Everything You Want to Know About Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus)


The male arctic char develops brilliant spawning colors in fall.
Photo by Nils Rinaldi from Lausanne, Switzerland, via Wikimedia Commons

The spectacular spawning colors of the male make the Arctic char one of the most photogenic game fish, but you must head to the far north or the high country of Europe to find. . .


The male arctic char develops brilliant spawning colors in fall.
Photo by Nils Rinaldi from Lausanne, Switzerland, via Wikimedia Commons

The spectacular spawning colors of the male make the Arctic char one of the most photogenic game fish, but you must head to the far north or the high country of Europe to find them.

The northernmost freshwater fish in the world, the Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) is found across the arctic, which may explain why not much is known about its life history and habits. Most fish are lake-dwelling, but there are also sea-run populations that offer spectacular fishing when they return to their native rivers in places such as Canada’s Ungava Peninsula. There are few trophy pictures as colorful as those of a double-digit male Arctic char in full spawning regalia.

Range and Life History
The range of the Arctic char is wide and varied. They are found across the polar region, with the largest populations from northern Canada to Scandinavia, where they were an important food source for native peoples. They are also present in isolated populations throughout the United Kingdom, where they live in deep, cold lakes, and in the high Alps as far south as Italy. Because of their value as table fare, they have been widely introduced and successfully farmed, as well.


Swinging streamers can be productive for aggressively feeding char.
Photo courtesy Greg Senyo, Steelhead Alley Outfitters

North America is home to three subspecies of Arctic char. Salvelinus alpinus erythrinus are anadromous and range across Canada’s northern coast. The legendary Sunapee trout or the “blueback” trout, Salvelinus alpinus oquassa, inhabited lakes in eastern Quebec and northern New England, although it is now extinct in most of its eastern United States range. Dwarf Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus taranetzi), also called Taranets char, often inhabit the same lakes as the larger species, but they feed on different forage and live in different habitats.

Not much is known about the habits of the Arctic char, though they are thought to spawn every other year after reaching maturity at the age of six to nine years. The fish are slow-growing in the frigid arctic; specimens often live longer than 20 years, and the oldest fish ever recorded was believed to be 40 years old. Like all chars, they spawn in the fall, entering rivers from the ocean or large lakes or depositing their eggs along rocky shoals deep enough to survive winter ice. The spawning run is not long, and most fish remain in the lower reaches of rivers.


In Alaska’s Kanektok River, big char follow the salmon to feast on eggs.
Photo by Chris Morgan, www.twosherpas.com

Char or Dolly?
The Arctic char is closely related to the Dolly Varden, and their ranges overlap more than most people think, which means you may find both in the same region. However, distinguishing between the two species by sight is very difficult. In general, Arctic char have a shorter head, a more deeply forked tail, and larger spots. In males, the Arctic char will develop a less pronounced kype than a Dolly. To verify identification, it is necessary to count gill rakers, fin rays and pyloric caeca (parts of the intestines). Ultimately, however, anglers have no way of being certain which species they’ve landed.

Flies
Arctic char are opportunistic feeders, consuming more than 30 different species of vertebrates and invertebrates, which include insects, crustaceans, mollusks, smaller fish, and even other arctic char. Although lake-dwelling fish will strike dry flies and nymphs dry flies, the majority of large char are caught on large streamers or drifted egg patterns. Streamers for char tend to be garish and colorful—hot pink, yellow, and chartreuse are popular colors—and steelhead fishermen will find that they already have the flies they need. When fish are rising, a Black Gnat or Mosquito pattern is usually the ticket. Those patterns ought to be a hint for anglers: these fish live when biting bugs reach epic proportions. The world-record fish is a 32-pound, 9-ounce monster caught from Canada’s Tree River in 1981.

Podcast: How to be a Great Fly-Fishing Client, with Simon Perkins


Simon Perkins (right) with a client, in 2011.
Photo via Facebook


There’s lots of discussion about what makes a good guide and why some are better than others for a whole host of reasons. But the guide/angler connection is truly a team effort, and there are things a client can do to get more out of the experience and . . .



There’s lots of discussion about what makes a good guide and why some are better than others for a whole host of reasons. But the guide/angler connection is truly a team effort, and there are things a client can do to get more out of the experience and have a more enjoyable and educational trip. Simon Perkins, Orvis COO, was a fishing guide before he hung up his oars for an office job. He shares his experiences, good and bad, and suggests ways we can be better clients. He also shares a few stories about his best and worst days of being a guide and a client. A couple are quite colorful, and I think you’ll enjoy them.

