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Attempting Alaska On The Fly – Rainbow Trout In Bristol Bay


Author: ScottRoseFishing

Alaska Fly Fishing Lodge

I have put two seasons in Alaska at the Royal Wolf Lodge chasing one of the most beautiful fish in freshwater – the rainbow trout.  When most people think of trout, they think of stocked fish in their local creek or lake. These fish might be the same species but the similarities end there; they are epically shaped, packed with muscle, and have the ability to bring your 8 Wt into the backing three or four times. To me, these are the most impressive trout that you will find anywhere alone.

They have a diet that allows them to pack on such epic strength and proportions – in the springtime, they feed nearly exclusively on smolt, which are juvenile salmon trying to sneak past all the predators and make their way into the ocean.  When the adults return and spawn in the summer, the rainbows shift their sights to the eggs, which flow down the rivers in the millions.  It is an assembly line of food for these trout, and their body shape reflects it.

I recently had a couple close friends visit me at the lodge, Jon Barzacchini and Lawson Lindsey – two YouTubers that both had never experienced trout fishing like my lodge can offer.  Jon was admittedly very skeptical when I told him to bring his 8 Wt. and make sure that it was backed with at least 100 yds of 20 Lb Bullbuster Braid. Understandably, he had a hard time believing that these fish would get you into the backing so easily.  It was a good thing he listened, because the first fish of the trip went 27” – a monster trout that took over 15 minutes to land and kept him in the backing for at least half of the fight.  Several more fish in the 23-25 inch class followed that day, and he was quickly convinced of what I was trying to tell him.

Bristol Bay offers native trout in a class that you’d be hard matched to find an equal for anywhere else.   The numbers of fish are exceptional, with days of 40 fish averaging 19-22” common. You can’t land much more than that, because 40-50 of those guys will take a full day to fight and land!!

I fish 6 Wts at a minimum when targeting these larger trout, while sometimes upping it to 7 and 8 wts and occasionally a two handed spey rod (I prefer a 12’6” 6 Wt).  On every reel I spool 150 yds of 20lb Bullbuster braid – I like to use yellow to see where my backing is making its way to in the water. One time I almost lost all 150 Yds to an extremely epic trout that wouldn’t stop running!

Flies are dictated by the time of the season – early season calls for streamers when the smolt are moving.  After this slows down, it’s a full month of dry fly fishing, followed by the spawn which leads to a lot of indicator style nymphing. This final time is usually when you land the biggest trout of the summer.

Alaska is one of my favorite places to fish and guide and will always hold an extremely special place in my heart.  I could write 20 articles on this area before feeling like I was beginning to scratch the surface of all the topics I could talk about.  

Thanks for reading and if you have any interest in making your own trip to Bristol Bay, just send me an email at scottsfishtails@gmail.com

Tight lines,

Capt. Scott Rose



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