What’s better than landing a fat, wild, Naknek rainbow trout on a surface fly? Landing TWO fat, wild, Nanek rainbow trout on a surface fly.
Deneki’s own Mike Sanders closes out our 2016 season at Rapids Camp Lodge with a lesson on why it’s a good idea to fish the Naknek River in the fall.
Big, we mean BIG wild Alaskan rainbow trout. Wow.
Nice fish, Mike!
More from Rapids Camp Lodge
As a full service fly-out operation, at Rapids Camp Lodge we’re able to target trout in a bunch of really cool, dynamic fisheries around Bristol Bay. However, we’re extremely fortunate to be located on the banks of the Naknek River, home to some of the baddest rainbow trout in Alaska, making for one heck of a home river!
Naknek rainbows aren’t your average rainbow trout and here’s why.
- You Can Catch Them in a Bunch of Interesting Ways. Chasing pods of smolt-busting rainbows with floating smolt patterns and/or poppers, or swinging flies on small spey or switch rods in traditional steelhead fashion are two of our favorite (and even producive) ways to target trout on the Naknek, and we’re able to do a lot of it!
- They Approach Sizes That Rival Some Steelhead. Each year the Naknek is known for producing some of the largest rainbow trout throughout Alaska, some reaching sizes that leave anglers scratching their head asking; “Are you sure there aren’t any steelhead in here?”
- They Fight Really Hard. Hefty fish and swift current make up the recipe for one heck of a fight when hooking a Naknek rainbow. They fight long and hard, and we like it that way.
Sound like a good time? Drop us a line for more information!
More on Rainbow Trout at Rapids Camp
2016 brought higher than average water levels to our home river at Alaska West, greatly improving our opportunity to target trout in one of our favorite ways – Stalking them on foot in smaller, intimate, side channels and sight fishing for them!
We’ve ran a few posts in the past on some tips for sight fishing for trout, and today Alaska West guide, Greg Houska, shares a few more tips on getting the ‘eat’ when you’re staring straight at Hog Johnson.
Sight Fishing for Trout – 3 Tips
- Increase Your Drift. Increase your chance of getting ‘the eat’ by giving a long drift. First, study the trout’s behavior and holding zone, then begin your drift at least 10 ft ahead of that. This allows the fly to naturally move down the feeding lane while giving the fish more time to visually hone-in on your offering. Beware however, sometimes giving a long drift places your fly in a different, sometimes smaller, fish’s feeding lie. Adjust accordingly!
- Tweak it. Trout denials can be a good thing. If a trout denies a presentation after giving it a hard look, or even a general glance, it means that your rig is on the right track! Try changing your fly or bead size (usually by going smaller) or drop down to a lighter tippet. Another factor to consider tweaking is the fly’s depth in the water column by adding (or removing) a split shot.
- Watch the fish! If you can see your target fish watch it, not your fly or indicator. When you’re pretty sure your fly is in the trout’s feeding zone you should be looking at the trout to watch for any subtle or obvious movement. Seeing things like a mouth opening, shifting out of its established lie, or even a turn of it’s head probably means that it ate your offering. Set the hook!
More on Sight Fishing for Trout
One of the most exhilarating aspects of fly fishing is that each and every time your fly is in the water, you never quite know what could happen next – a perpetual level of faith if you will.
Sort of like when you think you’ve doubled up on your umpteenth silver salmon of the day, only to find out a massive leopard rainbow trout decided to hop on too. Thank you Alaska for keeping us guessing..
Nice work guys!
More on Rainbow Trout AND Silver Salmon
Fly fishing for bonefish means always being ready, and those of you who have joined us at Andros South know exactly what we’re talking about. In fact, we’ve written many times before about the importance of a good ‘ready position‘ on the flats – an ample supply of line on the deck, a decent length off the tip to start the cast, and hyper-focused eyes scanning the flat ahead for hungry critters.
So why the heck is the angler pictured above wearing waders? Well, that’s the ‘ready position’ our guests at Rapids Camp Lodge have to be in when oversized Alaskan rainbow trout are busting smolts.
Every year from mid June through late July on the Naknek River, millions of salmon smolt make their way to the ocean. Large voracious trout await this migration only to force the massive schools of immature salmon to the shallows creating a violent ‘bust’ on the surface of the water. The bust is typically observed upstream of the boat, allowing a savvy angler to cast into the boiling water indicative of smolt running for their lives. Surface skaters or flashy subsurface streamers are the ammunition of choice as the busts roll by the boat, with casts anywhere from ten to eighty feet needed to deliver the meal.
Couple that with dive bombing birds trying to get in on the action and you’ve got a scene more similar to open saltwater fishing for bluefish or striped bass than your traditional trout fishery. Believe it.
The fish? They’re nearly saltwater-sized too! During the bust, it’s not uncommon to pick up numerous fish in the 24 inch range with some specimens stretching the tape to a whopping 30 inches and occasionally weighing in at ten plus pounds..
You just have to be ready.
More on Alaskan Trout Fishing
We’re really lucky to witness a pretty spectacular phenomenon each season on the Naknek River – Home to our Rapids Camp Lodge Operation. Each spring, salmon smolt from the millions of salmon that have spawned throughout the Naknek River system make their way towards the ocean. Large, hungry, rainbow trout await the migration each year creating a massive feeding frenzy known by the initiated as the annual ‘Smolt Bust.’
As predatory rainbows wreak havoc on these schools of snack sized salmon smolt, the smolt are often herded to the surface creating the ‘bust’ favored by both anglers and birds alike. This makes for some pretty epic topwater action, and our own Dan Herrig showed us a clever way to target these glutinous trout using standard foam popper bodies. Here’s how..
- Thread a Rainy’s foam popper head onto your leader (white or green is best).
- Tie on a simple unweighted streamer pattern in typical salmon ‘smolty’ colors – Whites, pearls, grays, etc. According to Dan, simple is best here, even so much as only a few wraps of white crosscurrent bunny strip.
- Slide the popper head down to the fly, nesting it over the eye of the hook.
- Find the bust, make a ruckus on the surface (imitating a panicked smolt), and hold on!