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About Me

  • About Hardyreels
    Biography
    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".
    Location
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
    Interests
    Outdoor Activities; fly tying, photography, cross country sking, snowshoing, motor cycling, etc.
    Occupation
    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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Activities 12-28-2014
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12-27-2014
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12-26-2014
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12-24-2014
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Blog

Latest Blog Entry

Posted 10-12-2014 at 04:40 PM by Hardyreels Comments 8
Posted in Uncategorized
I see the occasional thread on the forum started by someone who is eager to get into the guide thing. I don't reply on the open forum because my experiences may not be mainstream with the lower 48.

How I got into this may surprise you, there were 2 influences on the decision. First came many people who suggested that I should write a book about fishing. Seriously, there were many people who read threads and stories in this blog that said "if you write one I'll buy one"....

Posted 06-21-2014 at 04:53 PM by Hardyreels Comments 9
Posted in Uncategorized
I must admit that the fish guide business is demanding to say the least. I have spent every day this past week trying hard to get salmon onto the flies of people fishing with me. The days are starting with an alarm going off at 2:30 AM and I am returning home at 8 or 9 in the evenings. This is as close as I have came to having a time clock to answer to since 1988 and it is proving to be demanding work.

I was thinking back on all the posts I've seen from people who are determined to...

Posted 06-05-2014 at 11:55 PM by Hardyreels Comments 3
Posted in Uncategorized
I've been at the lake most of the past 2 weeks and although I took some time to go up to the Talachulitna to fish for trout and did some exploring on the Yentna River.......... I finally finished the second floor ceiling and sheeted the gable walls in the cabin.


On the front end of the building I had built a bridge to extend the loft to reach the large gable windows....

Posted 01-05-2014 at 11:56 PM by Hardyreels Comments 3
Posted in Uncategorized
Since some of our members have expressed interest in both streamer fishing and perhaps hearing more of what I have to say about my own experiences I looked up another piece that may be helpful. The following was written a few years ago and is about fishing streamers on some of Pennsylvania's spring and freestone creeks.

Although you can do a lot of searching with a streamer fly and sometimes even find a willing fish; it pays to have a plan when using these big wet flies.
...

Posted 01-05-2014 at 11:55 PM by Hardyreels Comments 5
Posted in Uncategorized
This relates back to the time spent studying how your fly reacts to your line manipulations. Having this kind of knowledge is really important if you want to catch fish because you know how. We all catch fish by accident sometimes regardless of what we know. What I am telling you is simple and it is true. After you have finished reading this you will know that it made sense. Nothing looks more like food to a brown trout than a well tied feather wing streamer when properly handled. The practice exercise...
Recent Comments
Great insight Ard. Like...
Posted 11-18-2014 at 03:02 PM by markg52 markg52 is offline
I'm glad if these things...
Posted 11-03-2014 at 05:49 PM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is online now
I should probably go...
Posted 11-03-2014 at 05:41 PM by Hardyreels Hardyreels is online now
good read.
Posted 11-02-2014 at 04:05 PM by cochise cochise is online now
Ard: Excellent tips...
Posted 11-02-2014 at 01:22 PM by mcnerney mcnerney is online now












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