In the Fly Box this week, we cover the following topics:

  • How can I roll-cast big streamers?
  • How do I fish streamers in small brook-trout streams?
  • What is the best tool for measuring water temperature, and how cold does water have to be before trout stop feeding?
  • Where is that new Clearwater Euro-nymphing rod?
  • Can I use my 5-weight rod for surf-fishing in the ocean?
  • Are wool fingerless gloves any good?
  • Is 20-lb fluorocarbon too light for the butt section of a leader?
  • What are gut leaders?
  • Is a UV light essential for fly tying?
  • Is roll casting more difficult with a shorter rod?
  • My wife and I fished some big articulated streamers and had no luck. What were we doing wrong?
  • I have a pile of old flies. How do I identify what they are?

If you don’t see the “Play” button above, click here to listen.


Simon Perkins (right) with a client, in 2010.
Photo via Facebook

Friday Fly-Fishing Film Festival 01.18.19

Welcome to the another edition of the Orvis News Friday Fly-Fishing Film Festival! Each week, we scour the Web for the best fly-fishing videos available and then serve them up for you to . . .

Welcome to the another edition of the Orvis News Friday Fly-Fishing Film Festival! Each week, we scour the Web for the best fly-fishing videos available and then serve them up for you to enjoy. This week, we’ve got thirteen glorious videos to help you get through this winter weekend, and the number of tropical salt clips will certainly help. But don’t worry, trout nuts, for there are plenty salmonids on display, as well.

For best results, watch all videos at full-screen and in high definition. Remember, we surf so you don’t have to. But if you do stumble upon something great that you think is worthy of inclusion in a future F5, please post it in the comments below, and we’ll take a look.

And don’t forget to check out the awesome Orvis fly-fishing video theater: The Tug. As of today, there are more than 1,250 great videos on the site!

We kick things off with the trailer for the latest film from RA Beattie. “NexGen” follows 12-year-old Jack as he experiences living in a fly fisherman’s house, witnesses the impact of fires on his home waters, and explores new waters on a road trip with his father and friends.

Here’s the third episode of the wonderful “Mosquitoes & Mayflies” series from Rolf Nylinder and featuring Håvard Stubø of Jazz & Fly Fishing.

The title of this video is inscrutable to me and to Google, but the fly-fishing action for giant trevally and other species is cool as all get-out.

Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions serves up some brown-trout action from a recent trip to Argentina.

Captain Quinn makes a powerful argument for why chickens make the best fly-fishing companions. Plus: steelhead.

Our pal Ken Tanaka from Wish4Fish just released this cool trailer for an upcoming video about his trip to Belize.

Most videos by Gareth, a.k.a. Trout Hunting NZ, are a bit too talky for my taste, but this one cuts to the good stuff at about the 1:00 mark. Then it’s just pure trout joy.

Cool super-slo-mo clip of Capt. David Mangum and a tarpon in this trailer for “Bounce.”

A couple of students go in search of big bonefish at the northern end of Ambergris Cay in Belize.

The scenery in this video from Argentina’s southern Patagonia is glorious, and the fishing looks pretty good, as well.

Afternoon fun chasing tunas boils in Calm water in Costa Rica. Might wanna turn the sound down for this one.

The dry-fly fishing on these Swedish streams is the stuff of which dreams are made.

Finally, here’s a great 20-minute video focused on fall fishing for giant rainbows on Alaska’s Naknek River, but it’s about a lot more.

Top 10 Flies for Winter in the Northeast

Written by: Joe Demalderis, Cross Current Guide Service and Outfitters


Capt. Joe Demalderis (left) and his fellow guides offer ten patterns for winter on their home waters.
Photo via Facebook

Winter in the northeast and on the waters I call home, the Upper Delaware System, can vary greatly in conditions. Where you can legally fish is also a consideration, with many waters closed to fishing to protect spawning trout, so always be certain to . . .

Written by: Joe Demalderis, Cross Current Guide Service and Outfitters


Capt. Joe Demalderis (left) and his fellow guides offer ten patterns for winter on their home waters.
Photo via Facebook

Winter in the northeast and on the waters I call home, the Upper Delaware System, can vary greatly in conditions. Where you can legally fish is also a consideration, with many waters closed to fishing to protect spawning trout, so always be certain to check the regulations.

Winter can be fierce, or it can be mellow, with each year showing some variance. With that in mind, I like to break it down to early, mid, and late winter. Early winter can be fall-like at times with mid-winter having the potential to be downright brutal. Late winter can be anything from spring-like to that sick feeling that spring is never going to arrive.

