Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr.6  2000  


Mt. McKinley
Mt. McKinley


Time and her attendant worms have done little to diminish the overwhelming spell Alaska cast upon me. In the six weeks since returning to my beloved Sausalito California home base. I have spent many long moments pondering my Alaskan fly fishing experience deep in the wilderness ensconced in the Wilson brothers homestead at Lake Marie. In this update I will discuss in more detail the fly fishing opportunities and the seasons which feature individual species. My last update # 5, "Monster Kings & Sweet Bamboo" dealt with my excellent June excursion hunting possible world records for King Salmon on light 4/6 weight Bamboo. Its been an amazing aftermath in as much as this story has been the most read fly fishing tale on the World Wide Web for the last six weeks!! This webzine has been hitting 100% on all search engines around the world. It’s been a sublime summer barbecuing thick salmon steaks and sharing the taste and tale with friends and neighbors. Ahh, the fishing gods have smiled and I humbly await the next extreme fly fishing expedition as soon as I can turn dreams into round trip airline tickets... Before we move along to other matters pertaining to the Alaska trip. I have spent a good deal of time forming an international fly fishing guide network with one goal in mind. If your an older fly fisher or a female fly thrower who has reservations about pursuing exotic international fly fishing on your own? I and my world class international guide associates will plan and personally guide you and your party to the most exotic fly fishing destinations on this planet. We have arranged possible excursions to places like Mongolia, New Zealand, Amazon River, Alaska, China and Russia. If your fly fishing imagination can dream it, I can help you make it a reality! My phone and E-mail address are at the end of this column, pick up the phone and lets turn your dream into a great photo album.

Now back to Alaska and the endless fly fishing possibilities we American’s may be taking for granted? How difficult is it to actually make arrangements and take an unforgettable fly fishing trip? It depends on the time of year and the kind of fish your after. One must decide how serious and how extreme you want your trip to be? If your like me and my possessed fly fisher friends. Then Lake Marie in June when the King Salmon are running is the only way to go. These giant sea run beasts are more then a hand full on 8/10 weight fly rods. If you’re really off the wall and abit jaded take along a light 4/6 weight fly rod and hold on my friend. My little 6 weight Winston Bamboo was the most fun I have ever had and the most challenging fly fishing you will ever encounter! This sounds alittle too much and you still want the true Alaskan experience. Then make arrangements for August and the fat Rainbow action, which will keep you busy all day long. The bows reach up to ten pounds and fight like hell. In fact all Alaskan fish are famous for their tenacity and sheer fighting prowess. If you take a light weight rod be prepared for too much fun.

View from small plane, Alaska


King Salmon from around mid June till the second week in July can be caught on the fly. Rainbow trout from early June up till September pursued with ultra light 2/4 weight fly rods is too much fun for those looking for extreme challenges! Silver, Sockeye,
Chum and Pink Salmon usually run from June to September. The beauty of fly fishing Alaska is the wide variety of fly experiences available to all ages. Those older or less adventures can have grand adventures close by any of the larger cities like Anchorage. One does not have to charter small planes to catch fish in this sportsmen wonderland. World famous Denali National Park can be reached by car from Anchorage and though the park has many activities for the whole family. Fly fishing is not the main draw in as much as almost all the parks waters are clouded with silt run off from glaciers. The Southern section of the park in creeks near Cantwell and along the highway toward Talkeetna and north near Nenana are the best bets for quality fly tossing. If you’re short on time and still want a once in a life time Alaskan fly fishing experience. One can easily find many plane charters which specialize in short half day or all day charters within an hour of Anchorage. The best news is no matter what skill level or age you are. Alaska can accommodate you and your schedule and provide a trip to remember. If you’re serious about planning an Alaskan fly fishing trip. A good first step might be to give the folks at National Geographic Maps & Trails a buzz at 800-962-1643. If you’re among the one percent who are after an extreme wilderness fly fishing adventure. Then pick up the phone and call either me Dan Fallon 415-332-3803 in Sausalito California or call my associates the Wilson brothers at Lake Marie Alaska 907-333-3477 or 907-258-0802.



Those of us who have spent endless chilly early mornings carefully tying a deep diving nymph and gently letting it hit the water like a butterfly. Then with the patience of Hillary Clinton mending and watching for any sign of a bump. Those of us who have spent hours, days, months studying currents and stream edges, so we can drop that size 16 bug in just the right spot to fool overly educated fish! Those of us who take this sport so seriously because almost everywhere we toss flies can be reached by hordes of other fly fishers doing almost the exact same routine. We the overly dedicated who have spent years attempting to isolate that one stretch of local stream or river where we can be the BUG MEISTER for just a brief moment before the restless army arrives and screams "Hey Dude, are they hitting anything today?" We maniac fringe dwellers who spend too much money and time assembling the lightest outfits money can buy. Then spool on spider web thin line that costs almost as much as the gas we pumped into that behemoth of a four wheel drive we push all over the map. Yes my weary friends, light does exist at the end of this crowed tunnel of frustration, Northern lights that is.



