fly fishing

Trout fishing in June???

Trout fishing in June???

Yes, there is awesome trout fishing in Alaska’s early season! Early season fishing in Alaska has been overshadowed in recent years by the fall salmon egg glut.  The invention of bead fishing seems to really have changed people’s idea of what the peak season is.  When you talk to people about June fishing they seem to think you can’t catch good trout in Alaska until the salmon spawn and bead fishing is on.  Fake news!!!  Don’t get me wrong – August and September fishing can be epic due to the salmon spawn, but June and July can be just as good.  But we don’t want you to take our word for it.  Here’s a note from one of our well-traveled, well-fished guests highlighting some of the reasons you should consider Alaska’s early season fishing: Last year was eighth trip overall to No See Um Lodge and was scheduled for opening week, June 12th.  I wasn’t sure what to expect as the opening week isn’t bead fishing season when the salmon are spawning and when most fisherman think about fishing in Alaska.  I decided to bring, for the first time, my switch rod and use it all week for something different.  Turns out early season fishing and the switch rod were a smart move.  Here’s why: The rivers aren’t crowded with fishermen in the middle of June as they are later in the season when the salmon are spawning.  All week, I think we saw other people one time. The days are long as the summer solstice is only 10 days away – no getting up in the dark. The weather feels about the same as later in the season.  I have fished in a t-shirt in August and I have hunkered down in a swale in the pouring rain, driving wind and cold temps.  The weather last June was typical – a couple of days I stayed in my wader jacket and several days I fished in a long sleeved shirt. Hey, this is Alaska and if you aren’t ready for variable weather; then you are in the wrong place. The fishing was terrific which is obviously why you go.  The water was low and there had been a terrific salmon run the previous fall which meant lots of salmon fry feeding lots of hungry trout – perfect conditions for a switch or spey rod where a little extra distance doesn’t hurt and where the rhythm of a longer rod fits well in the unbelievable Alaska environment. Several of No See Um guides are steelhead guides in the winter.  For folks like myself who don’t get to use my switch rod as much as I would like, the help of the experienced guides was invaluable. On the very best, day, I caught 25-30 fish on a mile stretch of a river.  I was surprised – pleasantly.  Most of the fish I caught were very healthy and in the 20-24” range. Bottom line:  I have been to No See Um the […]

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Swinging for Kings in Alaska

Swinging for Kings in Alaska

Join us in June 2018 for kings and rainbows on the swing If you’ve been looking to fish Alaska with a spey rod…June is the perfect month for it!  We will be offering two featured weeks, June 11-18 and June 18-25, where the focus will be swinging flies. In the spring the trout are hungry and aggressive, and will absolutely attack streamers and mice.  This offers a great opportunity to work on your technique with a lot of positive reinforcement.  During the week of 18th-25th we will shift our attention towards swinging for kings.  There’s not much that can compare to hooking a 20+ pound king on a spey rod. When fishing for rainbows we recommend a 11′-12.5′ 6wt switch or spey rod.  Depending on the water conditions, and your preference, you could be fishing a mouse with a floating line or streamers on sink tips.  King fishing will be on the Nushagak and/or Alagnak, two of Alaska’s best salmon rivers.  We will be using 12.5′-14′ 9 or 10 weight spey rods and fishing heavy, with sink tips and big streamers. Experienced spey caster? Great!  We will get you right into fishing.  However, one of the best things about spey casting is that there’s always ways to improve.  So we can help you fine tune your casting motion and your fishing techniques. Never picked up a spey rod, or just getting started? Not a problem! On Monday we will offer an afternoon of spey casting instruction to get you started.  Whether you are a total beginner to fishing with a two-handed rod, or are looking to improve your skills, we will customize the instruction to your level and goals.  Over the course of the week we will keep working with you to give you a solid foundation to build on. Spring in Alaska Of course we can’t talk about June in Alaska without mentioning the weather!  The average highs are in the low 60’s and there’s that midnight sun.  All of that sunlight makes for a stunning landscape with bright greens and all shades of vibrant wild flowers.  With daily fly outs you really get a chance to enjoy all the different scenery from the ground, and the sky.  It’s a great time of year for Alaskan adventures! Contact us for more details or to book your spot!  

