Every Bristol Bay season, I am inadvertently asked the question that so many Alaskan guides are asked, “Exactly which bugs are hatching right now?” All of us answer it a little differently but give basically the same answer. My standard reply is, “Our hatches here are salmon eggs, salmon flesh, salmon smolt, sculpins, leeches and mice.” I usually inflect a wee tiny bit of emphasis when I say “Mice”. It never fails to draw out a dubious angler from the crowd, much like skating a mouse draws the attention of the ravenously starving rainbow trout. Once we have had the explanatory conversation, the once dubious angler is now curious and willing to give it a go. At that point, I know I’ve got them.
It can be quite traumatizing for a fly angler to find out that the gentlemanly pleasant, insect sipping rainbow trout of the lower 48 would stoop to such levels of carnivore behavior. I use a lot of metaphors and idioms to get the point across. It’s not that complicated, just hard for the dry fly purist to fully grasp. The simplest explanation is that Alaska rainbow trout only have a four month window to eat an entire years worth of food. They are hungry and have to get their jobs done quickly. Alaska rainbow trout have to eat, find a new house to live in, find a significant other, spawn, find a new house again and then eat until they are completely gorged, all in four months. Let’s compare that to a Henry’s Fork rainbow trout that may have 9-10 months and an unlimited amount of insect life to feed them 12 months a year. Environment will create the monster, always.
At Rapids Camp Lodge, we fly out to a myriad of mouse fishing destinations in the early season until the end of July. Mouse fishing produces a consistent number of trout large enough to in fact, eat a mouse. Any trout can eat a salmon egg, large trout eat mice. At times, I have seen trout chase a mouse pattern for over 40 feet smashing and porpoising on it until they finally make a solid grab. Every aspect of mousing in Bristol Bay is visual. Thus making for one of the most exhilarating fishing experiences an angler can pursue. Its an occasion for the dubious angler to embrace a reformation of purity.
We typically use 9’ 7 weight fly rods with floating lines and 7.5’ 1X leaders to cast our mouse patterns. If you intend to fish mice and want to bring your own, make sure you do not purchase mouse patterns designed for bass fishing. The hooks are generally too big and the patterns aren’t designed to skate. Our go to mouse pattern at Rapids Camp Lodge is the Morrish Mouse in size 6 fished barbless. It casts great, skates well, it’s durable and most importantly, it looks correct in the water. Mouse patterns designed to be skated for trout do not look correct until they are actually in the water bobbing and gurgling across the surface.
As always, any of the Deneki Outdoors staff will be happy to answer questions in regards to booking, gear and equipment. Just let us know how we can help!
Thanks for reading
Chad Bryson Head Guide Rapids Camp Lodge
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