0 Comments Trevor Reid
As an Alaska fly-fishing guide and avid angler, one of the more profound fly-fishing thrills is hooking giant trout on a mouse. In the lower 48, this rare opportunity is confined to the shroud of darkness. In my native Northern California waters, I enjoyed the occasional experience stripping mice across pools, or along riverbanks with a headlamp, enticing the occasional fish. That trout eat mice is without question. I’d heard of it and watched videos of mouse fishing, but I’d never experienced mice on the trout menu quite like in the great state of Alaska.
Southwest Alaska is world-renowned for these furry mammals. The Alaska red-backed vole and five other species of voles, including six species of shrew comprise most of the Alaskan mouse population propagating in the tundra undergrowth during the short summer months. These small creatures wander up and down riverbanks, frequently venturing across meandering waterways, unaware of the hungry eyes lurking in the depths below.
Do Trout Really Eat Mice?
I was initially exposed to this trial of nature during my first stint as an Alaskan guide. A guest and I were miles upriver, having spent the day fighting big water, stripping leeches and sculpins across pools with an occasional grab. To escape the sun, we ventured up a braid in the river slung with debris and overhung banks which offered some shade. We were in need of a change of pace and a small break, so I had my client open his fly box, revealing a few Mr. Hankey’s (mouse patterns) neatly perched on the top row. I removed one, thought hell it doesn’t hurt to try, and tied the bulky little beast on, handing the rod back to the awaiting gentleman. I instructed him to cast the river’s width at a 45-degree downstream angle and with a few precise casts, slapped the mouse on the surface just beneath a root bramble. He had just nearly lifted the tip and started wiggling the mouse creating a “swimming wake”, when a giant bow surged from the depths, demolishing the furry little fly. Now us guides typically congratulate fisherman with a casual slap on the back or a hooray providing the appearance we knew the fish would be awaiting our decision, however the shared surprise left me whooping and hollering as if I were the one fighting the leopard beast at the end of the line. We crushed it that day, picking the braids debris laden waters apart with a mouse; the numerous eager rainbows creating an indelible memory. That day forever changed my understanding of Alaskan trout diets.
Building A Better Mouse Trap
When I first started guiding fly fishers at Talaheim Lodge, I was eager to experience the rumored high-quality mouse fishing. I’d guided for about 10 years, mainly working out of Lake Iliamna and up the far reaches of the fabled Nushgak River. The fishing had been remote but in predominately bigger water.
My initial summer was an idyllic fairytale, with warm, long days, and the nearby pristine Talaheim River flowing high and clear. Each morning we’d awake to coffee and a gourmet breakfast, change into our fishing attire, and depart in our flying chariots to some distant part of Neverland in search of mythical beasts of the deep. The mouse was a go-to pattern. Time and again I’d walk up to tangled root wads or piles of log debris over deep undercut pools confident a lunker resided within. A well-placed guest cast smacking the mouse on the surface routinely resulted in a silver torpedo erupting from the depths; a sensation that never gets old.
Why Talaheim Lodge Is Different?
In the 3 years since, I’ve become aware of what differentiates Talaheim from mainstream Alaskan lodges. Our Talaheim staff takes immense pride in offering a more intimate and remote experience than the average lodge. No more than 8 guests stay with us each week, and rare is the day you will see another soul on our waters. Daily helicopter rides allow our guests to experience myriad waters and fishing, seldom seen by other anglers. The resident Dolly Varden, Grayling, and salmon have likely never seen the likes of a fly and are eager to gorge on any critter infringing on their territory. We are a wilderness destination, keenly focused on the quality of our guests’ experience, dedicated to making your trip the memory of a lifetime.
The lodge itself is surrounded by mountains, nestled in the far reaches of the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) valley, tucked between the Alaska and Talkeetna Ranges. Our lodge is renowned for its woody rivers, pristine glacial streams, and the fat, beautiful rainbow trout.
Come Visit Us In 2021
We are currently booking trips for the 2021 season; however, reservations are filling quickly. For ideal mouse fishing, book early season, from late-June through mid-July. Of course, the fish here are voracious, and our beautiful rainbow trout will strike a mouse any time of year.
Reply in the comments section below with any questions regarding mouse fishing or availability. We will respond promptly.
Tight lines and hope to see you soon!