Friday, May 11, 2012

The challenge

I received a fly tying kit for Christmas and started to tie flies the same day. The kit did not come with hooks, so I got some from my tackle box. I didn't pay much attention to hook size or style, I just tied flies. I tied some of each of the kinds of flies in the instruction book.

 I looked at tutorials on the web and tied them. I bought more materials and books and tied more patterns.
Soon I began to tie patterns that I had not seen but resembled prey species that I had seen in stomachs of fish I was cleaning.
I tied patterns that resembled (or that I imagined resembled) pike, salmon fry, eels, frogs, and smolt. I tied bead-head scuds and bug-eyed nymphs

Sometime along the line I thought it would be a great idea to catch each of Alaska's game fish with a fly tied by myself, even better if it was one of my own patterns.

The challenge

So the challenge is to catch each of Alaska's game fish species with a fly tied by myself, one of my own patterns, with traditional fly tackle.

The list

Here is the official list of Alaskan sport fish species from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game;

Fresh Water:

There are different lists of Alaska game fish, they vary a little from list to list. Some of them call rainbow trout and steelhead the same species, for my purposes I am going to count them as two different fish. One list showed Dolly Varden and Arctic Char as the same fish, they are actually two separate species and I am going to count them as two fish. One list showed Burbot and White fish as game fish, so I am going to count them.

So, my official list of Alaskan game fish species is;

Arctic Char
Arctic Grayling
Northern Pike
Round Whitefish
Humpback Whitefish
Broad Whitefish
Dolly Varden
Lake trout
Rainbow trout
Cutthroat Trout
Brook Trout
Black Rockfish
Yelloweye Rockfish
Salmon Shark
King Salmon
Silver Salmon
Sockeye Salmon
Pink Salmon
Chum Salmon

Some of these fish are commonly sought after by fly fisherman, I am sure some of them have never been recorded as having been caught by a fly fisherman. Some of them will be easy to catch. Some will be caught incidentally while targeting other species. Sablefish, Salmon Shark and Burbot will probably be the most challenging.

The Rules

Since it's my game, I guess I get to make the rules. All of the fish will be caught using traditional fly fishing tackle and methods on flies that I tied. It's nearly impossible to know if a fly pattern is an original, for that reason I will not hold myself to that stipulation. I think it would be fun to catch as many species as I can on patterns that I developed, so I will do it with flies that I have not seen others tie. I am sure many will be similar to flies that other people have tied.
All fishing seasons and regulations will be adhered to.
Much of the fishing will be self guided, though I will absolutely need to charter some airplanes and boats.
I will not use down riggers or extra weight on the flies though I will use weighted flies.
I will not use bait or scent, I will allow myself to use fish I have caught to enhance the smell of the flies.
I will not use power to chase fish, shoot or harpoon fish. I will use a landing net where practical and a tail-loop, if necessary.
Most of the fish will be released unharmed, if one is injured it will be eaten and some will be saved for meals.

More on the flies later.

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