Interior Alaska's Best Most Affordable Grayling and Salmon Float

by Christopher Batin

For many anglers, catching king salmon and grayling is secondary to escaping the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds commonplace in many areas of Alaska. Find excellent fishing near the road system where you neither see nor hear another angler and you have a national secret.

While not common throughout Alaska, this type of trip does exist at an affordable price. If you don't believe it, visit Reed Morisky of Arctic Grayling Guide Service.

 

Solid results from a drifted day.

PHOTO: CHRIS BATIN

Morisky was born in Corvallis, Oregon and moved to Fairbanks in 1981. He started his guiding service in 1984, guiding anglers to the out-of-the-way and seldom fished waters in the Interior.

He offers a smorgasbord of fishing opportunities (see below) that is worth investigating.

Take your choice of full day, overnight or week-long trips that offer peace and quiet. All come complete with lots of fish-catching action.

Our day trip with Morisky last year had us floating a river that the crowds didn't know existed. To be truthful, I didn't even know it existed, either. There was neither trash, footprints nor indication of humanity. Only beaver cuttings. Lots of beaver cuttings.

After dropping us off via riverboat, Morisky helped us shoulder our canoe for a short overland trek to a clearwater tributary, where we began our float. In the pools that followed, grayling were abundant. They rose eagerly for dry flies throughout the day. The dry fly action equaled or surpassed some of the grayling fishing I've experienced while fishing out of the $4,000 lodges in Bristol Bay. In the lower stretches of this creek, king salmon held lazily in the current.

"My average customer catches about two kings per day," Morisky said. "It's a great little fishery for those who want to experience variety in a remote setting."

Morisky's full-day float is for the adventure seeker. You need to push and pull the canoe through a few patches of brush, and around a beaver dam or two, but it's a small price to pay for the excitement of fishing such a remote area.

Expect to catch large grayling. We regularly caught fish in the 14 to 18-inch category, including a huge 19-incher. All were taken on dries. Action was non-stop, and we didn't fish half of the pools we wanted.

The best flies for us were Royal Coachman, Grey Wulff and Adams, sizes 10 through 14. Mosquito, Black Gnat and caddis fly patterns also worked well.

Although we didn't use them, Morisky said tiny Mepps Black Furies in size 00 are good, as are 1/8-ounce black and/or silver-plated spoons. A Spin Bubble on ultralight fishing gear and one of the flies mentioned above should catch plenty of fish for the spin fisher.

Bring your own tackle or flies if you prefer, but remember Morisky can provide all your gear. His fishing package also includes all transportation, a fully furnished and neatly arranged cabin, bedding...everything except personal gear and food. On his float trip, he offers smoked king salmon as a tasty snack throughout the day. His trips are frequently taken by families and couples who want good fishing as well as a get-away for the weekend. If you're looking for a quality fishing adventure, this is one of the best finds of the year.

Trip Facts:

THE AREA: To ensure a quiet, uncrowded fishing experience, the streams that you will be fishing are accessible only by jet-powered boat and are located between Livengood and Denali National Park. Evening trips are conducted on semi-remote streams a short drive from Fairbanks. The cabins are located on a wide but shallow spring-fed watershed. It is approximately 12 miles long with a very good supply of naturally occurring Arctic grayling. The stream offers excellent fly fishing opportunities, but spin fishermen also do well on king, silver and chum salmon. If you like to fish a stream that is wide with plenty of gravel banks for easy walking, this stream is for you. Morisky is the only sportfishing guide service operating in this pristine area.

This package includes overnight lodging in comfortable cabins located on the banks of a quiet, spring-fed stream. Take a short walk from the cabin and you can try your hand at gold panning under the midnight sun. Every pan shows at least a few flakes of this naturally occurring gold. Gold pans are furnished.

Seasonal Planning

JUNE

During the first week of June, Morisky begins guiding for Arctic grayling. Large numbers of grayling are starting their spawning runs into interior Alaskan streams. The longest day of the year is June 21, with over 21 hours of daylight. This is one of the driest and mildest summer months to be fishing in interior Alaska. Grayling are voracious topwater feeders and are easily located.

JULY

King salmon start appearing during the first week of July and continue until the first week of August. An average king will weigh from 12 to 30 pounds, with an occasional 35 pound (or heavier) fish possible.

Warmer weather prevails during this month and the grayling will be feeding heavily on the stream's surface. Although grayling will chase nearly any lure presented to them, they are especially susceptible to dry flies in July.

If you and your party are not familiar with flyfishing, don't worry, AGGS supplies all the gear (in addition to spin gear). With a quick primer on fly fishing, you will soon be catching grayling.

AUGUST

Kings can be caught during the first week of August, followed by the first run of chum salmon as they move upstream.

Grayling are feeding more on subsurface insects, especially during cool mornings and evenings. Fishing is still excellent.

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