Fly & Tenkara, Freshwater

Guest post: What to Expect Fly Fishing in Alaska: It Isn’t Australia, But That’s OK

It might seem like we’re pretty far north of Australia. Flip that over, and it looks like Australia sets pretty far south of Alaska. Still, we have a lot in common stretching across those 7,400 miles. Both our homes give way to incredible backcountry, and fly fishermen all over the globe daydream about a chance to cast into our waters.

That’s not bragging. Both Australia and Alaska have well-deserved reputations as destinations that make every trout bum’s heart skip a beat. We need to start a sports-oriented cultural exchange, so please accept our open invitation. We want you to come fly fishing up here in Alaska.

Get Ready Ahead of Time

Just like your Department of Fisheries, our Alaska Department of Fish and Game makes it easy to get everything in order ahead of your trip. The pricing is comparable to what you’re used to, and you can buy licenses online. We really recommend ADFG’s website for the latest information covering all our lake, river and bay fishing.

We also recommend connecting with an outfit that specializes in fly fishing. Options range from high-end Alaska fishing lodges with hot tubs to roughing-it adventures in tents with sleeping bags. Mid-range or luxury class, guided trips come with an important advantage: You’re not traveling across 660,000 square miles of rugged wilderness alone.

Don’t Pack a Parka

Do you like the idea of casting to a rise when there’s hardly a breeze and the temperature’s holding in the mid-80s? Welcome to summer fly fishing in Alaska. From the ice-out in May until the end of September, we enjoy some of the nicest weather on earth. Don’t pack a parka unless you want to get in a little winter ice fishing. It would just take up space you can put to better use for:

• Your favourite pair of waders as long as they don’t have felt soles.
• A good quick-release tool for saving time.
• Dual-layer outer mesh landing gloves for saving fish.
• A water-proof camera for capturing bald eagles in flight.
• Heated boot and wader insoles, just in case.

Perfect Your Presentation Anywhere

One of our favourite things that surprises folks new to fly fishing in Alaska concerns public access to our rivers and lakes. By state law, we have a constitutional right to fish where we like. That doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to trample private property, but you can respectfully cross it on your way to a favourite trout stream. It helps that we have more than 3,000 rivers and 3 million lakes, and the vast majority of that acreage belongs to the state.

We don’t get in as much salt fishing as you folks enjoy, but we make up for it with ancient lakes and major river systems set deep in untouched wild country. You can stalk Kenai River trout in the shadows of the Chugach Mountains and chase salmon in the Kvichak River between Lake Iliamna and Bristol Bay. Depending on the season, you can cast to chinook, sockeye and silvers or perfect your presentation to steelhead, rainbows and dolly varden. Best of all, you get to do it every day in one of the most beautiful, rugged settings on the planet.

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Sharing the Last Frontier

Don’t think for a minute that we don’t fantasize about fly fishing down your way. We’re really impressed that the Australian Coast offers more than 84,000 miles of shoreline. We daydream about stalking brownies on Lake Jindabyne or Blue Rock Lake. It’s easy to imagine how much you love your home fishing grounds. We feel the same way about No See Um Lodge here on the Kvichak riverbanks.

When you get a chance, come visit our state, and chase some fish. Whether you go it alone or hook up for a guided trip, there’s nothing quite like your first fly fishing adventure in Alaska. Our natives are friendly and always enjoy sharing the Last Frontier. If you’ll forgive our accents, we even speak a little Australian. We look forward to greeting you with a hearty handshake and our own version of “G’day.”

By Jon from Noseeumlodge

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