is a great company for switch and spey rods at a reasonable price. I fished the 11’7” 5wt Platinum Spey last season.  It quickly became my favorite trout rod for nymphing and swinging lighter streamers.  From the drift boat, it became the favored rod of any guest who fished it, and was responsible for landing some impressive fish throughout the season. I’ve had the pleasure of spending time on the Missouri River with Bruce Berry (pro staff/rep) for Beulah, and had my spey casting tuned up a bit.

Rio continues to offer the largest variety of specialty lines. I had great success with the clear intermediate Outbound.  I have also found that the 8wt Rio Grand works well as a switch line for spey casting with my 10’ 6wt XPs.  This year, Rio has added a Switch Line to their inventory, and I can’t wait to run it.  I just ordered the complete set of MOW (spey) Tips in the Medium and Heavy weights to cover all water levels and sinking tip needs.

Airflo – Ridge lines have become my standard on the trout rods and I love them.  I started using the Supple Impact last season.  The ridge design works very well and they are durable and perform day after day without constant attention.  They cast and fish like no other.  On the spey side, the Skagit Compact designed by my friend Tom Larimer is the bomb for launching sink tips.

Proudly wearing Simms WadersSimms – Simms is the king when it comes to the soft gear that I rely on day in and day out.  I can’t imagine working through the fishing season without them.  I use the G4 waders and jacket. I rotate several soft shells and the River Tech top is one of my all-time favorites.  The Rivershed Boot with the new streamtread soles has been my footwear of choice.  I like the long sleeved solarflex shirts for any day of the season.  They work for layering in cold weather and as the perfect sun shield layer when it gets hot.

What Else:

I’m becoming a regular contributor to Fish Alaska Magazine.  My third article is coming out in May, with others soon to follow.  Since you enjoy Alaska Fishing, you might enjoy checking out Fish Alaska’s interactive website.

Simms Fish BowlI’m heading down to Bozeman in a week for the 2011 Simms Ice Out Guide Event.  It was great fun last year and looks to be even more action packed this time around.  I look forward to meeting up with guide associates and friends from Alaska, Montana and around the country.

At the end of the month, I am flying to Florida to meet up with my buddy Captain Eric Lund.  Eric and two other guide associates will be hosting me along with a small party of Mystic Waters Fly Fishing guests.  We will be chasing Tarpon on-the-fly along with all the other inshore and flats glamor species.

Roland Martin

We will be staying on a property owned by Roland Martin.  Talk about legendary.  I can’t wait, and I’ll be providing blog and social media updates during and after the trip.

In 2012, we are planning a trip to the incredible bonefish flats of Andros South. We are also considering a Fly Fishing for Kings option in Western Alaska and of course Stacy will be dialed in for Baja.  Stay tuned and let us know if you would like us to put you on a list for specific details on any or all of these options.

Let’s Stay Connected

Kenai Moose CalvesIf you avoid all the social connectivity tools, you can still fire me an email or a text. Even if you are not planning to fish with Mystic Waters this season, I’d love to hear about where you are going.  If you have time to share a story from a previous trip, I’d love to hear about it and possibly use it for a new blog post.  I know there are lots of great stories and pictures out there among you.

Tight Lines and I hope to see you on the Mystic Waters very soon!

Mystic Waters Fly Fishing
Call or Text 907-227-0549
Website: http://www.mysticfishing.com
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Since this is firstly a blog titled Alaska Fly Fishing, I am going to run a series of posts about Alaska fly fishing, focusing on some tips for the uninitiated.   When fishing the waters where big wild trout exist, salmon play a key role in their habits.  The salmon supply the bulk of the food and impact the location and migration patterns of trout throughout the year.   So first we are going to look at the life cycle of the salmon, so we can better understand how the trout are eating.

Spawning Sockeye Salmon

Spawning Sockeye Salmon

Which comes first, the salmon or the egg?

Without getting into an impossible debate, let’s just say the egg comes first, because for anglers, this represents the most important ingredient to prime time trout fishing in Alaska.  When salmon spawn, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden are never far away.  How close depends on the volume of eggs.  Early and late in the spawn, chances are they will be nosing right up to spawning pairs.  When eggs are plentiful, they will search out prime feeding locations where there is less concern about salmon harassment.  There is no free lunch in the fish world.  Aggressive spawning salmon will chase and attack other fish (trout/dollies) around their territory.  You can tell which trout are feeding right in the thick of things, because they will often have tattered fins, missing scales and even some serious bloody wounds.

What makes this trauma worth the price when eating eggs?  Eggs are packed with protein and they can’t swim away.  Trout are hardwired to eat them.  It’s in their DNA.  While individual fish show variables in feeding preferences, eggs are the big show in Alaska.  Salmon eggs are the premier Alaska hatch or the hatch before the hatching (all the following salmon lifecycle stages).

When it comes to matching the salmon egg hatch, it’s really no different than matching bugs.  Focus on color and size and dead drift your offering where the fish are eating.  Eggs can be matched with glo-bug (yarn) flies, chenille eggs, glue gun eggs and even claymation (baked clay) eggs.  Without question, plastic beads have become the norm and are arguably the best choice for most anglers.  They can be purchased in suitable sizes and colors and be doctored with various coatings to look very much like the natural eggs.

What do the real eggs look like?

