Review: Flyfisher's Guide to Alaska - By Scott Haugen
Scott Haugen, Dan Busch, and Will Rice's book: Flyfisher's Guide to Alaska: Includes Light Tackle is an outstanding resource for all fly fishermen, especially the DIY local fisherman or those who are visiting Alaska for a short period. The books strongest feature is the description of the rivers. I am not sure another set of river descriptions of this magnitude exists. Alaska is a huge territory, and there are so many rivers that you could visit each one and never experience all that Alaska has to offer fly fishermen. Explore water bodies with names like Lost Lake, Salmon Creek, Hidden Lake, Engineer Lake and Moose River. The authors make it easy to fall in love with fishing in Alaska.
The book is rich in details and while written for the DIY fisherman every fisherman who visits Alaska should have a copy of this book. The book is available in paperback for Under $35 via Amazon, and it is also available for $9.99 for your Kindle. The 455 pages are filled with helpful advice and adventure that make this an ideal book for all levels of fishermen. The helpful sections that novice fishermen will enjoy are those about flies and line setup. The authors are patient and explain their methods well. The book includes maps, fish guides, and information about rivers, highways, where to stay and everything else you would ever need to know to make a successful fishing trip in Alaska.
Man vs Fish - The quest for Trophy Fish
Haugen has created a comprehensive guide from the fly fishermen's perspective of what it means to sports fish in Alaska. The focus within the book is on the rivers and fish and the locations throughout the great state of Alaska. Most readers will find the maps in the front of the book helpful. There are excellent tips and tricks scattered throughout the book. Overall, an outstanding value.
Regions of Alaska
Haugen divides up Alaska into six regions; Southeast, Bristol Bay, Kenai Peninsula, Road system/Interior, Arctic and Kodiak regions. These are all the same regions except on many other maps you will find only five regions, and many are named differently or cover different territory. That is an important note when looking for a river, town or lake. Be prepared to look outside of this book to find places. Overall, the focus here is on fishing, and the distinction between one area and another makes sense if you have a general overview of Alaska, the Alaskan road system or the geology of Alaska. Another point for those who are not native to Alaska is this book is set up to define territories as you move away from the city of Anchorage.
Alaska's Sports Fish Species
There is some outstandingly good advice on some of the methods to catch each type of fish discussed in the book. Haugen does a wonderful job of capturing the relationship between the fish and the fisherman through descriptions and stories that easily relate to anyone who has fished. The information found here discusses the best seasons to fish for each species and peaks times. As a general complaint, the reader gets a good overview of the life history of the fish and not enough information about the best streams in which to find them. That information is available later in the book as the author begins to discuss fishing in each territory.
Expect to find information on King Salmon, Silver Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Chum Salmon and Pink Salmon. Other salmonid species include the Steelhead, Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Brook Trout, Dolly Varden and Arctic Char. Freshwater fish discussed include the Sail Fin Arctic Grayling, Northern Pike, Sheefish and Burbot. Burbot are freshwater cod that are often caught at night or during the winter while ice fishing.
Traveling to Alaska: Exploring the Alaskan Fishing Scene
The Book goes into great detail about how to get to Fairbanks, Alaska, which it deems as the fishing hub of Alaska. Haugen provides readers with his insider secrets about dealing with the airport and where to find an Alaska Fishing License late at night. His advice is fair, but it is geared towards the DIY guy how is in town for the weekend and wants to fish. If you are truly looking for a fishing adventure the place to go is an Alaska fishing lodge. When you travel the DIY route, you are fishing in waters that are already heavily fished. Go remote and be prepared to amazingly wowed.
Expect information from Haugen about the local area, distance between cities or locations from Anchorage and a healthy list of resources and contacts such as the Alaska Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has also listed all of the guide services around the Anchorage area. If you are arriving during a heavy part of a fishing season, it might be hard to find a guide. Try to make your reservations before you arrive as it will make your job a lot easier. If you need tackle, there are quite a few locations mentioned in the book where you can buy tackle. Haugen's favorite place is Fred Meyer. The information he lists is general, but there is value there including the list of accommodations which includes campgrounds, RV parks, and hotel/motels around the area.
