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Alaska Rainbow Fishing – When To Go

Posted on November 10 2009

Here’s one from late August.
Photo: Cameron Miller

We get lots of questions from anglers planning trips who want to know ‘the best time to go’. When it comes to rainbow trout in Western Alaska, the answer depends a lot on what you’re looking for.

Since rainbows in the Kanektok are all resident fish and their summer feeding season is short, if there’s no ice on the river you’re probably going to catch fish. That being said, there are some definite differences in the rainbow fishing during the period in which we’re open at Alaska West.

Here’s a little primer.

Early season – mid-June to mid-July

During this period, the Kanektok isn’t yet clogged with salmon. Our rainbows are hungry after a long cold winter, and they’re really opportunistic feeders.

Covering lots of water with big flies is generally the ticket. Sculpins, leeches, big flesh flies, and contrary to popular belief, mouse patterns all produce. BONUS: kings on swung flies!

Mid season – mid-July to mid-August

This is generally our peak time for trout numbers. A wide variety of techniques applied in lots of different water all produce fish. Side channels, spawning beds, mid-river snags, shelves and the couch water get fished and the fish tend to do their part.

Beads, flesh in a range of sizes, and the standard leech and sculpin patterns remain favorites. Mousing is awesome. BONUS: silvers, chums, pinks, sockeye, dollies, grayling!

Late season – mid-August to early September

Time to look for Big Jerry. Our rainbows get fatter and fatter as the season goes on, so late is good if you’re hoping for the fish of a lifetime. The trout tend to be a little more concentrated later in the season, so it’s important to spend your time in the right water.

Side channels are less of a factor as the river drops. Upriver spawning beds and lower river snags are favorite spots. The couch water on inside bends still produces. A variety of flies get fished, but beads and smaller flesh patterns are the stars in the late season. BONUS: silvers, silvers and more silvers!

More On Our Fishery At Alaska West

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