David Kalinowski November 14, 2023
“Mousing” may not be the most productive technique at any given time, but it has its place, it's effective, and it's fun! Mousing can be very productive, especially if you cover water efficiently. While June and July will always be great months to fish a mouse, August and September are more nuanced. As with most things in Alaska, everything revolves around the salmon cycle and the region you are in. One thing is for sure, I will never travel to AK without some mouse patterns.
Here are a few tips that will help you have success with the mouse. First, tie it on and fish it. Do not waver, and do not let your guide tell you the Dolly Llama will catch more. That is not the point. There are limited places in the world where mice patterns work well, especially during daylight hours. Kamchatka, New Zealand, and Alaska are some of the best regions. So, take advantage of where you are. Second, present the mouse as naturally as possible. Cast close to the bank and swing the fly into the main current or into the structure you feel holds fish. Twitch your fly causing small splashes but not so much that the fly surges quickly. Let it swing, and don’t lift your rod until you feel the fish or the fly disappears from sight for several seconds. Third, do not cast in the same spot twice unless you see the fish move and miss. They will show fast on the mouse, and if they don’t, move on.
It is important to turn the fly over and get it swinging on a tight line immediately. Keep leaders short and stout, 15 pounds at the fly is about right. Four to six feet in length is my preference and always keep your total leader length shorter than your rod. If possible, get yourself a line that is designed to cast large flies. Shorter heads in the 30- to 40-foot range are nice. If I had to choose one rod, a fast action 790-4. My favorite patterns include the RIO Pip Squeak, Morrish Mouse, and Mr. Hanky. All work well, all catch fish, and all are a little different. I found the PIP Squeak to sputter water well, and I like the legs and its durability. The Morrish Mouse is the easiest to cast and care for. The long shank and down-facing hook bend acts like a keel, and it fishes perfectly on pretty much every cast. Mr. Hanky fishes well and rides the lowest, which is a good presentation. I have witnessed rodents swimming in Alaska, and these patterns best represent what I have seen. Please pinch your barbs.
Location and timing are certainly important when wanting to fish a mouse in Alaska. In some places, you can have success on the mouse all season, but in other regions, it is reserved for the early or possibly late weeks. Western Alaska rivers like the Kanektok or Arolik are well known for mousing. You can fish a mouse with confidence in any week of the season on these systems. The northern rivers flowing into the Kuskokwim are also great systems to fish the mouse all season long. The high-elevation streams of the Wood Tikchik Park are also great for mousing, especially early and late. The Katmai region is where you will find the largest trout but also the most sockeye salmon. This means mousing usually is best before salmon eggs drop and after they pass. I have had great success with a mouse on the most “well-loved” Katmai rivers all the way through mid-August, just before the spawning got heavy. In fact, on one trip in early August, I fished a mouse pattern every day for two weeks and caught more than enough mouse eaters to keep me smiling. Give it a try.
Fly Water Travel's Favorite Alaska Mousing Destinations
Alaska West – The Kanektok is perfectly set up for mousing. There is a reason it was secretly referred to as “The Chosen River”. Lots of rodents in the tundra and lots of trout in the river is a good combo.
Intricate Bay Lodge – Great early season mousing on the smaller streams near this lodge. Add a couple fly outs and it’s a great recipe.
Rapids Camp Lodge –This great location allows for short flights in any direction. From down the peninsula to inside Katmai, Rapids Camp can bring you to where the fishing is best.
Fishing Bear Camp –This remote location within scenic Wood Tikchik Park reaches numerous lake tributaries via jet boat. Fishing Bear is one of our favorite destinations and the mousing here is very good, especially July and late September.
Royal Wolf Lodge – Short flights to great Katmai Park rivers where some of the largest trout are found. June and July dates here offer the best mousing.
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Our Alaska Destination Manager is David Kalinowski