Fly Fishing around: Finding Monster Fish around Cities like Anchorage
As you read these sections, it becomes clear that this is a book written for the fisherman on the go. Those guys and gals with limited fishing time and who want the best experience possible. Haugen provides outstanding advice. He provides detailed information about the areas around a major city such as river locations, fishing tips and expectations. There are maps of the surrounding area that are included within each section that are helpful. A highlight that is valuable to both the DIY fisherman and those on a fishing vacation are the run tables that he includes in the book. These are detailed enough to name specific rivers, streams and lakes as species-specific enough for the time of year that you are visiting.
Also of value is the details that the book provides about individual streams, rivers, and lakes. A word of warning however; Haugen lists special regulations which may not be up to date. Always check the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for recent changes. River details include the types of fish you will find there, river characteristics, access for fishing, and a map. Another word of warning; Rivers change and meander. Go in with a realistic view that the river in the book may not be the same river you are fishing today. Haugen has done an excellent job of detailing all of the major rivers, creeks and lakes and provides that information to you in an easy to read and remember format. There are dozens of waterways listed, and all are categorized by the area around the city such as south of Anchorage, etc.
Expect fishing tips for some of the rivers and intermixed are the stories that drive home the point. He offers a lot of advice and most, if not all of it is sound. An example would be his description on why it is important to pick your fishing spot with care. He tells a story about fishing safety and how close-quarter fishing can be dangerous. These tips add value to the book and his stories offer that lesson in an entertaining fashion.
Fly In fishing trips
The book offers tips on day trips that are off the beaten path. The remote locations in Alaska are often fishing havens where few people ever go fishing. It is not like the public and road fishing many of us are used to experiencing. You know those creeks where three feet on each side of you is another fisherman. Those are challenging fishing trips, especially when the guy next to you keeps reeling in salmon. The remote areas offer more opportunity and better fishing. Haugen lays it out there for you about how to find an air tax, what kind of costs you are looking at and other options available for fishing in remote locations.
Tips and Advice: Insider Information of Flies, Tackle and Methods
This is an area of the book where Haugen strikes gold. He takes the time to explain how to fly fish. His explanations are clear. He provides reasons why he suggests one method over another. The lessons you will find here are valuable especially if you are new to Flyfishing.
The book takes on drift-fishing techniques, and it picks up where the Flyfishing techniques leave off. Hauge sort of explains the fishing cycle in local rivers from bank fishing to drift-fishing. His tips are thoughtful and accurate. He offers rationals that are deep and from an experienced fisherman. The tips that are provided can make a difference in whether or not you catch a fish or go away without one.
Setting up your line for flyfishing or drift-fishing
This is another section that is golden. There are tons of tips here that are tried and true. The methods of rigging your line are easy to understand, and the details are laid out well. He gives you terms of common fishing lures such as Cheaters and Spin-N-Glos, and he tells you how to use them effectively while fishing. He goes into great depth about how to make a presentation of your lure or fly, which is half of the battle when fishing. Expect to learn how to use a bobber for reasons other than floating your line. The tips here are valuable and honest.
Overall, the book has depth. It is a book that is written for the DIY fishermen, but there is plenty of value here for the Lodge fisherman as well. Haugen provides plenty of expert tips, and his overview of the Alaskan fishing scene and locations are written from the point of view of someone who is intimate with these areas. That is a rich value from which any reader can gain knowledge and skill. Personally, I loved the descriptions of the rivers, many of which most of us will never see. There are so many rivers in Alaska that it becomes impossible to know them all intimately, for that reason this book is invaluable. To add even more value are the sections of the book where Haugen provides expert tips on how to fish and the secret tips on what to change up from one river to the next. The book is well worth the cost and something to keep with you when you are in Alaska to use as a guide.