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Hosted Trip to the Seychelles and Zambia

Hosted Trip to the Seychelles and Zambia

Lodge owner, John Holman, will be hosting a once-in-a-lifetime fly fishing trip to Alphonse Island, Seychelles and along Zambia’s Lower Zambezi River in Africa. Your journey starts with the tropical paradise of Alphonse Island, situated in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.  This legendary fly fishing destination will put your right in the heart of a fishery that is renowned for its density of bonefish, Indo-Pacific Permit and the huge Giant Trevally to name a few of the 60 species that are worthy fly rod species.  The professional guiding team will maximize your chances of getting in to the fish each day by sharing their knowledge and passion of the area and its fish species and how best to target them. There are few experiences as rewarding as being able to drift one of the world’s largest rivers with a fly rod in hand and a back drop of true wilderness that is home to most of Africa’s big game which you will next experience at Chiawa Camp in Zambia.  Your main focus on the river will be to target the tiger fish.  This species is well known as being pound for pound one of the best fighting fish in the world.  These incredibly beautiful fish have a tendency to get airborne the second they are hooked and are a species that are a “must” for any serious fly fisherman.   The bony jaws, interlocking teeth and lightning fast strike of a tiger fish makes it a formidable target and a worthy trophy for anyone who succeeds in landing one.  Combining this opportunity with the chance to view Africa’s big game in close proximity from the comfort of an open land-rover or from the boat as you drift the river, makes for an incredible blend of fly fishing and safari. The trip will be October 12-26 2018, at a cost of $17,700 per person.  We trust that this encounter targeting some of the world’s top fly fishing species alongside Africa’s wildlife will be an unforgettable experience! Regards, John Holman and Essential Africa Guided Safaris

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Five Tenkara Fly Fishing Techniques That Really Work

Five Tenkara Fly Fishing Techniques That Really Work

We enjoy tenkara fly fishing here in Alaska because it lets us focus on trout instead of fussing with gear. Whether you’re new to this timeless style of stalking fish or you’ve already mastered tying the perfect kebari, we bet you’re a lot like us. You appreciate a quick rundown of easy, productive techniques. These five tips can really help you get the most out of your fixed line fly fishing experience. 1. Sometimes, Level Beats Furled A furled tenkara line lets you finesse presentation into a fine art, and its tapered twist can perfect your turnover. Sometimes, its length options are too limited, and its bulky taper interferes with casting on a windy day. In these situations, a level line wins. You can also count on straight fluorocarbon line to keep you off the water and reduce drag, so include it in your small but effective set of must-have gear. 2. Sometimes, Long Beats Short The short line holds its place as a fundamental part of tenkara gear for good reason. It’s easy to cast and gives you powerful control over placement. Sometimes, you need the reach of a long line, but know how to handle it. Ease up on the power of your throw, and go with a back cast stop at 12 o’clock. Keep your forward cast stop high so that your fly hits the water before your line. 3. The Wind Can Be Your Friend Don’t give up when the breeze turns into a stiff wind. One of our favorite tenkara tricks, the blowline technique, can keep you on the water for hours. Put the wind at your back, and pull your rod up so that the fly clears the water. When wind catches the line, guide the fly just above your target, and then lower the rod. We don’t promise accuracy with this method, but it can turn into a real trip-saver. 4. If It’s Not Working, Quit Trying When a dead drift doesn’t work, try a swing down and across stream. If the trout keep ignoring you, entice them with a little sutebari by casting around them and then throwing to target. Minimum gear choices keep options simple, so you can switch techniques as fast as that trout turns away. Ask us why we enjoy tenkara so much, and we have to say because it gives us the freedom to quit doing what isn’t working. 5. Let Go and Get Lost It takes a little time to get used to fishing without a reel. The experience is surprisingly liberating, and that’s one of the reasons that fixed line fishing earns such a respected place on the water. You’re not making decisions based on gear, so you’re in a mental zone that’s not rattled by technical clutter. Let go, get lost, and set yourself free to experience the zone and zen that define tenkara fly fishing. Just like you, we’re always working on our techniques up here at No See Um Lodge. We know that […]

