One of the most fun and unique ways to target rainbow trout in Western Alaska is by ‘mousing’. Small voles and other rodents often find themselves in the river, intentionally or not, and our bigger predatory rainbows are always on the lookout for a meal that’s even more filling than their usual diet of salmon parts.
Mousing involves fishing a giant dry fly that imitates a small swimming mammal. It’s highly visual, it’s really exciting, and it tends to select for bigger fish. Sound good?
We thought so. Have a look at these tips for mousing.
- Let him eat it! By far, the hardest part of mousing at first is waiting long enough to set the hook. A mouse represents a big meal to a trout, so they move to the mouse fly really aggressively. Seeing a giant rainbow tear out from under a log to slam your giant dry fly is not exactly easy on the nerves…but you have to be patient! When the fish eats, wait for him to close his mouth and turn his head– otherwise you’ll be pulling that fly out of the mouth of one fish after another. It’s hard. Relax. Breathe deep. Wait to set the hook.
- Pound the bank. That big mouse fly will move fish from a lot of different lies, but trout that are tucked right up against the bank may not see the fly unless you put it right in front of them. Besides, a vole that just launched itself from shore is going to land right up against the bank, so why not do your best to imitate a suicidal little mammal?
- Strip and swing. After you’ve pounded the bank, cover the water down and across using a combination of stripping and slow swinging. A variety of factors including which fly you’re using will impact which works best, so try both.
- Cover the water quickly. Trout have good eyesight, and they’ll move a long ways for a mouse– we’ve seen them come from 15 feet or more. There’s no need to land a second cast 6 inches from where the first one landed– anybody who was home would have eaten the first time. Covering the water really quickly is a much more effective use of your time, and it’s more fun too.
- Let him eat it! Did we mention that you need to be patient on the hook set? Relax. Let him close his mouth and turn his head. Wait.
It is my opinion that the mousing experience is greatly enhanced by “calling” this fish to the mouse… meep meep meep.
Hey, I just caught a trifecta, three mice on one glue trap.
Anyone want some live bait? Or perhaps a model to help you tie a good pattern? I'll send them to you. Just send me a SAME, self addressed mouse envelope. 😉
James C says
meeeeeeeeeeeep meeeeeep meep meep meep
James C says
I’ve caught Grayling on mouse patterns in Alaskan lakes, but never a trout. Dying to do it.
Will Blair says
I have found that it is important to keep your rod tip low. I also think while it is great to let them eat it is a recipe for dead trout if you wait to long. The key is making sure that you are not using a fly with a huge hook gape and long shank -those are deadly to mouse eating trout. As an example the verminator is a great fly but with the size 2/0 bass stinger it is tied on it kills almost every trout that eats it. We actually outlawed those and mercer lemmings at my camps.
Jacques Gerome says
Also great in lakes with Smallmouth and Largemouth bass. Cast to the bank early morning and late when sun go down with very fast short strip for the initial cast, then always wait 2-3 seconds before stripping very slowly.
Dollies are the best on mice. They eat meeces to pieces.
Jay Keevers says
Done some Mickey Mouse fly fishing on the Farmington River
in Connecticut ! It’s very effective here too , but
mostly after sunset. It does produce some really fine size
Brown Trout here ! It’s amazing you could fish the same
pool all day and catch some respectable trout , but come dark
and let the moonlight hit that same pool and the monster browns
come to life !! It’s like they’re to lazy or too smart
to waste their energy on a nymph or a Hendrickson dry fly
They know that that mouse packs a lot of protein and its worth
going after !!
I’d love to come to Alaska and try it during the day and be able to see the strike rather then just hear and feel it !!
Robert Worthington says
Fishing with a mouse fly is so rewarding.
I just left Pine Creek, the grand Canyon of Pennsylvania and we slammed big Brown’s at dusk into the dark. Just love it.
Given the topic and the relative unfamiliarity of others with this type of giant fly, future articles might be more informative if they included a photo of the fly type in question. Just a thought.
Ken McBroom says
Fished Alaska many years and never tried the mouse pattern but always wanted to. I need to do a little mousing on my next trip North for sure.
Rick Sisler says
Hi Ken, Thanks for the reply on Mousing. Depending on where you live you may not have to travel “North” to get your fix on mousing a fish up! You might be surprised at what will try to eat a little ol’ mouse. Good luck trying, its a blast when it happens. Thanks for reading our blog and have a great day.