1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for insight

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by DANATTHEROCK, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. Sorry to do this guys, but I am in a bit of a pickle. A friend of mine booked a cabin on POW for steelhead in mid April. He saw that a popular river nearby had a cabin reservation cancellation for first week of May. He tipped me off and told me to snatch it up, said it was normally booked for 180 days leading up to these dates. The USFS cabin was open for the week so I booked it. My wife, Karta, and I will be there trying for steelhead and perhaps some cutthroat. About 40 miles north of Ketchikan by sea plane.

    So we are going, that is the good news. The bad news, this was a total impulsive move on my part and I know jack about steelhead. Lived in NW Alaska for a few years, took remote float trips all over NW arctic Alaska for big dollies (14 lbs), floats in SW Alaska, time on the Upper Kenai, etc... But I have never even seen a steelhead I am sad to say. Wondering if anyone would point me in the right direction.

    Any particular books you might recommend? Any basic fly patterns for SE Alaska spring steelhead? Most of what I have found online was geared to great lakes and such. Not sure what to expect on this trip. I am not in need of 5 fish days to have a successful trip. However, it would be nice to catch a few steelhead. I plan to take my Scott S3s 8 wts and my centerpin outfit. Anyone with the time and patience, I would love to hear from you.


    Dan
     
  2. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    First, start by seaching "steelhead", or Alaska Steelhead in the search function

    are you going to swing or nymph....?
     
  3. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Thanks man, I was searching old post. Got a lot of off subject stuff. Bear spray versus guns arguements. Some pics of fish. Things like that. Not much in the way of teaching a tard how to go about actually chasing and catching steelhead. But I will certainly continue to read archived post as there is lots of good info out there I am sure.

    As for gear, I have two Scott S3s 8 wts with matching Ross Evolution reels, SA WF, type III 12' sink tip, and Teeny T-300. I have Cal West Customs Forester 7/8 wt spey conversion 4 piece float rod that is 12.5' long and an Islander Steelheader pinning reel. Also got some Scott A3 7wt 10 footers and Lamson Velocity reels with SA WF, type III sink tip, and Teeny mini sink tip (5').

    Swing or nymph? Don't know. Both. You tell me. Guess it will depend on water clarity/depth/speed. While I don't know what flies I am taking, I will take a good assortment so I can experiment. Hoping to learn something on this trip I can apply to my trip in Sept/Oct in Alaska. I will be on the Kenai for two weeks chasing bows on the Upper, then down on the Anchor for some steelhead in Oct. Hoping after these two trips I will have some of the basics down. Steelhead fisherman are passionate about it, and that is largely what is motivating me.

    I want to find out what the fuss is about:)


    Dan
     
  4. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    I have zero steelhead fly fishing experience, but have caught plenty on a gear rod when I was younger. I would do a search for steelhead flies, and compile a list of ones you see mentioned repeatedly. Then make sure to stock up on them. I would try to track down any fly shops closest to where you are fishing, and give them a call and prod their brain. Maybe they would ship you some of the local favorite flies. By spending some money, even if over the phone, I think you will find them to be quite generous with information.

    Beyond that, the two biggest keys that I have seen w hen encountering steelhead is reading the water, and the right depth. You have to be fishing water where steelhead are present, and you have to get your bait/lure/fly whatever get to whereever the fish are in the water column. It sounds like you have the gear side of things pretty well covered, so perhaps I would focus on reading up about steelhead life cycles, holding water, how they react to certain water temps etc. I would think that would be useful information for someone unfamiliar with the species. If you have fished Alaska rivers for big dollies, salmon, big rainbows etc... then I'm sure the actual act of fishing the rivers for steelhead should not be a great leap in concept for you. Track down some flies, find water that is most likely to hold steelhead, then get the flies down in their face.

    Just my .02, and take it with a grain of salt since like I mentioned I've never cast a fly rod for steelhead. But considering your lack of experience and relative short amount of time to prepare, those are the things I would focus on.

    Nick
     
  5. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Might need to know how big your stream is before you can decide to swing or nymph. a lot of those streams are too small for your pin rod or spey. For best sucess I would nymph egg patters and hot pink/fuschia bunny leeches as well as black and blue leechesand always swing out the end or your drift. There is an article on here titled nymphing for steelhead. read it. Also if it is big enough for spey/pin I would use hot pink leeches and purple , black , and black/blue string leeches. Probably don't need much of a tip for these, a fairly light tip would be fine.
     
