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Written By: Bruce Sandstrom, Aniak River Lodge

The writer reveals off a pleasant Sheefish.
Photograph by Aniak River Lodge

For those who’ve by no means heard of a sheefish–additionally identified domestically right here in Alaska as inconnu–you’re not alone. Most anglers come up right here to chase salmonids of 1 selection or one other, so this comparatively obscure species has continued to fly beneath the radar. However sheefish are exceptional recreation fish that deserve extra consideration: they will blow up like striper blitzing on the floor, or they are often as choosy as allow, after which disappear sooner than a paycheck at a fly-shop sale. This unpredictable habits, mixed with their important measurement (the Alaska state document is over 50 kilos), makes the sheefish a super goal for leisure anglers. 

Sheefish are sometimes most lively throughout low mild intervals initially and finish of the day.
Photograph by Tristen Snider 

I discover that high-water circumstances are greatest for chasing sheefish, as they key into the waves of salmon fry that get pushed downstream throughout heavier flows. Search for depressions within the river backside slightly below a shallower “flat” space–they maintain down within the bucket and await the fry to be washed excessive. Sheefish have very comparable feeding patterns to stripers, often ambushing their prey from under, and making distinct slurping sounds you’ll usually hear earlier than you really see them. Attempt to discover their feeding lane and swing some casts over the outlet, ensuring to remain centered till the very finish of every swing or retrieve, since these fish are reasonably notorious for ready till the final potential second to strike.

Excessive water circumstances can generally frustrate trout and salmon anglers, however that’s a super time to pursue Sheefish.
Photograph by Aniak River Lodge

Usually, I begin off by swinging a Clouser Minnow on a 10-foot chief. The basic chartreuse-and-white coloration scheme is at all times good, and I’m additionally keen on yellow-and-white. Strive giving the fly occasional twitches to create the impression of an injured baitfish. When the sheefish aren’t actively feeding close to the floor, you could find them hanging near the underside, at which level I like to modify to a weighted Game Changer. Sheefish have nice listening to, and are capable of choose up the faint vibrations this fly makes because it flutters towards the underside, even within the darkest water. Lastly, do you have to ever encounter a full-on floor blitz with water boiling throughout, know that it’s not at all times the bonanza it might sound, for the reason that fish can get so dialed into one spot that they gained’t even transfer an inch to take a fly. On these uncommon events, I am going for the enjoyable possibility and tie on a Gurgler or popper, retrieved with intermittent pauses that can usually incite a totally airborne assault.

Bruce Sandstrom guides for Aniak River Lodge in Southwest Alaska.

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