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The Great Big List of Fly Fishing Tips

The Great Big List of Fly Fishing Tips

We recently partnered with Woman’s Outdoor News to showcase some of our best tips for successful fly fishing. These cover a variety of fly fishing tips to help you cast better, fish smarter and advance your fly fishing. Here’s the full breakdown! Getting Off to a Great Start: You’re on your favorite river and ready to catch every fish in Alaska. Slow down, and ease your way into a productive day. Fish are easier to catch when you can see them. Polarized sunglasses let you spot potential strikes under the brightest sun-kissed waters. Take in the lay of the land and the river. Check your clearance, size up the shade, and scan for seams. Let the water and air dictate your fly selections. Sneak up on the fish. They spook at the sight and sound of waders, so ease into position without splashing, and then start slowly stalking. Three Must-Tie Fishing Knots If you’re new to fly fishing in Alaska, start with these 3 basic knots. If you’re a seasoned pro, practice the trinity, and improve your tie-on-the-fly time. Improved Clinch Knot: It’s easy, it’s fast and it gives you 95% of your original line strength. This is your classic knot for attaching light tippets to small flies. No-Slip Loop Knot: Does that fly need a little more action in the drift? Alaskan fly-fishing guides recommend this knot with larger lines. Double Surgeon’s Knot: When you need to connect different-sized lines, go with this quick and easy tie. It’s bulky, but it lets you size your tippet to suit your fly. Mousing Tips for Trout Who knows why rodents fling themselves off riverbanks? Just take advantage of big rainbows’ appetites for little 4-legged swimmers. Go mousing for trout. Natural mouse action starts up against the bank. Present your giant, dry fly to fish tucked in and under. It’s an enticement they usually can’t refuse. Trust ‘bows for excellent eyesight. They’ll move out to your mouse, so reel them in with a strip-and-swing combo. You’ll cover more water, catch more fish and have more fun. Mousing takes patience. That’s the hard part. Wait for the closed mouth and the turned head, and then set the hook. Otherwise, wave goodbye to that trophy trout. Prepare Yourself for Rain You can count on a few rainy days, but be prepared for all of them. A little wet weather can’t chase you off the water when you’re prepared with quality rain gear. Gore-Tex still beats the competition as your best waterproof fabric choice. Its lightweight and breathability keep you flexible and comfortable. Go with a wading jacket. The shorter length keeps you from taking on water, and oversized pockets give you plenty of room for fly boxes and hand warmers. Layer on the right materials. Slip a quick-dry, long sleeve shirt over a T-shirt made from the same material. This strategy helps you stay dry regardless of the weather. Avoid Snags with a Sidearm Cast Sometimes, the trout know just where to lure you […]

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5 Fly Fishing Flies That You Should Cast More Often

