Alaska Lakes: Fishing Chironomid Pupae Imitations in Southcentral
Produced by George Krumm
Alaska lakes are one of George Krumm’s favorite subjects. George is the Editor in Chief and Stillwater columnist of Fish Alaska. He’s an unrepentant stillwater flyfishing fanatic, among other things. He moved to Alaska in the early ‘90s hoping to find solace and serenity fishing for salmon and trout in Alaska’s streams, but he found it on Alaska lakes. With no allocation battles, no high-water events, no unpredictable regulatory environment and little competition, Alaska lakes have a high percentage of carry-over trout, with fish of several age classes present in many if not most lakes, and predictably good fishing. George mostly fishes lakes stocked by ADF&G, and says it’s not uncommon to catch fish over 20 inches long, with fish to over 30 inches possible in some lakes.
Trout in southcentral lakes feed on the usual stillwater fare: leeches, scuds, damsel- and dragonfly nymphs, minnows (sticklebacks and juvenile salmon), caddis flies, and chironomids. Noticeably absent in Alaska lakes are mayflies. You will see one hatch occasionally, but the heavy hatches of callibaetis and hexagenia mayflies don’t happen in southcentral Alaska lakes. However, if it looks like food and acts like food, trout will eat it, so you can still catch trout on mayfly nymph imitations even though there are very few naturals around.
Many fly anglers fishing Alaska lakes troll ‘buggers most of the time. That works, and it’s simple. However, matching your presentation and imitations to the predominant food source available at a given time will usually produce better results. In many lakes, the predominant food source available to trout, especially during the early season, is chironomids. Though the majority of heavy chironomid hatches happen in May and June in southcentral lakes, some chironomids hatch all through the open-water season and trout will rarely refuse a chironomid pupa imitation fished realistically. The fish will take them during every month of the open-water season, from ice-out to freeze-up.
In this video, George shows effective pupa imitations, describes a couple presentation techniques to fish them, and shares with you the fly gear and rigging he uses to fish chironomid pupa imitations in southcentral Alaska lakes.