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About Ard

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Date of Birth
November 8, 1954 (65)
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.

Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors


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Recent Entries

The Day of The Owl;

by Ard on 03-25-2020 at 11:54 PM
I took these off the forum thread so I'd know where they are, if you don't read the What's In Your Yard thread that is where they were originally posted

Quote Originally Posted by Ard View Post
This one sat right where you see it for 1 hour and ten minutes before it left.

He or she had a squirrel pinned in one of the spruce trees but..... Eventually the squirrel approached and gave the owl hell for sitting there.

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Tough on Moose, Tough on Men

by Ard on 03-08-2020 at 05:45 PM
For the past 8 winters I've been faced with ever worsening conditions. Not enough snow has been a continuing theme and if it did snow it did so with the temps at or above 32 degrees. Our winters have been warm and dry from here at home all the way to the cabin at the lake some 115 miles away in the Interior. Snows were often followed by rain which created either icy travel (snowmachine) or water overflow on the rivers which is downright awful.

Since late December things have not only

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Updated 03-10-2020 at 11:34 AM by Ard


Moving Toward Spring Now;

by Ard on 02-09-2020 at 02:26 PM
I'm procrastinating right now. We finally had cold weather for almost 5 weeks and there is more snow out at the cabin than I need for access. The deeper it is the harder the trip. What I must do is to drive to a bulk fuel depot and fill 3 drums with gasoline and then take them 37 miles to Willow AK. where they will be loaded onto my freight sled for transport to the cabin. I don't know whether I want to make the run on Monday (tomorrow) or later in the week but I have to do it soon. Last year I

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I May Have It All Wrong but............

by Ard on 02-07-2020 at 12:49 PM
I was browsing Spey Pages a month or 2 ago and spotted a post from a fellow who has bought rods from me, the post was about flooding this winter.

Then just today on our "What's In Your Yard" thread I saw posts, one with a picture of deep snow and another showing a rain gauge registering 5" in front of a members home.

The rain gauge reminded me of what I replied on the fellows thread about flooding conditions so I went and copied it and here it is.

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A Trip to the Cabin January - February 3rd 2020

by Ard on 02-04-2020 at 02:42 PM
Last Thursday we got some supplies around and then left for the trip to the cabin on the lake. The trip involves hauling a couple Skidoo snowmachines from home to the launch site some 37 miles from home. From there you unload and then drive for 74.6 miles over 3 different frozen rivers, islands and finally a 8 1/2 mile course across land. Generally the river portion of the trip is uneventful because they are the main artery of supply and travel into the Interior. These are the rivers that races

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