In the summer of 2010 my wife Angel and I were invited on a fly fishing float trip for grayling with our good friends, Bob and Kathleen Hook. We floated the upper Chena River (pronounced "Cheena", we locals are always irritated when people pronounce OUR stuff wrong) and had a wonderful time. The weather was great, the company was better and the fishing was super. I am sure we caught over a hundred fish and as I remember some of them were pretty nice fish. At the end of the day Bob and Kathleen gave me the rod that they had loaned me for the day and I was hooked.
In August of 2011 a friend of mine, Mike Bracken and I floated the Salmon Fork of the Black River for seven days. It's a remote tributary of the Porcupine on the Arctic Circle with it's origin near the Canadian border. We floated for seven days and never saw another human being, no cars, no phones and the only airplanes we saw were the two that were at 35,000 feet.
We had a great time, we fished with mostly spinning gear but I brought my fly rod along and gave it a try later in the trip. Within minutes, the first fish was hooked, a sheefish.
In many things, not just hunting or fishing, when you first start out, more is better. If photography is your hobby the more pictures you can take the better, after a while, when you've taken enough, you look for better shots, some that no one else has taken yet, something different, something better. There comes a time when quantity is no longer the point, but quality and the pursuit of it has the emphasis. When I had gotten enough grouse to eat with a shotgun, I began to shoot them with a pistol. When I had killed enough deer with a rifle I started to hunt with a bow. I have had more fun hunting with a bow and not killing as much, than I did when I killed more with a rifle. I hunted more with a bow and I hunted more skillfully. The quality of the hunt was better.
Fly fishing is the same, I don't have to catch 100 fish a day, though you still can in fly fishing. I can get more satisfaction from fishing with a fly that I tied, especially if it's a pattern that I developed.
I got a fly tying kit for Christmas again, some forty years after my first one, so now, I can extend this pursuit through the winter months. I will show you some of my patterns and how they came to be.
Sometime along the way I decided I should catch each of Alaska's game fish on a fly that I tied. The list includes the salt water species, as well as fresh, the ones commonly sought by fly fisherman and some that may never have been caught on a fly. It will be a challenge to be sure.