During spring and early summer, food sources with high protein content are relatively scarse in Alaska's streams and rivers. Most aquatics are still weeks or months away from emergence. But resident species of fish living in waters used by salmon for spawning are keen to key on an early smorgasboard.
Each spring Alaska's salmon streams begin to "bloom" with salmon fry as they emerge from their gravel incubation beds. Tens and perhaps hundreds of millions of these tiny salmon work their way from the gravel of each stream to begin their life cycle as prey and predator. Scarcely an inch or so long, they become food for a great number of fish and wildlife, especially terns and gulls who are awaiting the out-migration of salmon smolts. Resident rainbow trout, Dolly Varden and Arctic grayling as well as sheefish will target salmon fry.
A realistic pattern can be painstaking to tie so I opt to purchase mine from catalogs instead. The pattern shown here is somewhat generic in form but has worked on anadromous Dolly Varden just entering rivers such as the Kenai in early May. I've also found it to be an acceptable imitation of tiny sticklebacks which rainbow trout feed on in the fall in many lakes to fatten up before winter. This pattern is usually only 1 1/4 inches long and uses a #8 or #10 hook.