Sockeye Salmon Eggs

Sockeye Salmon Eggs

Eyed Salmon Eggs

Eyed Salmon Eggs

Each salmon species has a somewhat unique egg in terms of size and color.  It is important to know which salmon you are fishing through, in order to match the naturals.  When eggs are first dropped, we call them freshies.  They are fairly bright in color and translucent.  In the water, they gradually become more opaque and milky pale in coloration.  Once fertilized and developing, they again brighten and become translucent, with the eyes of the developing salmon visible within.  While some anglers have literally hundreds of colors in a variety of sizes, most anglers will do fine with a few freshies and few opaque options in the suitable sizes.  Sockeye eggs are typically close to 6mm, Silvers, Chums and Pinks, close to 8mm and King Salmon eggs, closer to 10mm in size.  These are the three sizing choices most commonly used and available.

On a later posting, I will focus more specifically on imitation.  This will be the first in a series starting with the life cycle of salmon and I’m just going to have to see where it take me.  On the next post, we will look at Alevins.

Pick the correct salmon related food item and you just might hook a trout like this.

Egg Eating Alaska Rainbow Trout

Egg Eating Alaska Rainbow Trout

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The Post Room

Subzero and Snowing

Friday was the day.  For me, it was the first day since mid November where I just knew it when I went out the door.  I had the innate sense that the fishing was going to be on.  Well, in truth, my sense is partially developed from years of experience and understanding simple patterns.  Seven days of mild, above freezing highs in the middle of winter.  The strong Chinook winds that had been blowing were lying down as the next cold front approached.  The fish have no choice but to take advantage of water a degree or two above the norm, especially with the next arctic blast approaching. And I almost missed it.

Heading toward the Big Belts.

The Drive

 

Friday was my day to clean the house in preparation for my son’s 11th year birthday party, Airsoft Gun war and sleepover on Saturday.  There was also laundry to do among other domestic tasks, plus my own list of business details.  I had better be on time to pick up my wife from school with a Pomegranate Martini ready within moments of her walking in the door.  At 9:30am, I was at my computer, looking at the weather forecast for Craig, MT and thinking that this is it.  Ideal conditions on the water and I’m at home trying to make the right choice.  I flashed on a recent post from Headhunters: “As a general rule, the only bad decisions we make exclude fishing.”  That sealed it.

Missouri River Montana

Can you feel it!

Fish Ahead

The Walk

I threw on my waders and hit the road.  My fishing gear was already loaded and ready for just such an effort.  I grabbed my wife’s new camera that I had purchased for her Christmas present, thinking it would be a good idea to test it out on the Montana landscape and possibly a fish or two.  I had a particular spot in mind.  It was only 35 min away.  I should be able to test the waters, the camera and make it back in time to bust out some chores.

Fish On

Fish On

Missouri River Rainbow

Don't be embarrased.

 

Missouri River in January

Streamer Chomper

Perfect Trout

Perfect Trout

Hardy Bridge

Heading Home

Fish Eye

Your Wife Will Get You!

Within an hour’s time, I cleaned the upstairs bathroom, swept the living room and kitchen, shop vac’ed the hard to reach corners along with the front entryway, shook out the rugs and sugared the rim of a martini glass.  I was at the school entrance by 3:45.  No one even asked about my day.

On Saturday morning, my wife grabbed the camera to film my daughter who was in a vocal competition.  I was busy making final birthday party prep.  When she got home, I got the business.  What were you doing all day yesterday hmmm?

The fishing was just as I expected.  It was almost unfair.  I am still smiling as I look out the window at a cold winter landscape once again.  We’ve had about 4” of snow and the temps are going sub zero again.

I’ve been busy for 24 hours keeping up with the boys, feeding them, cleaning up after them and sending them off and cleaning up again.  I’ll get the laundry done now and I’ll have time to work all day tomorrow on business.  The bruise where my wife pinched me will soon fade.  I made a great decision to go fishing!

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Chasing Rainbow Trout on the Kenai River on a misty, mystic, perfect fall morning.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

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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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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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Sage TXL #00

Almost too big.

Matt and Kenny from Moscow Idaho were running around Montana this past week spending taxpayer money on BLM fencing projects and still had some time for fishing.  We met up for dinner last night in Great Falls and planned to head to the river early.  I almost spun out towing the boat over a frosty bridge on I15 by Cascade on the way to the river, but the fish gods prevailed and we got on the water with a chill in the air, snow on the ground, but calm wind.

Double Rainbows

Matt and Kenny were not sure if there were fish in Montana.

The subsurface bite was savage and it was hard to drag the boys away, but we headed further up the Canyon mid day and found some dry fly action.  Matt had a new TXL #00  to break in and after hooking a hot mid sized bow, he was worried it might frag out.  I said, “Hey Matt, that is generation 5 graphite, so put some PSI on that fish.  Why is it that grown men get so excited catching trout on featherweight rods and diminutive dry flies?  Who knows and who cares.  It’s just fun.

brown trout

Perfect #00 fish.

The wind started picking up around 2pm, so we went back to nymphing.  It got colder, windier and looked like snow again.  The hands started to freeze, so we decided to call it a good day.  Matt and Kenny headed toward Wolf Creek to pick up the interstate and I headed back down the Canyon.  I stopped at Mountain Palace to dehydrate and the wind was not too bad.   My brand new TCX 7126 was strung up and ready in the Yukon, so I decided to practice a few launches.  I fired my best “Death Star” spey shot and it made me smile and giggle the way Matt’s trout on the #00 made his day.  I also noted some little sails above the midges and a few fish rising off the island.  I figured I’d make one more stop.  I must apologize to Matt for what I am about to say, but I stopped at our first day maker dry fly spot and sure enough, a few heads were poking.  I managed to land three sizable browns before pushing back into the nasty north wind rolling off the plains on the way back to Great Falls.

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