Leopards and tigers and bears, oh my! Well two outta three ain’t bad. There are several claims of other rivers in Alaska being home to the legendary Leopard Rainbow Trout. And though it may be true to only a degree, this is the place where they were perfected.
Few places on earth have rainbows this pretty. Thick blood red side stripes pour out of crimson gill plates accenting their broad shouldered heavy bellied deep green bodies that are covered with black spots that ooze into one another, like their big cat namesake. But don’t let these good looks fool you. One look at the grocery hole of a mouth on these critters will clue you in to the fact that these are rodent-eating, egg stealing, carcass guarding river serpents. They are far removed from their wimpy midge sipping kin in the lower forty-eight.
We are very proud of our rainbows, as we are all of our native resident species. Out of this respect we have adopted a strict fly-only, catch and release policy in order to ensure the long-lasting protection of one of our greatest and most unique fishery resources.
We use a wide variety of techniques when targeting our rainbows, and we fish in a whole bunch of different types of water. Flesh flies, egg imitations, sculpin patterns and leeches all work well at certain times on the Kanektok. Mousing for rainbows is one of our favorite sports of all. We fish big-water snags, ledges and dropoffs, upriver spawning beds and little tiny side channels with barely a trickle of flow.
Lots of our fishing for rainbows happens on foot. We sometimes fish from our jet boats in ‘drift boat’ mode. We also like to spey fish for trout – here’s some information on why we think spey fishing for trout is fun, what types of gear we use, and the techniques that work best.
Fly Tackle for Rainbow Trout
We recommend 6 to 7 weight high quality, fast action rods capable of casting mouse patterns and split shot, and dealing with the occasional rogue salmon that will strike your trout fly. Drift fishing can be snag intensive so be prepared to use a little heavier leader for trout than most people are accustomed to. Rainbows on the Kanektok can range from 12 to 30 plus inches!
To match rod with medium to strong drag.
Floating lines with 120 yards of backing are most common. We occasionally use very short sinktips.
8 to 12 pound monofilament.