To attack seals, a great white shark charges from the depths and bashes into the unsuspecting target from below, launching its prey into the air and causing the seal to hit the water with a stunning smack. While about one thousandth the size of these prehistoric seal slayers, rainbow trout (and occasionally brown trout) use a similar tactic to pummel and stun mice. Involving a series of body checks and concussions, followed by brutal consumption, fly fishing for trout with a mouse pattern may well be the closest angling gets to the NFL. This relatively elusive technique has recently gained in popularity with traveling anglers – for good reason.
For trout, mice are a hefty, delectable source of protein. If a grown man were presented the choice of prime rib or a mini-muffin, chances are he will go straight for the slab of meat, much like a hyena focusing on a carcass. The same goes for trout – a mouse provides a quick meal that is packed full of calories. And because mice rarely plop directly into the river within easy feeding range, for a trout, it’s the equivalent of having a rib-eye steak fall from the sky.
While mouse fishing can be extremely exciting, it definitely takes a bit of time and practice to understand the unusual takes and techniques required to fish mouse patterns successfully. Our instincts as fishermen tell us to set as soon as we see action on the fly. In this instance, however, the angler must be patient. It is essential to wait for the full eat, and then wait some more. The best hook-ups on a mouse pattern often occur unexpectedly, when an angler is lost in the scenery and a rainbow smacks down the fly, inadvertently getting the chance to completely eat the pattern. Upon noticing this not-so-subtle bump, the angler sets the line a few seconds later – again inadvertently – at the perfect moment! But when an angler is actually focused on the fly and paying attention, delaying the set can be one of the hardest things to do, especially since the body checks on the fly are incredibly aggressive, violent, and fast. Once mastered, however, mousing can be one of the most enthralling trout fishing scenarios found anywhere.
There are a few places that, in our opinion, stand out as legitimate destinations in which to land trophy trout on big, gnarly rodent patterns. Here are some of Yellow Dog’s top destinations for “getting your mouse on.”
1) Kamchatka (Currently Closed Due to Unrest)
Without question, Kamchatka is THE best place in the world to land a trophy rainbow trout on a topwater mouse pattern. It is as good as it gets, and in honesty, no place even comes close when it comes to skating and swinging rodent patterns. This is not a cheap trip, and simply getting there takes some time and effort, but once you step into the water, the hype that you have heard for years immediately becomes legit. Upon arriving to the Ozernaya River for a recent Yellow Dog hosted trip, the guide instructed us to grab a jar and catch a few mice for fishing. After a few double takes, we realized he was kidding and headed out to the water rigged with 0X tippets and large Morrish Mouse patterns. None of us were prepared for what we experienced. Kamchatka rainbows absolutely crush mouse patterns, often times coming back to check out the same fly up to four or five times after they initially miss it or it is prematurely pulled away. It’s pretty unbelievable until you realize that many of these trout have never seen a fly pattern EVER – let alone a skated mouse. The trout are massive and the takes are the most aggressive we have seen anywhere in the world.
2) Enchanted Lake Lodge
A prime location within Katmai National Park combined with an insanely experienced guide staff and some really great airplanes makes for deadly trout fishing. If hooking up on a mouse pattern is high on your list, there is probably no better crew of guides who can help you accomplish your goal. One of the finest fishing lodges on the planet, these guys do things right!
3) Alaska West
Located on the banks of the Kanektok River, Alaska West is a hardcore fishing operation with some of the “fishiest” guides around. The staff has perfected targeting big “leopard” bows and they definitely enjoy throwing mice when the conditions are right. Recently, MSNBC News published an article on a 19-inch rainbow trout that was found on the Kanektok River with 20 shrews in its stomach. That would be equivalent to an adult human eating roughly 20 kittens. It might be said that “shrewing” on some rivers is the next best thing to mousing.
4) Aniak River Lodge
Aniak River Lodge is located in Western Alaska in the Kuskokwim River drainage. Being the only lodge on the river, Aniak River Lodge has exclusive access to nearly 60 miles of pristine river and tributaries making this an extraordinary angling experience. For any mouse lover, this is an exceptional fishery right up your alley!
5) Alaska Rainbow Adventures
Here is your opportunity to experience the Alaskan wilderness like no other! Alaska Rainbow Adventures provides the best Alaska fly fishing float trips and on some of the most fabled Alaskan waters. Their deluxe camping accommodations are as close as you will ever get to staying in a lodge while on a float trip and their three decades of Alaska experience provide anglers who want to get “off-the-grid” with an intimate knowledge of an entire watershed unmatched by other operations.
6) White River, Arkansas
The mouse fishing on the White River in Arkansas may be the best in the lower 48. Just search "White River mouse fishing" into a search engine and you'll get the idea! While guides mostly target behemoth-sized brown trout on mouse patterns at night, which is preferred, anglers can also find success in the early morning hours. Check out our lodge and guiding operations in Arkansas.
On a final note
As weird as this sounds – many anglers who are intent on finding great mouse fishing also have concerns that the legitimate mousing areas are logically infested with rodents, which means that mice will be everywhere (in the rooms, in the tents, in the kitchen, etc,) We can tell that this is not something that you have to worry about AT ALL! (Again, it is strange to have to state this, but it is a question that we get all the time when discussing mouse fishing scenarios!) Your only worry is this: set the hook…after the trout lays the smackdown on your giant skated Micky Mouse fly.
Get Ready For Your Next Mouse Fly Fishing Trip
+ Shop Our Selection Of Mouse Flies
- Alaska Fly Fishing Trips by the Seasons
- 6 Best Alaska Fly Fishing Rivers
- How to Prepare for an Alaskan Fly Fishing Trip
- 6 Popular Alaska Fish Species to Catch on the Fly
- The Top Flies for Alaska: What You Should Have in Your Fly Box
- How to Prepare for a Kamchatka Fly Fishing Trip