Bugs, flies, and other insects
Being relatively new to Alaska I'm wondering what bugs, flies, and other insects are on the menu for the fish of Alaska?
I have searched the interwebs, just not getting any useful info. Probably due to my lack of knowledge of anything to due with the science of bugs and such. I also realize that we have a thread for patterns that work well, but I think a list of what's here would be helpful for people like me. Ones that like to study, and make our own patterns of locally available "fish food". It would also help us be able to identify what we are seeing, and make more intelligent choices towards what to tie on next, other than running back to the fly shop. I don't know if it would also be helpful or necessary to break it down by regions, if there are many differences.
Obviously there are mosquitos, gnats, and no-see-ums. Beyond that I'm lost.
Re: Bugs, flies, and other insects
Up your way (Fairbanks) I don't have any time on the streams & rivers but........... down here in the MatSu there are a few. Every year I see May Flies & Caddis but the problem is that there are no concentrated hatches that I could count on. We also have an assortment of Stone Fillies on some creeks but again, you can't plan on running into a hatch. With the unpredictable weather here in the valley the bugs are scarce. Every now and then I run into a day when there are so many May Flies or etc. on the water that the fish key in on them. The rest of the time 99.9% I am fishing streamers and wet flies / salmon & steelhead patterns. This is a good time to learn how to fish streamers for you.
Remember, you folks have warmer weather up there and you will have opportunities but I would be thinking streamers. For a survival pack of dries I carry.............
Little Blue Quill #18
Adams #12 - 14 - 16
Royal Wulff #10 & 12
Elk Hair Caddis # 12 - 16
Brown Stone #14 - 16
Generally it is Grayling & Char that will be surface feeding down here and not the big ones. When I see feeding going on I tend to switch to a Whitlock Sculpin or Ard's Nine Three and start swinging it into the area from well above the feeding fish and work my way down through the area. if there's a big one hanging in there I sometimes get it.
Re: Bugs, flies, and other insects
I've got to back up Ard on this one...
Although we have a "HEALTHY" bug population (just wait till you see the skeeters in western AK in late Aug-early Sept), the feeding going on in our river systems is mainly sub-surface. In my (admittedly) limited experience, the only fish I have caught on a dry is a copious amount of grayling with the exception of one suicidal coho. On the other hand, swinging streamers will produce for you on nearly any river system that I have had the opportunity to wet a line in. In the Fairbanks/North Pole area try a McNally Magnum or the infamous ***** Creek (opposite ends of the size spectrum) for everything from NP to grayling, char and Lake Trout in the lake inlets and outfalls.
In closing, I would definitely keep a handful of elk's hair caddis and wulff/royal wulff handy for those endearing grayling streams that seem to pop up with alarming regularity.
Best of luck and let us know how your season goes... we're a little short on regular contributers here in the AK section (and yes, I could pitch in more as well.)
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