Terrific Tangle Lakes

2015 Denali Highway MacLaren Lodge Nadine & Jack’s Tangle River Inn Tangle Lakes

Some of our trips just keep getting better, better, and better, and the Tangle Lakes trip is one of them! It’s almost unbelievable to think that four people could each catch more than fifty fish a day, but at Tangle Lakes they can. The Arctic grayling in the streams there are absolutely incredible in many ways. They will eagerly grab dry flies, nymphs, small streamers, ants, and even small bass poppers, so if one type of fly stops working, we can just switch to another.

This year we had a couple of guests from Canada join us along with a woman from Anchorage and one from Houston, They all went crazy because they had so many fly choices and so much perfect grayling water to fish them in.

Mike and Bonnie, from Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, were the first to book for the trip because Mike is an absolute grayling fanatic and he wanted to see the fish that I raved about in my Flyfishing for Alaska’s Arctic Grayling: Sailfish of the North, book. He was in grayling heaven every day he declared. His wife, Bonnie is newer to fly fishing, but is as avid a devotee as you could ever want. She couldn’t get enough of seeing the fish and marveling at their exquisite coloration. Deb is an Alaskan that fishes with me frequently and is also a grayling lover. Sue is a Texan just learning to fish with the fly rod. There’s no better fish to learn on they all told her, and they were right. They all had a blast.

It was fun for them to see fish rise for dry flies, and they all kept changing their flies from time to time just to see if they could find one that the fish wouldn’t take. They declared the elk-hair caddis and royal Wulffs to be the most successful. Bead head nymphs, and those without the bead did equally well in all of the various spots that we sampled, and, of course, the goofy ant patterns that I tie had them all in hysterics watching the fish scramble to get at them.

We tried several creeks and had good luck in all of them. The weather was good, but, as a result, very, very buggy. One of our locations had such an incredible view of glaciers and mountains that their breezes enabled us to take off our head nets from time to time.

Driving the Denali Highway from place to place enabled us to encounter moose, caribou, ptarmigan hens with their babies as well as swans with their youngsters. We were particularly enthralled by several different pair of falcons and a yellow warbler that many birders come to see. Thankfully, the state decided not to pave the road a few years back or we might not have such a wonderful mix of wildlife. Besides wildlife, the area also sports lots of berries, blueberries especially, and they were just getting ripe while we were there. I especially enjoy the wildflowers, as well but they were about over. Early August is already Fall in this part of the north country.

We had hoped to have good water to do some Czech nymphing, but the water was low everywhere, which made that difficult. Other nymphs such as the gold-ribbed hare’s ear performed magnificently, however. From the copper John to the pheasant tail they all enticed the fish. Occasionally we would try a hopper/dropper combination even though there aren’t any grasshoppers around, and, they too paid off.

Two wonderful, small lodges always makes our trip special as well. Susie & Alan’s MacLaren lodge, and Nadine & Jack’s Tangle River Inn are both welcoming to everyone touring the Highway. Both have wonderful food and atmosphere, and you’ll feel like you are in the “real” Alaska when visiting them.

Come on and skitter the ants with us for grayling in this amazing place in 2016. We’ll be waiting to hear from you.


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