Photo: Chris Hunt

Downright Jurassic

Exploring a fly fishing paradise in the Alaskan rainforest

The Alaskan rainforest is a primal place. In vast stretches of the Tongass, where the old growth hasn’t met the saw, it’s downright Jurassic.

Big ferns mingle with evil devil’s club and high-bush blueberries, cranberries and huckleberries to create a sweet, yet perilous paradise for everything from bald eagles to brown bears.

And fish. Lots and lots of fish.

Photo: Chris Hunt

Not too many fences

Coastal cutthroat and salmon in Alaska's southeast

Jamie Eddy is the maintenance guy at the retirement home in Petersburg, Alaska. He’s one of about 3,000 souls who live on Mitkof Island, and only one of the few who chase trout and salmon with a fly rod.

“There aren’t too many fences here,” he says as he navigates two visiting anglers up into the Southeast Alaskan rainforest in search of coastal cutthroat trout. “For people who come here, it’s hard for them to grasp that this belongs to them just as much as it does to me. It’s your forest, too.”

This average-sized striped bass leveraged Cape Cod's feverish rip currents to deliver the only backing run of the day (photo: Chad Shmukler).

Not much lost in translation

Steelheading on Cape Cod

"It's nice to have someone in the boat who knows what mending is," Jamie says and I'm momentarily puzzled at the idea of anyone but a true first time angler not knowing what mending is. After learning the most basic of casting skills, mending is perhaps the first thing a trout angler learns. Most presentations made on a flowing stream don't work without a mend, making it an essential skill. But then I quickly remember that we're floating on saltwater, and push aside my bias that compels me to assume that all fly anglers begin as trout fishermen.

Photo: Dave Karczynski

Fathers of men

North to the native lands of lake trout and pike

Lush landscapes do nothing for me, and never have. Maybe it’s a general aversion to noise and busy-ness, but when it comes to temperature and foliage, I’ve always been of the opinion that less is more.

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