5 Fly Fishing Flies That You Should Cast More Often

We bet that when a bug hatch makes trout appear out of nowhere, you drift an Adams through the strike zone. When they’re down deep, you might bounce a size 14 nymph off the bottom. You can always cast the classics, but how about something that’s a little off the traditional trout-pleasing menu? We nominate these five candidates for Alaskan fly fishing fun outside the box. 1. Mighty Mouse Imitators When it’s summertime in Alaska, you need to think about mousing. This pattern isn’t just an August trick for anglers stalking the big fish, but it can be a challenge to fire out on a cast. Size matters with this giant fly because it imitates a small mammal. Technique matters because you want it to imitate that small mammal taking a swim. Patience really counts. You have to let a trout slam the fly and turn before you set the hook. We aren’t saying that mousing is easy, but we do guarantee that it’s a lot of fun. 2. Deliciously Tied Sculpin Don’t let their size put you off. Big flies land big fish, and sculpins drive big rainbows wild. It’s up to you to deliver the motion that makes this fly so appealing to trout. Whether you swing down and across from gravel bars or cast to hungry ‘bows across spawning flats, a sculpin pattern consistently catches fish. We really admire the way this fly attracts hits before, during and after the spawn. Its little olive namesake isn’t much to look at, but a well-tied sculpin is a thing of delicious beauty to big, fat trout. 3. Dead Drifting Flesh You have to love the startled look on an uninitiated face when you casually talk about fishing flesh. It gets even better when you explain how the fly pattern imitates chunks of decomposing salmon. The high point comes when you show a novice how quick and easy it is to tie this inexpensive and effective fly. Can it get any better? Yes. You can’t fish flesh wrong, and trout love it. We favor a dead drift without any pun intended, but you can swing and even strip flesh. We’ll just leave it at that. 4. Correctly Pegged Beads Some folks still don’t believe that fishing a bead is really fly fishing. Obviously, the bead isn’t a fly, and it’s not attached to the hook. Here in Alaska, it’s considered an attractor, so you can’t peg one more than 2 inches from a hook. If you’re in fly-fishing only waters, you can’t fish a bead with a bare hook. We understand and respect the rules, and we know you do too. Beads are on our list because they’re cheap, realistic and durable, and they really catch fish. Don’t get us started on how easy it is to cast stone beads from the craft store. 5. Steak and Egg Combos Just the name of this late fall rig conjures up visions of doubling your hit percentage. It’s true. The presentation of […]

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Alaska’s Four Unofficial Fly Fishing Seasons

Alaska’s Four Unofficial Fly Fishing Seasons

Once winter sets in, we don’t do much fly-fishing. That never surprises folks from the Lower 48 because everybody knows that it gets pretty cold up here. What does surprise them isn’t a secret, and it always puts a smile on faces that come fish with us for the first time. We actually have four unofficial fly-fishing seasons here in southwestern Alaska, and each one is perfect in its own way. Unofficial Fishing Season 1 – April and May By April, the ice-out is on, but we treat early fly fishing spring fever with a big dose of patience. The state protects spawning rainbows by closing trout fishing in many rivers and streams and all fishing in some area waters. Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game posts online reports with detailed information about stocked lakes that are open through early spring. By May, downstream salmon fry migration turns into a buffet for winter-starved predators like dolly varden, and our unofficial first fly fishing season is unofficially under way. Unofficial Fishing Season 2 – June and July When rainbow fishing opens around the middle of June, we’re already out there chasing king, sockeye, coho, chum and pink salmon. The kings’ unofficial early run usually peaks by the middle of June, and we see anglers land 50- to 60-pounders every year. Early sockeye action fires up by the end of June with some of the world’s largest runs happening right here in southwestern Alaska. We’re catching plenty of dollies and ‘bows too. By the end of July, we’re officially in Alaskan fly fishing heaven. Unofficial Fishing Season 3 – August and September The end of summer means last call for late king and sockeye runs as they finish spawning, but even-numbered years put us on pink salmon from early August well into September. We’ve broken a few rods on 20-pound chums in August, and cohos stay aggressive well into September. Steelhead start to show up in some of our peninsula watersheds delivering serious fly fishing action all the way through October. Rainbow trout really bring out the best in us this time of year. They’re pretty much full of salmon eggs, so it takes every trick in our tackle box to entice stuffed ‘bows. Dollies are just as challenging. Unofficial Fishing Season 4 – October and November Sure, sometimes we have to knock the ice out of our guides, but it’s not officially winter yet, so we make the most of Unofficial Season 4. We enjoy the last coho runs even with a little cold and rain. Steelheads can be as elusive as ever, but they’re here in small runs. The seasonal egg smorgasbord is disappearing out from under the ‘bows, so we switch to flesh patterns. Some of our flowing waters are closed mid-September through the end of October to protect dolly varden during their spawn, so we always check ADFG online for details. Unofficially, we spend winter getting the lodge ready for your fly-in. Whether you come up for the […]