Our guides at Cross Current Guide Service and Outfitters are serious trout bums, so I asked them to give up some of their favorites.

1. Woolly Bugger (size 10)
In  black or olive, I can fish this fly to mimic many critters trout feed on. Guide Justin Lyle’s winter favorite is a white Beadhead Woolly Bugger.  He likes to strip it painfully slowly or swing it on a sink tip.

2. Pheasant Tail Nymph (sizes 16-20)
Another standard, this fly can often save the day. Add a flashback and have a party.

3. Stonefly Nymph (sizes 8-10)
I’m not as selective as a trout. As long as it’s black or brown and has rubber legs, I’m good with it.  I think you’ll find many trout feel the same way.

4. Zebra Midge (sizes 18-22)
Because midges never seem to go away. I typically fish this fly in tandem with a larger fly, such as Pheasant Tail, Stonefly, or Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymph, which brings me to . . .

5. Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear Nymph (sizes 20-24)
It’s buggy, and oh, that gold bling. Bon appetit, Mr. Trout!

6. Ice Cream Cone Midge (size 16)
Although it sounds like a summer treat, this is one of guide Ryan Furtak’s winter favorites. “Midges are one of the primary food sources for trout during the cold months. I like this pattern because it simply works, and the fish love it even more.”

7.Beadhead Egg (size 10)
This is one of guide Anita Coulton’s winter go to flies. “This pattern is super simple and versatile: it can be bounced along the bottom of deep holes or elicit takes in fast riffles. I prefer the bead, which helps it penetrate the water column quickly and allows the use of a tight line or contact-nymphing set up.”

8. MT’s CDC Winter Stonefly (sizes 14-18)
Always looking for the dry-fly opp, John Miller wouldn’t be caught on the water without his favorite late-winter dry. “I use it as a dry when the opportunity arises. It’s also a great indicator dry in a shallow water dry /drop rig. Don’t be afraid to skate it on windy days!”.

9. Mini Sex Dungeon (size 6)
This is the fly Mike Bannon ties on in the winter. “I like that I can rip it, swing it, or jig it. I tie a heavier version with large dumbbell eyes for winter and keep the body very sparse. Favorite colors are black and olive. I always spin orange deer ahead of my first spin of hair, like an orange hot spot. As far as retrieve, I’ll start fast, switch to a vertical jig, and then, if it’s not getting any love, I’ll swing it slowly through the runs.”

10. Griffith’s Gnat (sizes 18-22)
On those warm winter days that we all long for, where the wind is still and the trout sip midges, guide Tim Oliphant will tie on a Griffiths Gnat is size 18 to 22. It’s not just the nostalgia of fishing a fly developed by George Griffith, one of the founders of Trout Unlimited, it also has a lot to do with the fact that it works so well.

Joe Demalderis operates Cross Current Guide Service and Outfitters, guiding for trout and smallmouths on New York’s Upper Delaware system and for striped bass and bluefish off Northern New Jersey. He’s also a former Trout Bum of the Week.

MT’s CDC Winter Stonefly

          Thread: Black, 8/0.
          Hook: Standard dry-fly hook, sizes 14-18.
          Body: Dark brown or dark gray beaver dubbing.
          Wing:  Dun CDC.
          Hackle: Black.
          Notes: Dub a sparse body. Tie the wing full and twice the length of the body. Clip the hackle flush with the bottom of the fly.

Take a Classic Phil Monahan Fly-Fishing Trivia Challenge 01.17.19

Welcome to another edition of our weekly trivia challenge, in which we test your knowledge of all things fly fishing and where you might learn a thing or two about this sport we love. This week, we’ve got a classic quiz, featuring 10 questions about famous . . .

Welcome to another edition of our weekly trivia challenge, in which we test your knowledge of all things fly fishing and where you might learn a thing or two about this sport we love. This week, we’ve got a classic quiz, featuring 10 questions about famous authors, fish species, fly tiers, and lots more!

The last quiz was must have been pert-darn easy, as there were eleven perfect scores! Give it up for BillW, Steve B., Peter D, Brian Epstein, Rod Jones, Paul, fausto, Randy, Peter, Paul D DeJohn, and Andy Feige! Another twelve people scored 90%–most didn’t know that there are two tarpon species–and the most common score leaped back up to 60%!

