gellfex

Advice for beginner flyfisher spending the summer in Alaska?

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He's going to be a long way from the ocean and the Manauska is full of glacial silt so salmon will probably be off the agenda. Most of the fishing in that area will be on smaller creeks or lakes, fishing for grayling and trout. That 5/6 will probably do just fine, that's what I've used in AK. 

Bring goid rain gear.

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16 mins ago, 2hands4steel said:

He's going to be a long way from the ocean and the Manauska is full of glacial silt so salmon will probably be off the agenda. Most of the fishing in that area will be on smaller creeks or lakes, fishing for grayling and trout. That 5/6 will probably do just fine, that's what I've used in AK. 

Bring goid rain gear.

Huh. Good info. There's some creeks nearby, but not as close as the river.  Hopefully he'll get some intel soon from the staff.

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I have a son who is also really big into climbing. He'll fish with me on occasion and he enjoys it but I pretty much act as a guide when we go. If my son were really into fly fishing I wouldn't have to act as a guide, he'd WANT to put the time into learning about fly fishing. Climbing and surfing are his passions and he puts in the hours to learn and persue what he loves to do.

I think most people who fly fish just know early on, when they're exposed to it that that's what they want to do. 

 

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16 hours ago, gellfex said:

Cman: I think the problem with picking up gear there is he's going to have little time and transport to do it. They're going to pick him up at the airport and take him 2 hrs into the back country.

Graveyard: that's a generous offer, but same thing, he won't have a vehicle and unless someone takes him will fish where he can walk to from their base.

Titleguy: Any way to bring that down? Used? I saw on craigslist that waders can be had for around $50, so that seems doable. If I spend a lot, he'll get pissed that I'm committing him to it!

Gflex-  $200.00 for a rod/reel/backing line combo is very reasonable.  If you buy the 8 wt and he doesn't use, you have a striper set up.  You can find waders for short money also.

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13 hours ago, Phil K said:

I have a son who is also really big into climbing. He'll fish with me on occasion and he enjoys it but I pretty much act as a guide when we go. If my son were really into fly fishing I wouldn't have to act as a guide, he'd WANT to put the time into learning about fly fishing. Climbing and surfing are his passions and he puts in the hours to learn and persue what he loves to do.

I think most people who fly fish just know early on, when they're exposed to it that that's what they want to do. 

 

All you say is true, I act as a guide for my kid also. But 2 years ago an interesting thing happened. He went canoeing in the Boundary Waters with his scout troop, and even though, despite my encouragement, he didn't bring tackle, the outfitters had some gear to lend and they took it. No one else really had a clue, but he reached into his years of fishing with me and pulled out the knowledge he didn't know he had. With the crappy rod and a few random lures they caught walleye and pike and had a great time!  But these kids only have so much focus, and right now it's on climbing, he even sold his skis because he was ice climbing all winter and not skiing.  

 

That said, when I sent him the satellite pic of how close the camp was to the river, he said it sounded exciting, and a good idea since he's going to be there 4 months. He's going to contact the people there and see what intel he can gather on local fishing.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

His best bet it to backcountry hike into that lake to the north.  Its not an easy walk.  There are fish there.  Probably better off with a spinning rod unless he is going to carry in a packraft like I would if I was fly fishing.  The river can be tough its muddy and not easy to read.  If he is limited to on foot that lake is his best option.  

 

I am pretty sure you can drive to it too, but that road is a longer walk than straight there.  However its probably the easiest way to get to the lake.

Edited by The Graveyard Shift

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Posted (edited) · Report post

53 mins ago, The Graveyard Shift said:

His best bet it to backcountry hike into that lake to the north.  Its not an easy walk.  There are fish there.  Probably better off with a spinning rod unless he is going to carry in a packraft like I would if I was fly fishing.  The river can be tough its muddy and not easy to read.  If he is limited to on foot that lake is his best option.  

 

I am pretty sure you can drive to it too, but that road is a longer walk than straight there.  However its probably the easiest way to get to the lake.

Good advice, a 1/2 mi hike like that is nothing to him. He hikes the 3500' climb to the top of Mt Mansfield like once a week for chuckles, sometimes in the dark!  He has a backpacker spinning outfit, and I have a really old steel guide and ferrule convertible spinner/fly backpacker I picked up used in the Sierras decades ago. Could be that's a good choice.

Edited by gellfex

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2 hours ago, gellfex said:

Good advice, a 1/2 mi hike like that is nothing to him. He hikes the 3500' climb to the top of Mt Mansfield like once a week for chuckles, sometimes in the dark!  He has a backpacker spinning outfit, and I have a really old steel guide and ferrule convertible spinner/fly backpacker I picked up used in the Sierras decades ago. Could be that's a good choice.

Have him talk to locals for more info.  Tell him not to under estimate Alaska.  You can be one mile from a road and if something goes wrong no one will find you.  Normal risks he would take in Vermont are not worth taking up there.  

 

Bear training and moose training is very important.  Its not a matter of if its a matter of when an encounter will occur.  Knowing what to do keeps it from becoming a bad experience.

 

Buying MEDIVaC insurnace and a Spot emergency sattelite communication device are critical if hitting backcountry alone.  I never got in trouble because I was careful.  But I had to use my SPOT to assist two rafters I found trapped out there 15 miles from any road who had lost their raft and all gear in an eddy line.  The SPOT and insurnace is relatively inexpensive an emergency extraction starts at $60,000 and gets more expensive from there.

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8 mins ago, The Graveyard Shift said:

Have him talk to locals for more info.  Tell him not to under estimate Alaska.  You can be one mile from a road and if something goes wrong no one will find you.  Normal risks he would take in Vermont are not worth taking up there.  