  6. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Thanks Rick and Nick. As for the water, from what little intel I can get online, it is small water with lots of logs and debris. Likely 2' deep in many places with deeper holes/runs dependent on spring rains. An intimate sized river by all accounts. Think Situk perhaps, from what very little I know. The fly shop in Ketchikan "Hook Up" is closed down. I did contact the good folks at www.Alaskaflyfishinggoods.com in Juneau and they recommended their Situk Steelhead mixed box of 30 (or so) flies. A bit of everything in it, I will put a link below if anyone cares to view it and give me some feedback on said kits efficacy. Juneau is about as close as I will find for a fly shop I guess. At least one with a great website like the guys at Alaska Flyfishing Goods. Below is the kit...

    http://www.alaskaflyfishinggoods.co...eelhead-Selection/Detailed-product-flyer.html

    [​IMG]
     
  7. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Dana, I found a forum that is simular to this site. it might be helpful. http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/forumdislay.php?f=3
    That fly box looks like a pretty good start, don't forget good raingear.
     
  8. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Thanks for the reply Chris. I frequent that forum. Very active and lots of good folks there. My search for more specific steelhead info brought me here. Tons of info on this forum. I have been reading archived posts for some time. Thanks.

    -Dan
     
  9. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Dan,

    The fly collection in your post above is more than adequate to the task, since most any steelhead flies would do. More important is reading water so that you fish where steelhead are likely to be (if you cannot sight fish to them) and presentation. If this cabin in on the Karta River, take both the 8 wt and small Spey rod. You'll probably have chances to both nymph and swing, so take lines for each style. Your 8 wt type 3 sink tip is a good start, but I recommend that you buy or make a line that you can change tips so you have more choices in sinking speed. In addition to the type 3, buy a type 6 and 8 in about 15' length, and you'll be set.

    Read what you can about making a good presentation, but my observation is that books and articles don't convey that key info very well.

    Sg
     
  10. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Give Dan Hardy a call at drays guide service, you will have a quality time and Dan will put you on fish. Make sure your reels and lines are in great shape, and have spares. Have a great time and let me know how you did, Take Care. Rcik
     
  11. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Those purple buggy ones look dandy. Might see if they have them in blue or black. A buddy of mine had some vicious takes on those little guys. Always have extras, you can lose a lot of flys in a couple days of fishing. And it will be the one they are bitting, Murphy's law.

    Also, Take some different colors of yarn and leaders. Just your small basic yarn fly can be the ticket.

    Take your time too. Those small rivers have a ton of small water where fish will hold that you wouldn't expect them to. I've pushed too many fish cause I was in a rush. What can I say, I get kind of excited and lose focus sometimes when it comes to steelhead.

    Got any beads?

    Al
     
  12. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Hi Dan, your flybox looks to be sufficient. I haven't fished POW in over 13 years. But I know that the river 40 miles by air from Ketchikan holds large steelhead. The river has extensive boardwalk trails from the bay to the lakes. I would go small and bright, with some ESL's and muddlers.I hope this helps.

    D Ray
     
  13. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Ummm. flashy box but I would simplify it even more. seriously all you need are yarnies, globugs/beads, ESL/string leech in pink,fuschia,purple,black, and black/blue. You could even get away with just a floater and a couple poly leaders is all. The boardwalk was a give away. Small water. leave the pin rod and spey. bring two single hand setups and fish like the log jams, hard to land there but fish them anyways. I will be nearby on the other side of the pond. If you see an aluminum and maroon 36' maxweld towing a sled flag me down.

    Good luck.

    Rick
     
  14. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Thanks again Rick. Just the kind of info I so desperately need. I will be sure to PM you a link to pictures upon our return. Hopefully of me with a handful of steel:)
     
  15. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Last year I got an education on the Situk. A few of us fly guys were schooled by float and jig fishermen. Smaller was better, and the fish were holding in Coho dead water spots as well as traditional lies. I fished around my hat, and ended up catching fish on small princes and a san juan worm. Stones were good to me as well. I didn't hit squat on any trad colorful leech patterns...
     
  16. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Thanks man. I ordered my flies just now from www.alaskaflyfishinggoods.com Awesome website and fly shop in Juneau. These guys sell the best flies I have bought for Alaska. I got some Sitkah Princes, Money bugs, various globugs (rodmans, orange, etc..) and other smaller offerings. I got a few large gaudy patterns, but lots of smaller stuff. Thanks for the suggestion.

    -Dan
     
  17. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    Dan,

    I have fished POW for 3 years in late April / early May. Success has to do with water levels which can fluctuate greatly in a rain forest.

    We have used nymphing systems - Amnesia butts with 2x tippet and beadhead chartruese glow bugs. Vary tippet length for stream depth.

    Bears have never been a problem. We have seen black bears but they have always been running the other direction. I do not believe there are brown bears on POW.

    Depending upon your transportation and snow level, I would hit Harris, Klawock, Thorne and Staney Rivers.

    Have a good rain jacket and plan on bush whacking if you want to see much of these streams.

    Tight lines,

    Fish pimp
     
  18. 1st trip to SE Alaska in early May, never caught steelhead before, hoping for ins

    For info I'd get a hold of juneau flyfishing goods and talk with brad. They are a great resource with state wide knowledge.
     

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