If you live in any of the lower forty eight states or for that matter anywhere on this little blue marble we call home. I have news for you friend, which will forever change the way you think about and go about catching fish on the fly. Alaska does not require you to sneak up on streams or throw lines so thin you have to use a magnifying glass to tie bugs. Alaska could care less about your educated presentation or your three thousand dollar custom hand made fly rod. In fact, I wager anyone and I mean anyone can easily catch fish with only a ten minute lesson!! Those of us who have swam the crowded waterways where we live with expensive gear and more Zen calm then the Dali Lama. We have paid our dues to the fly gods and payday is waiting from June to September almost anywhere clear water runs in this fly fishers Mecca; Alaska.
Guide Andy with 47 pound King

Within five minutes of wetting lines on my Lake Marie adventure it was clear almost everything I thought had to know about fly fishing was useless and a waste of time. The trout and salmon who swim the isolated waters near the Wilson brothers lodge are truly wild and have had little if any education in the art of avoiding hand tied flies or those who tie them. I threw almost every California style bug in my vest at these noble beasts. Without fail a solid hit or hookup was the result of my bug query.
The only advise needed is make sure your Blood Sucking Leech or Bucktail Streamer is showing one of the colors of the moment. Those colors are either red, chartreuse, black or any combo that displays flashy loud colors and imitates bait fish. Of course once you actually set a hook into these wild fish. The real test of your fly fishing skills begins and if you’re not well versed in the fly fighting arts. You can expect nothing but trouble and a rapid education. One need not worry about catching fish in Alaska. It is the landing and careful releasing that takes the skill! I remember standing in the chilly waters and drinking in the endless natural wildness and then wham a three-pound dark green Rainbow slams the fly and here we go. I did not have to throw the fly exactly where I wanted. I did not have to mend the line with the same tenacity Jerry Faldwell musters when the collection plate is passed. This wondrous last wild fish repository is forgiving and not interested in how much money you spent on your gear. This place is only interested in what’s in your heart and soul fly fisher.

27 inch rainbow
27 inch Rainbow
After spending eight hours or more on the water at Lake Marie. Sun splashed evenings were spent listening to either John or Dave Wilson tell the best wilderness tales. Then my favorite unwinding time staring out at the endless vista’s featuring Mt. McKinley and a thousand miles of untouched wilderness in all directions. It was sublime and touched my soul to the core. Why not take your fly fishing skills to a place where the sky is the limit and the only hindrance is your imagination...



I would be remiss in my duties as an outdoor writer not to mention the downside of my Alaskan fly throwing orgy. In the aftermath of five days spent catching and releasing more wild fat Rainbow's then I have ever caught before. I spent several mornings and evenings flailing away at my local Marin County California reservoirs. I began these sessions with an internal pep talk "Ok, so its not wild and wooly Alaska and I won’t be getting the same Wham-Bam-Slam sensations". It was not the same thrill or anything like it... I had been forever spoiled by the nonstop action and the threat of huge bears looming in the shadows. It dawned on me it was not just the idea of actually coming close to new world records for light Bamboo. Nor was it the numbing hypnotic aspect of throwing flies all day everyday and getting hits or fish every half-hour on average. I suppose it was the totality of the Alaskan wilderness that has had a profound effect on my fly fishing psyche. On the one hand if Alaska did not exist and we could not dream about huge fish and endless action upon wild waters. Then the chess games we play with our local water residents would seem like a one way highway.

