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About Ard

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Date of Birth
November 8, 1954 (64)
About Ard
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 became fascinated by the television program “The American Sportsman” when it came into being. This program often featured Lee Wulff and Curt Gowdy fly fishing all over North America. My young mind was indelibly etched with images of Atlantic and 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 or Newfoundland where those shows 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.


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
Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors


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Recent Entries

King Salmon Research on the river;

by Ard on 06-05-2019 at 05:53 PM
While you were sorely missing me here I was away to the cabin doing the essential spring cleaning and land maintenance for a few days

With a couple long days of cutting, more cutting, vacuuming and dock anchoring under my belt I wearily climbed into the ATEC for the long drive back to the boat launch. Other than the shear number of spruce trees down in the creek that connects the cabin on the lake to the river the 4 1/2 mile drive out the creek was uneventful. The usual suspects

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Me, Lucky? I don't think so...

by Ard on 05-16-2019 at 10:56 PM
I prefer the word fortunate.

This writing gets into a lot more than my comments regarding luck in fishing so if you read on you may find some interesting facts previously unknown...

I saw the thread started by Rich (Rangerrich99) asking whether we think luck plays a part in our fishing. I could not bring myself to say anything publicly on an open thread so since this is my private forum I'll tell you what I think here.

First I'll share a well guarded expression

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Updated 05-17-2019 at 03:28 PM by Ard


The Traveling Ardster......

by Ard on 04-23-2019 at 03:09 AM
With winter finally arriving in April I'm feeling the void really strong right now. I haven't been out on a river fishing since October of 2018 . The nearest I've come was a couple weeks back doing some casting instruction, imagine that 2 weeks ago the ice was gone and I had people learning to cast! Now there have been nightly snow storms with daily melt off's and a mix of high winds just to make things nice. So what are you gonna do? I started thinking of somewhere where maybe, just maybe I could

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Fishing a Streamer Deep;

by Ard on 04-15-2019 at 02:29 PM
Some questions have been raised regarding how one can attain significant depth when employing my rather unique approach to sinking flies. One specific question regarded fishing for King Salmon in the Columbia River in deep water. While you may not be fishing the Columbia River this spring, the technique I am about to describe will work for deep water conditions from Maine to Washington State. That's a pretty confident thing to say but I'll leave it to you.

If you are already experimenting

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Updated 04-15-2019 at 03:49 PM by Ard


The End of Something Good;

by Ard on 04-10-2019 at 03:41 PM
I'll get around to writing and will provide many a picture of my friend as we shared boats - rivers - creeks and camps for almost 14 years.

On March 25 of this year 2019 I had to say goodby to my friend & constant companion Boss.

South Plains and Looking . . .-12606.jpg

I've spent 44 years of my life in the company of canines and Boss was the smartest most loyal I've ever known. From standing down a large brown bear to simple quiet days and nights camping along

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