In early May, when fly anglers in the lower 48 are kissing the Hendrickson hatch goodbye and welcoming in the Ephemerella
sulphurs, interior Alaska is still in the midst of a season we call "break-up." With temperatures in the 50s and most of the snow gone at our altitude, it's no longer winter in Fairbanks. But it's not spring yet, either. The trees show no sign of green. The rivers, swollen with mountain snowmelt, are still choked with massive chunks of their meter-thick winter ice, crashing through the riffles and sharp bends in a thunderous racket as the river carries them down toward the Yukon and the Bering Sea.
If you think this does not sound like dry fly weather, you're right.
The first good fishing of the year is less delicate: it involves heavy spinning gear, ounces of lead, size 2/0 hooks, and dead, cut fish. The reward is the burbot, the world's only freshwater cod, a fish more delicious than its saltwater counterparts. I'm happy to catch burbot at any time of year, but they're especially sweet after 7 months of winter!