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About Me

  • About Hardyreels
    My real name is Ard Stetts, because it's a small world you may either know me or we've fished the same rivers & creeks at some time in our lives.

    I was born in 1954 at Williamsport Pennsylvania. I began fishing in the sixties and was fascinated by the television program “The American Sportsman”. This program often featured Lee Wulff and Curt Gowdy fly fishing all over North America. My young mind was indelibly etched with images of Pacific Silver salmon cartwheeling through the air when they were hooked by a fly. At my young age I could not really conceive of exactly how far I was from Alaska where that show had been taped but I knew I wanted to go. Fishing was a fascination, a dream and I had rather humble beginnings at it. I started fishing when I was eight years old in the West Branch of The Susquehanna River with a throw line and used stones as sinkers with red worms for bait. A throw line (if you’ve never seen one used) works along the same principal as the sling that David used on Goliath. The difference is that the axis of the spinning rock is on a vertical plane and the stone has a fishing line attached. By the time I was twelve I owned a spin casting rod and reel. My father was an amateur naturalist and a Geology buff but not a fisherman. After I was confirmed by our local YMCA as a 'Shark' in the swimming classes I was permitted to join my neighborhood friend and his Father on a trip to a trout stream. I caught a stocked Rainbow on my first cast, and like that fish I was hooked.

    By the time I turned fourteen I had a fly tying kit and a 1968 entry level Ike Walton solid fiberglass rod & South Bend #1200 reel with level line. My Father had passed away and fishing time had become even more important for me. My sister’s employer, C.W. ‘Bill’ O’Connor, a prominent angler, and the owner of “E. Hillie’s Angler’s Supply House” of Williamsport Pa. became my fly tying mentor. It is to him that I owe my tying skills. Bill taught me how to create a good wing whether it were quill for a dry fly, saddle feathers for a streamer, or marrying swan, turkey, and pheasant for the wing of a classic Salmon fly. He always had time for me. It was from him that I learned how to select the best when I was shopping for materials for tying. I enjoyed tying feather wing streamers because they set me apart from anyone I knew. Other fishermen I came to know avoided them as being too difficult to tie. They acknowledged that streamers were said to be quite effective but most didn’t tie any. I eventually adopted the streamer as more than a “default fly” to use when other means of catching fish failed. I made streamer fishing my primary plan and only changed strategy when the rising fish made it obvious that dry fly fishing was certainly at hand. My success with the “Big Wets” has been great and I continue tying and fishing them even here in Alaska where I catch Trout, Char, Grayling and Pacific Silver Salmon on them.

    Like my childhood inspiration the late Mr. Wulff, I have traveled and fished from the far northwest shores of Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains and finally here to Alaska. I have spent a lifetime fishing, floating, and walking beside the waters of this continent. I don't quote many people but John Denver could have been talking about being alone on a river when he wrote; "You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply".
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
    Outdoor Activities; fly tying, photography, cross country sking, snowshoing, motor cycling, etc.
    Licenced professional fly / Spey fishing guide and outfitter.
  • Signature
    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard

    The Alaska Fishing & Outdoors Blog;


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Latest Blog Entry

Posted 06-19-2016 at 04:22 PM by Hardyreels Comments 2
Posted in Uncategorized
It's been almost 3 weeks since I hauled my pressure washer out to the cabin for a cleaning of the building. Things get dirty even though it's way off the road system. There is dirt and mildew because of the lake and rains so every 4 years I clean and maintain the exterior.

Things were going normal until the water pump on the pressure washer seized up, done, need new......... So I came home, ordered a new pump which arrived but is not the correct pump but that's another story huh?...

Posted 06-18-2016 at 08:07 PM by Hardyreels Comments 3
Posted in Uncategorized
It never seems to be finished does it? There are a lot of king salmon in right now but there are also a lot of people out trying to catch them. That is my excuse for not fishing for them myself, that and the fact I've caught my share and set priorities properly sometimes.

This past winter I hauled out lumber to build a good extension for my boat dock and last week I set about building it. I went out on Friday June 10th I think it was and came home last night so a seven day stay....

Posted 06-18-2016 at 08:01 PM by Hardyreels Comments 5
Posted in Uncategorized
Wind is a big deal out there and it can easily hit 40 mph coming down the lake from the Northwest. This means waves and pretty big ones too, in the past years the waves have torn to dock lose and drove it onto shore. So I'm trying to get things anchored better this time around.

I fixed 2 1/2" pipes to the walkway with 5/8" bolts and then pounded 6 foot 1 1/2 inch steel pipes down into the lake bed hoping to both anchor and to provide a means to accommodate rises and falls...

Posted 04-03-2016 at 06:14 PM by Hardyreels Comments 0
Posted in Uncategorized
I jumped right in and started writing, wouldn't you know it, the original poster never came back to say any more. I shouldn't let that bother me and in reality it does not but I hate to write something that seems meaningful only to see it lost / buried in the inactive threads here.

Sooner or later someone else will ask the same question so I'll stash this here where I can find it

A good roll cast is executed in the same way that a good Spey cast is done but without...

Posted 03-17-2016 at 06:21 PM by Hardyreels Comments 0
Posted in Uncategorized
This post is just an attempt to share with those who read these entries as to what it is that I'm doing during winter. These past 3 winters have been warmer than even the 3 before them. Along with the warmer conditions there has been less snowfall with each progressing year. When you see pictures of the cabin try to remember that the snow you see piled around the sides is that which fell from the roof and so appears to be deep. Actually there is about 2.5 feet of compacted frozen snow on the ground...
Recent Comments
I try to write things...
Posted 08-21-2016 at 01:00 PM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is offline
Your story is inspirational....
Posted 08-20-2016 at 11:25 AM by brook rookie brook rookie is offline
This last run out there...
Posted 06-29-2016 at 08:16 PM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is offline
The trees were cut in...
Posted 06-24-2016 at 08:01 PM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is offline
Very cool Ard. How...
Posted 06-20-2016 at 11:44 AM by dharkin dharkin is offline

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