The winner of this week’s random drawing will receive a copy of Arlen Thomason’s book BugWater: A Fly Fisher’s Look Through the Seasons at Bugs in Their Aquatic Habitat and the Fish That Eat Them, from Stackpole Books. Organized around the seasons, BugWater follows the bugs and the trout through their life cycles from spring through winter. Thomason’s stunningly striking photos and fascinating narratives show off the bugs up close, in amazing detail. With the author’s insights as both a scientist and fly fisher and his expertise as a photographer, this book delivers solid content all fly fishers can learn from.

The winner of our last quiz (as determined by random.org), and recipient of Chico Fernandez’s great book Fly Fishing for Bonefish, is Paul Mohler, whose score wasn’t something to write home about. But he still gets an awesome book.

So post your score below (or below the post on our Facebook page!) for a chance to win a great book.

Good luck!

Tom Rosenbauer to Receive 2019 Izaak Walton Award


Clockwise from top right: Tom as a youngster in western New York, as part of the Orvis Fly Fishing School faculty, on the water in Vermont, and with a huge Labrador brook trout.

The American Museum of Fly Fishing–in Manchester, Vermont–has announced that the recipient of this year’s Izaak Walton Award will be our own Tom Rosenbauer. The Izaak Walton Award was established in 2014 to honor and celebrate individuals . . .


Clockwise from top right: Tom as a youngster in western New York, as part of the Orvis Fly Fishing School faculty, on the water in Vermont, and with a huge Labrador brook trout.

The American Museum of Fly Fishing–in Manchester, Vermont–has announced that the recipient of this year’s Izaak Walton Award will be our own Tom Rosenbauer. The Izaak Walton Award was established in 2014 to honor and celebrate individuals who live by the “Compleat Angler” philosophy. Their passion for the sport of fly fishing and their involvement in the angling community provides inspiration for others and promotes the legacy of leadership for future generations. Tom will be joining other fly-fishing leaders who have received this award including Ed Jaworowski (2014), Tom Davidson (2015), James Prosek (2016), Jim Klug (2017), and Rachel Finn (2018).

In the announcement of this year’s award-winner, here’s what the museum said about Tom:

Tom Rosenbauer, host of the Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast, has been with the Orvis Company over 40 years, where he has served as a fishing-school instructor, copywriter, public-relations director, merchandise manager, catalog director, and editor of The Orvis News for 10 years. He is currently Marketing Director for Orvis Rod and Tackle.

Tom has been a fly fisher for more than 45 years, and was a commercial fly tier by age 14. He has fished extensively across North America, as well as on Christmas Island, the Bahamas, in Kamchatka, and on the fabled English chalk streams. He is credited with bringing beadhead flies to North America, and is the inventor of the Big Eye hook, Magnetic Net Retriever, and tungsten beads for fly tying. He has more than a dozen fly-fishing books currently in print, including The Orvis Fly-Tying Guide, which won a 2001 National Outdoor Book Award.

For his extraordinary knowledge, accomplishments, and innovations in the sport of fly fishing and his dedication to sharing his skills through his podcast, as a writer, and teacher on the water, Tom is truly a worthy honoree for the 2019 Izaak Walton Award.

Tom will receive his award at a ceremony at The Angler’s Club of New York in March.

Click here for more information and to buy tickets to the ceremony.

Wednesday Wake-Up Call


Florida’s new Governor, Ron DeSantis, made the environment a centerpiece of his campaign, but environmentalists wanted to see if he’d put his money where his mouth is. So far, the signs are promising, as Governor DeSantis . . .


Welcome to the latest installment of the Wednesday Wake-Up Call, a weekly roundup of the most pressing conservation issues important to anglers. Working with our friends at Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, The Everglades Foundation, Captains for Clean Water, Bullsugar.org, and Conservation Hawks (among others), we’ll make sure you’ve got the information you need to understand the issues and form solid opinions.

If you know of an important issue–whether it’s national or local–that anglers should be paying attention to, comment below, and we’ll check it out!

1. New Florida Governor Makes the Environment a Priority


Florida’s new Governor, Ron DeSantis, made the environment a centerpiece of his campaign, but environmentalists wanted to see if he’d put his money where his mouth is. So far, the signs are promising, as Governor DeSantis started moving quickly on water issues and efforts to restore The Everglades.

During his first week in office, he called for the resignations of all members of the South Florida Water Management Board, and two did so. The SFWMB’s recent actions have angered and frustrated those who hope to see the EAA Reservoir built as quickly as possible, to help restore the flow of water south of Lake Okeechobee.

Desantis also pledged to take strong measures to stop the devastating red tides that have been plaguing coastal waters, and has promised to re-fund many programs defunded by his predecessor. Hopefully, the tide has turned, and Florida’s water-quality problems will be addressed they ways they need to be.

