Targeting Big Alaskan Rainbows
I heard a yell and looked down at Cooper a 16 year old from Colorado who could fish pretty well. He was persistent in fishing a streamer or mouse all day because he was hoping for a big rainbow to grab his fly. His jaw was dropped and eyes wide as he excitedly stuttered, “I’ve got a huge trout!”
I ran down river apologizing to his dad “I’m going to go help your son, you can land this dolly on your own!” His dad was all for it.
I got the net from the boat and almost swooped her in on my first try but she wasn’t ready. Then she tore off and almost took us into the logs. Cooper did a great job running down river and kept the fish from taking him into the first logjam. Then she started pulling towards another larger mess of logs and brush. I ran down as fast as I could and got down river of her and put myself in front of the jam in an effort to spook her so she would swim away. I about filled my waders before I was able to toss the net back on shore and pull myself on top of the logs. By now the big girl was in fast water down river of this huge log mess. I looked at Cooper with a reassuring look, “trust me, give me your rod and run down to the bottom of this jam” I scrambled over the logs and met him at the bottom then ran back for the net. His dad was coming now with camera in hand. When I got back to Cooper he had the fish tired out and she was ready to be netted.
I couldn’t believe the barbless hook on the sculpin stayed pinned on her through that entire circus of events. We snapped a few photos and watched her swim back into the current and out of sight. We both were shaking from the adrenaline rush and excitement. I hit him on the back, “good work dude!” He was almost speechless but muttered that it was his biggest fish ever. I was happy and felt incredibly rewarded to have been a part of this kids memory. Cooper’s rainbow was tall and thick a good representative of an “Alaskan Rainbow”.
What we were using:
On this day we were fishing a black #4 sculpzilla pattern from Solitude. I found one of the best ways to target the rainbows amongst all of the dolly varden who are ever eager to grab your bead before the trout can is by fishing a streamer.
Another thing I experimented with this past summer was sliding a bright orange bead on your line before you tie in your streamer. This allows the bead to slide to the eye of the hook and makes your streamer act as an egg eating sculpin or leech. Rainbows are often territorial especially the big ones and most fish know to keep their distance. So when one of these sculpins swims by too close they want to kill it. You will know when one eats your fly as it will almost rip the rod from your hands!