Dave Atcheson ties a fly for fly fishing at Kenai Peninsula College’s student service Thursday March 8 in Soldotna. Atcheson teaches a beginning fly fishing course at the college that is open to the public. Deadline for registration is March 19. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Spring into the fishing season

On a lake somewhere in Alaska sometime before he became the avid fly tier he is today, Dave Atcheson had big excitement for catching a small trout.

“I had tied a wooly bugger fly, which is really a simply tie to fly” said Atcheson, author of ‘Fishing Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula: A Complete Angler’s Guide,” and a fly fishing instructor at Kenai Peninsula College. “I was out in the lakes with a friend and I caught a fish on a fly that I tied, it was the first one I caught on a fly that I tied and I was really excited. My friend looked at me like I was crazy, being excited over a simple 12 inch trout, but he didn’t realize that I tied it.”

As an avid sport fisher, Atcheson has a tackle box full of stories to tell but can summarize his passion for fly fishing with a simple phrase.

“There’s a connection to something bigger than us when we’re outdoors,” he said.

Fly fishing takes into account every aspect of the environment, making the angler aware of each insect, each fish, the different life cycles, the current, the weather and more, he said.

“Nothing puts you so into the environment like fly fishing,” Atcheson said. “When you’re all attuned to that, you dissolve into a different place.”

Atcheson looks to share this excitement and his passion through his beginning fly fishing course at Kenai Peninsula College and by supporting local fly tying events like Trout Unlimited’s Tie One On, a fly tying night at Main Street Grill in Kenai on March 20 at 6:30 p.m.

“They’re both for beginners, to make you comfortable with the whole world of fly tying,” Atcheson said.

Registration for this year’s fly fishing course at the college closes on March 19 and Atcheson warns that seats fill up quick and gives an in depth understanding of fly fishing, along with a field trip to the Kenai River. The Tie One On event is open to all skill levels and ages, giving an overview of equipment and how-to.

“You really save a lot of time by learning from folks, rather than hit or miss out on the river,” Atcheson said.

Atcheson would also recommend a course or event for any fishermen new to Alaska, because fishing in the state is a “whole different ballgame.”

“In Alaska, a lot of times we’re fishing with some part of salmon, so flesh flies are our big thing here,” Atcheson said.

Luckily, flesh flies are easy to tie since they are small “pieces of fuzz” on a hook, colored to match the decaying salmon flesh in the river. They are a good practice for a beginning fly tier, and always useful when fishing Alaska’s rivers.

“I tie a lot of flesh flies because I use them a lot and they disappear quickly,” Atcheson said. He also recommends any angler ensure their tackle box is stocked with a lot of each variety of flies.

“If seems to always be your luck that whatever they’re biting is the one fly you only have one of,” he said.

So, as the final stretch before thawed rivers and warmer fishing passes by, it’s a perfect time to learn how to tie flies.

“Because once you start catching fish on a fly rod, you want to catch every fish on a fly rod,” Atcheson said.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com

LEFT: Dave Atcheson displays a fly that resembles a small mouse, which would be useful in western Alaska where the small animals are a major food source for local fish. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

Dave Atcheson ties a fly for fly fishing at Kenai Peninsula College’s student service Thursday March 8 in Soldotna. Atcheson teaches a beginning fly fishing course at the college that is open to the public. Deadline for registration is March 19. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

RIGHT: Dave Atcheson ties a wooly bugger for fly fishing at Kenai Peninsula College’s student service Thursday March 8 in Soldotna. Atcheson teaches a beginning fly fishing course at the college that is open to the public. Deadline for registration is March 19. (Photo by Kat Sorensen/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

COVID-19. (Image CDC)
38 new resident COVID-19 cases seen

It was the largest single-day increase in new cases of COVID-19 among Alaska residents.

Anglers practice social distancing on the upper Kenai River in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in late June 2020. (Photo provided by Nick Longobardi/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Exploring the Kenai’s backyard

Refuge to start open air ranger station

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna, Alaska, is seen here on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly approves plan for COVID-19 relief funds

The borough is receiving $37,458,449, which will be provided in three installments.

‘We need to make changes now’

Millions in small business relief funds remain unclaimed.

Brian Mazurek / Peninsula Clarion 
                                Forever Dance Alaska performs for the crowd during the 2019 Fourth of July parade in Kenai. The team will not be performing in the parade this year due to the new coronavirus pandemic. They will instead perform during an outside July 4 production hosted by Kenai Performers.
The show must go on

American icons to take stage in outdoor July 4 performance

Soldotna’s Chase Gable, a customer service agent with Grant Aviation, prepares to load and unload baggage from a plane at Kenai Municipal Airport on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Airport sees decline in traffic in wake of pandemic, Ravn exit

Passengers leaving Kenai this year through May are down 18,000.

Registered Nurse Cathy Davis (left) and Chief Nursing Officer Dawn Johnson (right) work at a table to get COVID-19 tests ready for the public Friday, May 29, 2020 at the Boat House Pavilion on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. South Peninsula Hospital is now offering free COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people with no appointments necessary at the Boat House Pavilion through June 6. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
3 cities, 3 testing strategies

Peninsula communities take different approaches to COVID-19 testing.

Cars pass the City of Homer advisory signs on Wednesday morning, June 24, 2020, at Mile 172 Sterling Highway near West Hill Road in Homer, Alaska. The sign also reads “Keep COVID-19 out of Homer.” (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Don’t get complacent,’ governor says of pandemic

Alaska saw 36 new cases of COVID-19 in residents and 12 new nonresident cases.

Refuge reopens some trails to public

Burn areas provide new views

Most Read