One of the most fun and unique ways to target rainbow trout in Western Alaska is by ‘mousing’. Small voles and other rodents often find themselves in the river, intentionally or not, and our bigger predatory rainbows are always on the lookout for a meal that’s even more filling than their usual diet of salmon parts.
Mousing involves fishing a giant dry fly that imitates a small swimming mammal. It’s highly visual, it’s really exciting, and it tends to select for bigger fish. Sound good?
We thought so. Have a look at these tips for mousing.
- Let him eat it! By far, the hardest part of mousing at first is waiting long enough to set the hook. A mouse represents a big meal to a trout, so they move to the mouse fly really aggressively. Seeing a giant rainbow tear out from under a log to slam your giant dry fly is not exactly easy on the nerves…but you have to be patient! When the fish eats, wait for him to close his mouth and turn his head– otherwise you’ll be pulling that fly out of the mouth of one fish after another. It’s hard. Relax. Breathe deep. Wait to set the hook.
- Pound the bank. That big mouse fly will move fish from a lot of different lies, but trout that are tucked right up against the bank may not see the fly unless you put it right in front of them. Besides, a vole that just launched itself from shore is going to land right up against the bank, so why not do your best to imitate a suicidal little mammal?
- Strip and swing. After you’ve pounded the bank, cover the water down and across using a combination of stripping and slow swinging. A variety of factors including which fly you’re using will impact which works best, so try both.
- Cover the water quickly. Trout have good eyesight, and they’ll move a long ways for a mouse– we’ve seen them come from 15 feet or more. There’s no need to land a second cast 6 inches from where the first one landed– anybody who was home would have eaten the first time. Covering the water really quickly is a much more effective use of your time, and it’s more fun too.
- Let him eat it! Did we mention that you need to be patient on the hook set? Relax. Let him close his mouth and turn his head. Wait.