2. Watch Full-Length Everglades Documentary “The Swamp” on PBS

As part of its “American Experience” series, PBS recently aired “The Swamp,” a two-and-a-half-hour documentary about the history of The Everglades and how we arrived at the present, dire situation. Here’s the description from PBS:

The history of the Everglades is a dramatic yet little known story of humanity’s attempt to conquer nature. The Swamp, told through the lives of a handful of colorful and resolute characters, explores the repeated efforts to reclaim, control and transform what was seen as a vast wasteland into an agricultural and urban paradise, and, ultimately, the drive to preserve America’s greatest wetland.

Click here to watch the full documentary.

3. Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Pebble Project Expected in late February

The current federal shutdown is not affecting the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (part of the Defense Department), so work continues on the Corps’s review of the proposed Pebble project. Once the review is released, there will be a 90-day comment period, during which the sporting community must make its voices heard loud and clear. Orvis will be working with Trout Unlimited to ensure that we flood Corps with comments from folks opposed to Pebble Mine and its threats to the environment, including the world’s last great wild-sockeye run. Stay tuned.

Click here for the full story.

4. Madison River Rules Committee Holds First Meeting


Many in Montana are worried that anglers are loving the Madison River to death. Last year, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks tried to regulate commercial use of the river, but the effort filed in the face of opposition. The new, 10-person Madison River Negotiated Rulemaking Committee is taking another run at the issue, but there’s a pretty high bar for any plan that comes out of these meetings:

Whatever comes out of the committee has to be agreed to by all the members. It would go to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, which would decide whether to put it out for public comment and later whether to adopt it.

Click here for the full story.

Photo of the Day: Perfect Timing


Roberts says he captured this image during a brief interlude between hookups on a banner day on the Green.
Photo by Doug Roberts, Old Moe Guide Service

Utahn Doug Roberts–who runs Old Moe Guide Service, based in the town of Dutch John, sent in this killer photo of a big brown getting ready to send a blue-winged olive down the hatch. Huge . . .


Roberts says he captured this image during a brief interlude between hookups on a banner day on the Green.
Photo by Doug Roberts, Old Moe Guide Service

Utahn Doug Roberts–who runs Old Moe Guide Service, based in the town of Dutch John, sent in this killer photo of a big brown getting ready to send a blue-winged olive down the hatch. Huge emergences of these olives occur during April and May on the Green River, bringing big trout to the surface to gorge after the long winter. Looks like a great place to kick off the spring!

Video: Why Fish Will Hold in Front of Rocks

Anglers talk a lot about “the fish behind that rock,” but too many of us overlook the trout lie in front of that rock. In this great video from The New Fly Fisher, Colin McKeown explains why fish will hold in the hydro cushion or . . .


Anglers talk a lot about “the fish behind that rock,” but too many of us overlook the trout lie in front of that rock. In this great video from The New Fly Fisher, Colin McKeown explains why fish will hold in the hydro cushion or “pillow” on the upstream side of an obstruction. There are also some cool graphics and underwater photographer that explain why the spot is so attractive to fish–even really big ones. After watching this, you’ll never overlook a good pillow again.

Video: How to Tie Landon Mayer’s Mini-Leech

Well known guide and author Landon Mayer’s Mini Leech is a perfect expression of his theory about “non-escaping prey”–that is, trout food that can’t swim or float away. There are times when trout are willing to chase down their . . .

Well known guide and author Landon Mayer’s Mini Leech is a perfect expression of his theory about “non-escaping prey”–that is, trout food that can’t swim or float away. There are times when trout are willing to chase down their food, and that’s when a stripped streamer works great. But in those situations where the fish aren’t willing to to the hard work–or if they simply follow a streamer and don’t strike–a non-escaping presentation, such a dead-drifting a streamer, is just the ticket. The Mini Leech offers lifelike action in the water, as the pine squirrel undulates like a real leech. So fish it on a dead drift, let it swing, and then strip it back. You can also try giving tiny twitches during the drift to really activate the pine squirrel.

In this week’s, Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions shows you how to tie a slim, durable version of this simple pattern. The fact that he takes the time to trim hi flash material before tying it in is a sign of his great attention to detail.


          Landon Mayer’s Mini-Leech
          Hook: Czech nymph hook (here a Fulling Mill 35065), size 14.
          Thread: Black, 8/0 or 70-denier.
          Underbody: Brown Holo Tinsel, medium.
          Rear Body: Brown Zonked Pine Squirrel.
          Front body: Black Ostrich herl.
          Adhesive: Sally Hansen Hard-As-Nails.