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Ask the Pro's: Fly-Fishing near Willow for Rainbows, Grayling & Silver Salmon

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  • Greetings!! My wife and I who have loved to fly fish and it has been our passion for over 40 years are coming to Alaska for almost three weeks and are staying at a VRBO in Willow, Alaska. Our arrival is mid August of 2023 and we leave the first week in September. Just wondering if you could pass some knowledge on the silver salmon fishing in the area as well as the rainbows and grayling. We are very much looking forward to our trip to the area!!!

    Many, many thanks!!!! Tom

  • Tom,

    Congrats on you and your wife making the trip to AK.! Careful though AK. will ruin you forever!

    You are coming at one of my favorite times of the season and fishing my home waters. All the Alaska Parks Highway rivers boast great fishing for all the species you're searching for and have lots of access. Just for your info and if you know this my apologies but our fish don't eat bugs, it is all about the salmon, salmon eggs, juvenile salmon, and the decaying carcass's of dead salmon. Hiring a guide for your first day would help to figure out how we fish up here then you'd be all dialed to go it alone after that. If you are familiar with these types of rigs then game on. Please feel free to reach out tom directly for any additional help. I hope you and your wife have an amazing trip and don't forget a GOOD rain jacket!

    Cheers - Adam

    Adam Cuthriell - Part owner of FishHound Expeditions. His wife Kathryn Cuthriell and business partner Dave "Reps" Repta make up the rest of the company as well as their dogs Hatch, Rado, and Pike. They fish, live, and guide in Alaska year-round. When not guiding on the rivers they guide ice fishing on Alaska's numerous lakes. Originally from Colorado, he began guiding at the age of 19 while receiving a degree in Outdoor Recreation Leadership. Adam is also a current state of Alaska EMT.
  • Your timing should be good for Silver Salmon in the Willow area. Willow, Sheep and Montana Creek are all good for Silvers. The Alaska Parks Highway goes over the top of these creeks, all salmon fishing is down river of the bridges. You will want to check in with fish and game or us before you start fishing to be sure there are no emergency orders in place that close Silver fishing. This happens if the run is not meeting their goals, this can be an issue on those streams from time to time.

    As for Rainbow Trout and Grayling. The streams I mentioned, with the addition of Little Willow and Goose creek are all fantastic trout and grayling fisheries. Your timing will be a egg pattern, dries, nymphs and mouse patterns for those fish.

    Anything we can do to help or answer questions, please let us know.

    Thanks - Mike

    Mike Brown - Owner of Mossy's Fly Shop in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Hey Tom!

    I don't have much experience fishing for silvers in the Willow area; however, there are several streams in the area (depending on the regulations) like Montana Creek where you can target silvers on the fly. Most areas you can target silvers have the potential to be busy as these are generally smaller streams with roadside access to the sections open to targeting silvers. In terms of the silver run in the area, silvers/coho salmon tend to run earlier than down here on the Kenai River where the runs start in early August and go all the way through the end of October.

    Similar to availability for rainbows/grayling, there are several walkable/wadeable streams within a short drive where you can expect good to excellent trout/grayling fishing. Here again you will want to pay close attention to the regulations and also be aware that it is a local custom not to harvest these species. During this window you will most likely encounter several different species of salmon spawning which can make the trout/grayling fishing good.

    The big takeaway is to pay close attention to regulations as they can change from each section of river/stream as well as from river/stream to river/stream.

    Hopefully this helps!


    Dave Lisi - Owner/Guide for Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC located in the small mountain town of Cooper Landing, Alaska where he is a year-round resident, guide, carpenter and trout bum. On any given day, you will most likely find Dave on the banks of the Kenai swinging for trout with his best friend and future wife, Jackie. Cooper Landing Fishing Guide, LLC was built in early 2017 with the goal of sharing the love and passion Dave and Jackie have for the Kenai Peninsula and the fish that live there.
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