I can’t help but speculate on how long or how many generations of dedicated fly fishers will be able to feast on Alaska’s seemingly endless bounty? A cautionary word to my many fly fisher brothers and sisters. I spent several hours speaking with Alaskan D.F.G. officials and contacts in the state capital. It may come as no surprise in the pabulum sameness of this overly protective politically correct boring world being formed by our younger greener citizens. An ugly undercurrent of green insanity looms over the fly fisher horizon. One of the many officials I spoke with was a freshly graduated biologist who made this statement: "We are taking a careful look at new studies which point out the harm done by catch and release of wild fish- It may be the beginning of a new era of elimination of the needless torture of fish purely for the sport of it". I was little taken back by this latest "I will live in a tree for a year to make my point" brand of green control by a new generation of so called politically correct youngsters. I quickly reminded the would be fish savior we sportsmen are the reason the current healthy wild stocks exist in all of North America! If it were not for fee’s paid by all of us and the dedication of many habitat restoration organizations like Trout Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited. The sky would be devoid of the now record flocks of ducks and geese. The waters would be barren and their pay rolls would be non existent. I have spoken at length in this monthly column about the rights of game fish. I have always felt careful catch and release is absolutely the only way to go. It is crazy to keep any fish other then perhaps one or two Salmon each year. If your not gently catching and easily releasing unharmed fish caught with barbless hooks. You are doing everything wrong in respect to conserving and treating this resource with respect. If the current trend of salt water bill fishers who take videos and release fish can be adopted by all anglers. Maybe we together can head off this green madness at the pass. Before we loose rights that can never be retrieved. If you think I'm over reacting to the green menace. Take a long look at the gun control fanatics my friend.



This Alaska expedition underlined for me exactly what wilderness fly fishing guides have known for generations. The outdoor writer columnist in me took over during the rare slack action moments while standing in waist deep cold water. I could not help but query my guide John Wilson on what its like to spend one on one time with clients who may not be world class fly fishers. I asked how he handled those who failed repeatedly to hook or land these giant kings. Good question, I usually adhere to the guides golden rule when it becomes obvious a client is in trouble and may need help. I gently ask if I can give them a few pointers? If they seem put off or unresponsive to the offer. Then I back off and let them work out the problem on their own. It is impossible to over look the anglers ego in most situations. When someone pays good money to be put on fish and then cannot handle the situation. What good does it do to make matters worst by offering advice when its not asked for! Yes I have seen many fly fishers fail to land these big fish - But I have seen many very experienced people also fail to get the hang of setting hooks in the rock hard jaws kings possess. In my mind guides walk a fine line on this issue. Only alot of experience as a guide can prepare you for fly fishers from the big city who may have bitten off much more then they can chew! "I wondered what the real rewards were for guides in this extreme situation deep in the wilderness?" For me it’s the little moments that stand out.

 Pull-boat crossing
Crossing very fast river in home made pull-boat

We have had several woman fly fishers who were outstanding technicians- a pleasure to watch work the waters. When families or father son father daughter teams come up here its a thrill to watch them overcome and land these big bad boys together. "Tell me John what thrills do you look for out here when the clients are gone and it’s just you and the bears?" I have a feeling new techniques such as top water skipping bugs fished like dry flies for King Salmon will be the next big deal up here. That is unless we get a flood of rich guys with two weight three thousand dollar Bamboo looking for glory and world records!! "Ok John what about all these huge bears and clients who might be alittle shy around eight hundred pound fishing partners?" "We have never had a situation where we had to shoot any bears while taking clients out. We have had bears come close to fishing areas- of course these areas belong to the bears first and foremost. I tell clients not to run and walk slowly away from sudden contacts- So far so good. We always make alot of noise when walking in remote area’s where we might run into the big guys. It comes down to common sense up here in all our activities. You may be safer here then driving your car back home!"
If any of you fly fishers out there reading this column are getting bored parking your car and standing next to several others who without fail manage to school up at the best stretch of water each season. You may want to change your whole way of thinking in regard to fly fishing and take a hard look at Alaska in general or Lake Marie in particular. You owe it to your self to go for the real thing friend and this is the real deal!

In the coming months Alaska and its endless adventure opportunities will grace this column. I was gratified and alittle surprised to see Alaska and the proposed developing of the famous Copper River on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle. Staff writer Glen Martin has done a wonderful balanced job in addressing the possible exploitation of one of the last true wilderness areas in North America.
In next months update I will feature another world class fly fisher who has spent his life throwing bugs at everything from Marlin to Permit fish. He just happens to be my next door neighbor Eddy. Once again thank you all for making this column the most read fly fishing column on the World Wide Web. I’m having way too much fun...


 Written by Dan Fallon, September. 2000 ©
     Read his biography

For Dan Fallon's earlier and later columns; visit the table of contents




To get the best experience of the Magazine it is important that you have the right settings
Here are my recommended settings
Please respect the copyright regulations and do not copy any materials from this or any other of the pages in the Rackelhanen Flyfishing Magazine.

© Mats Sjöstrand 2002

If you have any comments or questions about the Magazine, feel free to contact me.

Mats Sjöstrand, Sweden

Please excuse me if you find misspelled words or any other grammatical errors.
I will be grateful if you contact
me about the errors you find.