What is a leopard rainbow trout? Is it a rainbow trout that has spots like a leopard? Yes. Is it because they are as aggressive and voracious as a leopard? Yes. Throughout the state of Alaska, rainbow trout here are different from other trout in North America. Hungry, predatory, and aggressive, these are rainbow trout with attitude. Although there is no, technical difference, if you examine the Alaska Leopard Trout, there are some physical differences.
First, they tend to be larger. This is due to their diet. Because of a mostly protein-filled diet, rainbow trout in Alaska get big, real big. Alaska rainbow trout feast on meat from mice to salmon flesh to eggs. This led to an actual evolutionary change. Alaska rainbow trout have a mouth that is distinctly different from other rainbow trout found elsewhere. Their mouths are more equipped to grab and swallow whole small mammals, more akin to brown trout that have a similar diet around the world. All this to say, when you come to fish Alaska for Rainbow Trout, bring mice patterns.
Mousing for Rainbow Trout is a hoot. If you’ve never done it before, it is an automatic addiction. If you have done it before, you know what we mean. Something about casting to the far bank, skating a mouse across a seam, then a rainbow trout breaching the top water, proposing to attack your mouse pattern is a sight to be seen. At times, if there is more than one Rainbow Trout that sees your mouse pattern, they will fight for it. Albeit you will most likely not end up hooking either of them, it is a sight to be seen, nonetheless.
When is the best time? During the spring, while the little critters of the forest are sprouting and foraging, they often notice it’s greener on the other side of the water and must scurry across to the other side. Then the game begins. It is tuned to the Planet Earth II scene of the newly born iguanas having to scamper across the rocks to get to safety from the thousands of snakes trying to eat them. Both are sights to be seen.
Western Alaska and Bristol Bay drainages offer leopard rainbow trout fly fishing. Either fly out or ride a boat to a lovely braid where the little critters are abundant; both Alaska West Lodge in Western Alaska and Rapids Camp Lodge in Bristol Bay offer remarkable opportunities for mousing for rainbows.
If you’ve never moused for rainbows in Alaska, it is definitely something you need to do at least once as a fly angler. Even those who have never done it talk about it. It is literally of legendary status.
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