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Salmon fishing winds down as trout picks up

BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News Juvenile rainbow trout from the April egg-take on Fort Richardson were the first fish to arrive last summer at the new William "Jack" Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery operated by the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game. The trout now weigh about 15 grams and are approximately four inches long. They will be ready to stock lakes throughout Alaska as "catchables," as soon as the ice goes out this spring. Bill Roth

Salmon fishing is petering out, although chums, pinks and silvers are still spawning in the rivers. The guys at Mountain View Sports Center in Anchorage report that rainbow fishing in the Mat-Su has been good lately. Water conditions in the Parks Highway streams are excellent. They suggest trying small sculpins or egg patterns. We would add that this time of year you always want to have a variety of flesh flies -- pink, ginger, off-white -- with you as well.

It's also a good idea to keep a few maggot flies in your fly box, just in case the water level rises enough to start washing over those decaying salmon carcasses. More on maggots and trout fishing in a minute.

We like to fish the smaller, lighter patterns and beads on a 6-weight floating line, with a 9- or 10-foot leader. For the heavier flesh flies and leeches, we prefer a 10-foot sink tip line with about 36 inches of mono.

Reds in the Upper Kenai are actively spawning, so the rainbows and dollies are gorging on eggs. Same prescription as for the Parks streams.

In saltwater, Prince William Sound has been producing some silvers lately, according to the Mountain View crew. They recommend using hoochies tipped with herring. The fish generally seem to be running 25- to 50-feet deep. Valdez has also been fishing well from shore.

Pike fishing in the Nancy Lake system is good and improving with the lower water temperatures. Early mornings or late afternoons are the best. South Rolly, Nancy and Red Shirt lakes are most promising. Try trolling herring, or casting gold weedless spoons into the shallows.

Around Anchorage try some of our local streams for rainbows and dollies. Campbell and Chester are our top choices. Symphony Lake is still fishing great for grayling.

Now, about those maggots ... We were thinking about them after coming home from a week-long Bristol Bay float trip. The rainbow fishing was predictably terrific, and the weather, by Iliamna-in- September standards, was fantastic. Of course, there were mouldering salmon everywhere and lots of maggots on them.

So we did a little reading about maggots, and came across a description of a technique used by Englishmen to poach from private streams two hundred years ago. The poachers would kill a hare and hang its body over the water at a promising spot. As the rabbit decayed, flies laid eggs and the maggots multiplied until they started falling off the carcass, creating a trout feeding station. The poacher would return with a line, a hook and some live maggots. It was apparently a pretty effective way to steal the lord's fish.

In Alaska, we're all for tempting trout with bunnies, we just recommend doing it with rabbit fur wrapped on a hook. They're easy to find in the "streamers" section of your favorite fly shop.

This is the final fishing report in print this season. For the most comprehensive information every day, check the links on adn.com/outdoors/sportfishing. In addition to reports from Department of Fish and Game biologists across the state, you will find lots of photos in the Nice Catch galleries, links to current weather, river and stream flows, tide charts, fish counts, salmon run timing, and how-to videos. You can also buy a fishing license online, check the regulations, read a blog with the latest fishery closures and emergency orders, and sign up for our fishing newsletter email.

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