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Fat from gorging on tasty cicadas.

This year's emergence of the 17-year periodical cicada, or magicicada, has proven to be a highly localized affair. Travel along the road in some of the areas expected to see a cicada emergence this spring and you may see trees and shrubs blanketed by cicadas in various life stages. Cross a ridge line or a hillside and you may see none. Even in areas where cicadas have emerged, they may not make their way to the water, in order to delight unsuspecting trout and impatient fishermen.

During a busy spring that has presented precious few opportunities to spend time on the water, earlier this week we headed out in search of cicadas and eager trout. And luckily, we found both, thanks to a bit of persistence, research and helpful advice. The day that resulted was a memorable one filled with beautiful scenery and easy catching the likes of which are rarely, if ever, otherwise seen on eastern waters.

Cloud covered peaks in the Tongass National Forest.

In just a few weeks, I'll be boarding a plane headed for Juneau, Alaska where I'll be joining a group of other journalists, bloggers, photographers and conservationists on a tour of the Tongass National Forest, a trip that is being generously sponsored by Trout Unlimited, Fishpond, Tenkara USA and RIO. The Tongass, located in southeast Alaska, is the last remaining large tract of temperate rainforest, the only remaining ecosystem of its kind. It is commonly referred to as the "Salmon Forest", a place where -- quite literally -- trees grow salmon and salmon grow trees.

As noted in the article we published a few weeks ago, Protecting the Tongass: Lessons Already Learned, the Tongass National Forest is facing a myriad of challenges that are wholly familiar to the temperate rainforests of the lower 48 and Canada. Over the last century, these forests in the lower 48 and Canada have seen themselves divided and destroyed by logging, their salmon populations severely diminished by over-harvesting and habitat destruction that is the direct result of human development such as hydroelectric dam construction.

Guide Owen Plair with a first day Ponoi River Atlantic Salmon

If you're not already familiar with Western Russia's Ponoi River (also spelled Ponoy), you should be. The Ponoi is the antithesis of virtually every other Atlantic Salmon river you've heard of. The Ponoi doesn't produce tales of fly fishing for Atlantic Salmon that you're used to, with fishermen in Eastern Canada or the British Isles heading off to the river for a week, casting a billion times, and landing a single fish or counting the success of the trip in tugs. Days on the Ponoi are often measured in dozens of fish caught.

The Ponoi is a pristine river, free of commercial fishing or significant human influence, which flows through the Kola peninsula, eventually dumping into the White Sea almost 800 miles north of Moscow. Getting there isn't easy, and it isn't cheap, but it provides most that visit it a sure-fire bet at the fishing trip of a lifetime.

Want to fish here and see no one else for three days? We thought so.

It's Memorial Day, so we're phoning it in a bit. Still, we're happy to highlight some of our most popular posts of all time. These posts were a big hit when they first went up and have been drawing readers steadily since they were published. Hopefully, that's because they include some useful information or are at least entertaining to read. Otherwise, your guess is as good as ours.


Backcountry Fly Fishing

This short essay serves as an introduction to backcountry fly fishing and why it is worth your trouble to stray from the parking lot at your nearby stream. You can also use the links at the bottom of the article to find all of our other backcountry fly fishing related content. There's more to come this spring and summer, as well.

One of the vast number of streams and rivers that flows through the Tongass National Forest (photo: Mark Brennan).

The Tongass of Southeast Alaska is the largest national forest in the United States and the world’s largest remaining tract of temperate rainforest. Comprised of a dizzying 18,000 miles of streams and rivers which annually produce tens of millions of salmon, it has been described as “a place where trees grow salmon and salmon grow trees”, a depiction which finds its roots more in science than in prose.

The temperate rainforest of the Tongass National Forest is the last of its kind. Similar habitat in the lower 48 and British Columbia has been divided or destroyed, the result of more than a century of logging and other human development. In contrast, the Tongass remains vibrant, playing a vital role both economically and ecologically.

2011 saw record salmon harvests in Southeast Alaska, 80% of which is covered by the forests of the Tongass. 73.5 million salmon were harvested, representing one third of salmon harvested from the entire Pacific Rim. A 2007 study determined the economic value of the Tongass commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries and related activities to be almost $1 billion dollars annually. In addition to its economic importance, the Tongass is also the lynchpin of native Southeastern Alaskan cultures.

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