We’re lucky at Alaska West to have incredibly varied rainbow trout fishing. We use mice, sculpins, leeches, flesh flies, beads, smolts and more. We use single- and double-handed rods. And we fish lots of different parts of our rivers, from the big main channel to upriver spawning beds to little tiny side channels.
Fishing side channels is a ton of fun because it’s small water, it’s intimate, it’s different and it usually happens on foot. Here’s how you can have even more fun when you’re off the main river.
4 Tips for Fishing in Side Channels
- Work your way upstream. This is typically low, clear water and you don’t want to spook fish that haven’t seen your fly yet. The best way to do this is to work up.
- Look for fish before you look for holding water. Don’t just march on up to that juicy looking seam – constantly scan all the water for signs of trout. Fish in side channels can move around quite a bit, and you never know where you might find one. There’s nothing worse than spooking a nice fish out of the shallows!
- Make a few casts, then move on. Once you see your target, make a few presentations and then change it up. These fish generally don’t require a perfect presentation, so if he’s seen your fly a few times and hasn’t eaten it, either move upstream or change your fly.
- Fish a reasonable tippet. This is not the Henry’s Fork in terms of educated fish, but they can see pretty well in the low, clear water. Try something on the order of 10 pound Maxima or stealthier. Be reasonable!
Wait a second – for anybody who’s chased trout in small water anywhere, this is all really obvious stuff, right? Well, that’s the beauty of fishing side channels at Alaska West – you’re using classic trout fishing approaches, but you’re catching big beautiful Alaskan leopard rainbows.
Note this is not always the case on our rivers – where we often work our way downstream, fishing likely holding water, making lots of casts at any given spot, and fishing pretty unreasonable tippets!