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10 Trout Fly Fishing Basics That We All Forget Sometimes 

10 Trout Fly Fishing Basics That We All Forget Sometimes 

If you’re like us, sometimes your enthusiasm gets in the way. Maybe you’re too focused on that perfect presentation. Perhaps you’re daydreaming about how the morning just has to get better, or you’re suddenly up to your waders in incredible action. Once in an Alaskan blue moon, you actually miss one of these 10 trout fly fishing basics. 1. Take a Good Look The greatest fly fishing guide in Alaska can put you on the best action of your life, but slow down before casting your fate to those trout. Take stock of shade, find the seams, and check out the water and air for the day’s most likely fly options. 2. Make Sure You Can See A few minutes of quiet observation puts you ahead of the game, but how well can you see that potential action? Polarized sunglasses make it easier to spot trout coursing through sun-spangled waters, and your favorite hat is must-wear eye-shading gear. 3. Wade, Don’t Splash If the sight and size of waders wasn’t enough to spook them, trout still take off at the sound of your thrashing and splashing from bank to position. Ease into the water slowly, sneak up on steelheads and rainbows, and quietly stalk them with fly fishing finesse. 4. Put Those Nymphs to Work What’s in the water all year long and makes up the majority of an Alaskan trout’s diet? What type of presentation doesn’t include watching that rainbow race for your dry fly? Don’t deny yourself the productivity that comes from mastering the art of casting nymphs. 5. Big Trout Love Streamers This is another angle that gets you out of the dry-fly box, and it’s really effective with the big guys. The larger the trout, the more it needs to eat.  So, up your chances of landing a hungry trophy by swinging a good streamer presentation. 6. Match Colors With Seasons It happens. You try your best, and you still can’t figure out which fly color works best. When you’re overcome with indecision, don’t over-think it. Keep it as simple as lighter shades in the summer and dark colors for fall and spring. 7. Pause and Inspect Wind knots weaken line, hackles need adjustment, and tippets deserve a close look. Some Alaskan fly fishermen check their setup after every cast while others are good with a quick inspection after five or six tries. Mileage may vary, but this tip saves tackle and aggravation. 8. Hooks Need Help They don’t stay sharp by themselves, and the best down-time maintenance doesn’t always hold up to a stretch of heavy action. Keep a stone or diamond hone handy to touch up hooks that get dull during duty with as many rock strikes as trout bites. 9. When You Stalk, Stay Low You’ve probably demonstrated this basic to folks who are just learning the art of our sport, but it’s an easy one to forget. Trout that see you coming are gone in a heartbeat even when you’re wearing your […]

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How to Choose a Fly Fishing Rod?

How to Choose a Fly Fishing Rod?

