Montana Cr., Upper Willow Cr., Russian River, AK

Spent a few days fishing with my dad after guiding a mckinley climb from July 4-7. Upon leaving AK, i really wish i had more time there and in the Kenai area. Besides fishing with my dad in AK, the other best memory was my dad learning to fly fish. I brought a 5 and 6 wt with me and taught him to nymph fish. he was enjoying the learning curve when he caught his first fish, an artic grayling, which changed his life. It was great hearing him talk about using my old set-ups at home to fish with.

the first creek fished in the Susitna Valley drainage was fun, but nothing to write home about - we hit it on july 4 and it was over run with campers and atv-ers that love tromping through the creek. The second, further south was fun pool drop water - class III/IV whitewater. the big pools produced numerous artic grayling and some nice rainbows. The russian was off the hook - the best rainbow fishing i have ever experienced - just about every other or every third cast we were hooking into fish from 10 - 20 inches. it was an easy hike to approach the upper stretches and we fished down stream for the entire day. even saw two brown bears feeding on the sockeye. tons of eagles...just an amazing river to fish. the upper stretches see way less pressure due to restrictions on salmon fishing.

I highly suggest if you ever get to AK to fish, a do it yourself trip is way easy and the way to go if you have experience fly fishing already. every fly shop/fishing shop we went into people poured on the information. i took it with a grain of salt, but was surprised when most of the information was true. i guess when the fishing is so good and plentiful there is no need to hold back information...or maybe AK is just filled with nice folks.

Tight Lines,

David, when I lived on the Kenai, from 1976 to '86, we had a saying;"Alaska is as America was". It's true, they are nice, as long as you say please, thanks and don't be an "ugly" tourist (the Texans who complain about everything). You helped your neighbor, he helped you and you got through it.
there's plenty of good spots that everyone knows, but alaskans do have their secrets just like everywhere else. i used to fish a little creek each fall that was just full of rainbows 12-16 inches and every year i got at least one 20"er out of there. the area i fished was all in plain veiw of the sterling hwy and even ran under it with the best holes just above and below the culvert (not to mention the one under the hwy. no one much fished it and there was a trick to getting past all the 3 inch trout and hooking the larger ones. cars went on by with most figuring it wasn't worth fishing. I wore camo and usually dropped my rod tip as cars passed so as not to be too obvious as i racked up 30-40 fish days consistently. that creek was empty of fish until late august when rainbows started following the salmon up out of the lakes below. other spots that are accessible from the road like the upper ninilchik are not discussed much even among alaskans but also protected by lots of bushwacking and a healthy bear population. did you fish the russian above the falls? that has always been good for rainbows. the lower russian near the campgrounds was really depleted of rainbows back in the 80's until regulations allowed the population to rebound. you can see there's enough food to support incredible #'s of rainbows and dollies if they are not overharvested.
did you fish the russian above the falls? that has always been good for rainbows.

hey tony,
we did fish above the falls and it was fantastic. we attempted to hike to the further stretches beyond the lake, but gave it up as it was later in the day. what a beautiful place!


Active Member
Thanks for the report.
Went to the same area you fished last Sept and had a great time. And Tony Mull was a great help in providing info. I found the locals up in Alaska to be very willing to share info and were very friendly. I enjoyed my time up there and will returning again this year.
I fished the "middle Russian" once very foolishly by myself in the late summer. Head high and taller grass with many "trails" running through it, some leading to the river and some not. I had borrowed my buddies pistol. I have seldom if ever have been so scared for so long. Fishing was great but miserable. Several times during that day I had bears come moving through the grass near me, usually moving off when the smelled me but sometimes just stopping till i retreated or just ignoring me. a couple of times i stumbled on salmon carcasses and once the tracks indicated a sow with cubs. That marked the end of the expedition for me. Nothing like watching that grass move and knowing a bear will be oh two or three feet away before you see it to tighten the old spincter. I spent about as much time gripping that .357 as I did my flyrod.

One other time when i was even greener I hiked up the river, climbed up the bluff at the falls and planned to wait out the two or so hours of darkness and start fishing at dawn. I belatedly built a tiny fire and sat by it for those hours as a bruin(s) stumbled around in the brush no doubt trying to find a path around me in order to get to the pool just at the top of the falls. I was rewarding with some excellent rainbow action just about sun up and a close encounter with a magnificent bull moose. Then I first noticed the little camping area and a couple of tents. by 6 am I was back to my old car and on the road to Anchorage as I had to work that afternoon.

Looking back I was very stupid in those days, but probably no more so that most alaskans. They do have an accidental death rate that's 7 times the national average, in fact accidents are the leading cause of death up there.