Did I mention he's an Eagle Scout, a certified Single Pitch rock climbing instructor, a certified ice climbing instructor, a certified Wilderness 1st Responder, spent last summer guiding Scout groups up 14k' peaks in Colorado and is an all around badass Mountain Man? For chuckles over Christmas break he and 2 buddies snowshoed dragging a gear sled 10 miles into the roadless gorge below Mt Marcy in the Adirondacks to camp and ice climb for 4 days.  No, I'm not worried about him taking a little hike in Alaska.  He's not that fool in "Into the Wild". That book made me so angry, idealizing a young adult experiencing the onset of bipolar psychosis into some kind of 'free spirit'.

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25 mins ago, gellfex said:

Did I mention he's an Eagle Scout, a certified Single Pitch rock climbing instructor, a certified ice climbing instructor, a certified Wilderness 1st Responder, spent last summer guiding Scout groups up 14k' peaks in Colorado and is an all around badass Mountain Man? For chuckles over Christmas break he and 2 buddies snowshoed dragging a gear sled 10 miles into the roadless gorge below Mt Marcy in the Adirondacks to camp and ice climb for 4 days.  No, I'm not worried about him taking a little hike in Alaska.  He's not that fool in "Into the Wild". That book made me so angry, idealizing a young adult experiencing the onset of bipolar psychosis into some kind of 'free spirit'.

That is great.  Get the SPOT and insurnance.  No one is perfect.  My friend Tim did much harder stuff for 21 years up there.  Tim got over confident and he is dead.  

 

I am not say dont do things.  But for example if he would rate a climb a certain difficult in NH or VT he should add a 50% additional difficulty factor until he has been there a full season.  I ran rivers if it was rater class 3 I upgraded it to a 4.  I approached it with that mindset scouting things normally I would have just run in a lower 48 river.  It save my life several times where the entire river was blocked by a giant strainer.  There are no accurate reports things are always changing.  Over confidence kills.  

 

I put a friend in the ground over pride.  As a Dad myself I emplore you to make sure you son takes this seriously it could keep him alive.

Edited by The Graveyard Shift

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6 mins ago, The Graveyard Shift said:

am not say dont do things.  But for example if he would rate a climb a certain difficult in NH or VT he should add a 50% additional difficulty factor until he has been there a full season.  I ran rivers if it was rater class 3 I upgraded it to a 4.  I approached it with that mindset scouting things normally I would have just run in a lower 48 river.  It save my life several times where the entire river was blocked by a giant strainer.  There are no accurate reports things are always changing.  Over confidence kills.  

We've actually talked about this, specifically. I also was a serious WW kayaker, and when I came up the notion of adding a grade for weather or remoteness was common. Unfortunately this has fallen out as the paddling culture focused more on the technicality of the drop rather than overall risk.  I've told him my personal philosophy that a trip under 4 persons adds a point, you ideally want one to stay with the injured party and 2 to support each other going for help. He's a smart & cautious kid, and has had a number of older mentors to guide him, something sadly becoming rare these days outside a structure like the military. They would have been lucky to get him!

 

I do appreciate the advice and the thoughts. Sorry about your friend. I was lucky not to lose anybody close, but I also was quite aware that my buddies and I were far more skilled and prepared for the rivers we would choose than the older paddlers we knew who gonzoed their way through swimming everything. In 1989 when I was a beginner, I joined the big local club here KCCNY shorty after a popular member died paddling a class 2 river in flood by running a low head dam without scouting it. This made a big impression on me, you don't break 3 cardinal rules at once! Every situation must be evaluated at that time and place. That said, it is terrifying him choosing this career. I hope he stays safe, but sh*t happens anywhere. I was just today reading about a West Point Cadet Senior dying while skiing on their grounds. Heartbreaking.

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1 hour ago, gellfex said:

We've actually talked about this, specifically. I also was a serious WW kayaker, and when I came up the notion of adding a grade for weather or remoteness was common. Unfortunately this has fallen out as the paddling culture focused more on the technicality of the drop rather than overall risk.  I've told him my personal philosophy that a trip under 4 persons adds a point, you ideally want one to stay with the injured party and 2 to support each other going for help. He's a smart & cautious kid, and has had a number of older mentors to guide him, something sadly becoming rare these days outside a structure like the military. They would have been lucky to get him!

 

I do appreciate the advice and the thoughts. Sorry about your friend. I was lucky not to lose anybody close, but I also was quite aware that my buddies and I were far more skilled and prepared for the rivers we would choose than the older paddlers we knew who gonzoed their way through swimming everything. In 1989 when I was a beginner, I joined the big local club here KCCNY shorty after a popular member died paddling a class 2 river in flood by running a low head dam without scouting it. This made a big impression on me, you don't break 3 cardinal rules at once! Every situation must be evaluated at that time and place. That said, it is terrifying him choosing this career. I hope he stays safe, but sh*t happens anywhere. I was just today reading about a West Point Cadet Senior dying while skiing on their grounds. Heartbreaking.

Its true bad things can happen no matter how good you are.  If Tim had a GPS commincator with him he might have lived long enough to be found.  He owned one but left it at home decided it was extra weight in his hunting pack he did not need because it was an area he knew like back of his hand.  Thats why it was so sad it went down the way it did.  Its invalueable and not that much money in big picture.  My backcountry days are pretty much over for

forseeable future but i wont go without one.   

 

Groups is the way to go.  four is definitley ideal.  I hope he has a great time this summer!  

 

I suggest heading up to meet him at end of climbing season in fall.  Go to Kenai River and chase silvers and big rainbows with Alaska Troutfitters.  September and October is amazing.  My friends own and operate that guide service its top notch and very easy for a beginner fly fisherman.  The fish your son will hook into may get him more interested in fly fishing

 

 

 

 

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