Before you smile and wave us on, we understand that you probably already have the perfect fly fishing rod. We’re not sure that there is such a thing, but feedback here tells us that folks really enjoy honing all the finer points of fly fishing in Alaska, so let’s talk basics about picking out rods. Whether you’re filling up the rack or taking your very first plunge, these five questions should always be asked and answered. 1. Where Is This Rod Going? Are you setting your sights for rainbows on the Kvichak River or lake trout in the Upper Skilak? A fly fishing rod doesn’t care about the itinerary, but you want a length that targets the fish. If you expect to do some bush whacking, a 7- or 8-foot rod makes a good choice while many dedicated still water anglers prefer 10-footers. Split it down the middle with a good 9-foot rod, and you can fly fish almost anywhere here in Alaska. As long as you always match line and rod weight, you’re good to go. 2. Can You Handle the Action? If this is your first fly fishing rodeo, welcome to the club, and consider choosing a medium, mid-flex rod. It’s perfect for freshwater trout, versatile under almost any conditions and easy to learn. Slow, full-flex rods are also forgiving when you’re new, and they put extra excitement into landing small fish. Save the fast action rods for power casting on windy days. It takes practice to finesse precision out of these models, and you don’t get as much small-stream flexibility. 3. Does Material Really Matter? There’s no argument about the high-performing durability that you get with a graphite rod. Its light weight and responsive sensitivity make this your best choice hands down. Sure, you can spend more for something infused with boron or nano-silica resin, and you’ll enjoy longer rod life, but it comes down to personal preference. We know anglers who still love fiberglass for small fish and close quarters. We even understand bamboo and cane because we admire the custom craftsmanship that goes into these expensive models. 4. Are There Devils in Rod Details? Fly fishing rod manufacturers want to make you happy. They know that bells and whistles spook fish, but you have options. If construction is paramount in your decision, check out different manufacturers’ sites. If you prefer easy packing for quick travel, choose a multi-piece model. You might enjoy the personal thrill of starting with a rod blank courtesy of custom crafters who produce originals from grip to guides. A new fly fishing rod can be as beautifully simple or astonishingly sophisticated as you like. 5. What Do You Get for Your Money? We finish up with this one because we know that a $50 fly fishing rod can look like a bargain. You’ll meet up with this temptation in big box stores that also sell lawn mowers and linens. Fishing is a lifetime love, so invest at least $100 in something […]

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Why Are Fishermen Called Anglers? Hooks and History

Why Are Fishermen Called Anglers? Hooks and History

John Denny’s book, “The Secrets of Angling,” morphed the word into a noun, and Izaak Walton finally bestowed it on fishermen as a specific designation when he published “The Compleat Angler” in 1653. We could be called hookers. Go ahead and laugh. It makes us grin too, but think about the etymology. That $20 word for the study of word origins has something in common with fly fishing here in Alaska. It’s not an exact science, and its practice always leaves room for improvement, improvising and a passionate pursuit of perfection. We know that’s a mouthful, so let’s figure out the angler moniker with a very brief history of hooks. A Hook by Any Other Angle So, why are fishermen called anglers? Were we given the name as a verb describing what we do, or was it derived from that angle on the end of our lines? Yes, hooks were called angles back in the 1400s when Dame Juliana Berners published her ultimate guide titled “Treatise of Fishing With an Angle.” Dame Berners even included instructions for crafting angles because tackle shops didn’t catch on until the late 1600s. Gorges, Copper and Cock Feathers What do you call a spindle-shaped piece of bone used to catch fish more than 7,000 years ago? Archeologists call it a gorge. Fortunately, the wordsmiths left this one alone, and we’re glad because we don’t like the idea of being known as gorgers. The Bronze Age gave fishermen tools that let them reshape their gorges, and Egyptians figured out the basic shape that we recognize today. Those hooks dating back to 3000 B.C. were barbless copper wonders, but design evolution resulted in a barbed version by 1200 B.C. Second century Romans were partial to iron and bronze hooks sporting red wool and cock feathers. Historic rumor has it that these were the first hand-tied flies. From Homemade to Kirby Standards From those ancient times up to the days when defining the word “angler” was still up in the air, hook production was a home-based business. All fishing tackle started out as a project on someone’s back porch, but hooks posed a special challenge to determined fishermen. In spite of Dame Berners’ how-to book, the quality of iron hooks remained dicey at best. Credit inventive Englishman Charles Kirby for perfecting the steel-tempering process that put his little company on the map in 1665. Mass production quickly figured out his secrets, but his hook designs set the standards, and one of his originals brings a nice price for something that’s considered discontinued. Lucky Anglers With Options Whether we’re called anglers because of what we do or what we do it with, we can look back in amazement at how far we’ve come. Can you imagine what kind of tackle box you’d need for a gorge collection? You’d have to keep Roman cock feathers in a shoe box instead of a fly case. Today, we fish with steel, carbon and alloys. We can pick and choose hooks that […]

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