When talking about Bristol Bay rainbows there has been a lot of lip service put to chasing big rainbows and how the fisherman of this world decide what, where and how is best to chase them. I am not going to get into the arguments but the small streams of Bristol Bay Alaska have to be populated by some of the largest and most numerous specimens. All tied to the cycle of the salmon.
Some of the best trout bites in Alaska happen when the switch flips over to flesh being a large part of the fishes fall diet. So what the hell does this mean to the fisherman.
There are lots of different ways to fish flesh. Dead drifting is the obvious most effective method, but not the only. If you are on a stream with bends, rocks or structure then hanging the fly near the obstruction is often a recipe for a hard grab. It is fun to see a huge trout track down a nice big flesh pattern.
I like my flesh flies weighted on the body, not with eyes but with wire wrapped on the shank of the hook. There are now many different patterns readily available. But whenever I go thru Anchorage I always stop in two shops, World Wide Anglers and Mountain View Sports just to check out any cool fly patterns and there are always cool new patterns. I like to try lots of different colors. Not always because they work better but because they work in different ways. Weighting the fly lets you manipulate it on the dead drift into holes, over lips, rocks etc.
I remember one experience when I guided on a small creek in Katmai. This creek is not often fished but is sometimes absolutely loaded with nice rainbows up to the mid 20 - inch range. The best flesh fishing is just after about half of the spawning sockeyes have died and there is a lot of flesh but less fresh eggs. This is when I like to switch to flesh from eggs. A size 4 or 6 eliminates a lot of the smaller fish on any river but small flesh sometimes works great, so I keep them handy.
I was working for a large lodge with one floatplane and far too many guests. Hence I was guiding 3 doctors and an attorney. On this river there is a little hike to where the spawning starts. It is not difficult and everyone made it fine to the first hole with gravel and rocks, the starting point of the spawning water. I had fished the river 3 days prior and it was excellent but the Docs were in for a treat. It became apparent the second a flesh went in the water and trout were attacking. I had to get into gear as the guys were landing fish pretty fast. All but one of them had quite a bit of experience and their own nets so they did not need as much supervision landing and releasing trophies. I took Dave, the attorney under my wing. As a fly-fishing rookie and a funny guy, all day we had a blast landing fish after fish. I have video of him laughing silly while a huge bow rips line off his reel and he has no idea what to do.
The funny part of the story is that one of the Docs had bunions so bad he could hardly walk by the time reached the plane at the end of the day. But the second we landed back at the lodge he signed up to go back to that same creek 2 days later. 2 days later was another melee of hug trout in a little creek. I still watch that video sometimes just for a good chuckle.