Meet the Fish: Sheefish
Also called Inconnu, these large freshwater fish are found only in the Arctic and high Sub-Arctic regions of the state. These large-scaled silvery fighters are available from June to October with peak fishing in July and August. Often called "The Tarpon of the North" based on the similarity of appearance to the renowned game fish, the sheefish averages 5-20 lbs with some river systems having fish that can reach 50 lbs or more.
Gear and Flies
The angler armed with a fast-action 8 -10 weight rod will easily be able to hold their own against all but the largest of sheefish. Reels should be of the large-arbor variety, and should also be equipped with a smooth operating drag system. Depending upon the method of presentation, fly line choices include sinking tip lines, weight-forward floating lines, and multi-tip systems to deliver your offering to the proper depth. The inconnu is mostly piscivorous (it feeds primarily on other fish), so the fly selection of the sheefish angler should include minnow patterns of many colors and sizes.
For single hand rods, fast action 9-10 rods are ideal for making long casts, throwing big flies, and fighting these fish hard. Sheefish are very fragile, so being able to land and release them quickly is essential for practicing catch & release. Switch and Spey rods can be really good weapons for reaching those fish that are sitting out of range with a single hand rod. Look to use 8 wt. 11' - 14' rods that are rated to throw lines in the 480-600 grain window.
Sheefish are often referred to as the Tarpon of the North. Reels should have really good drag systems with lots of stopping power. Good line capacity should also be considered as the rivers Sheefish inhabit tend to have long fast runs, which can lead to your backing disappearing quickly.
Sheefish tend to hold along the bottom, ambushing their prey as they get swept along with the current. Fast sink tips in varying lengths are key to getting your fly into the zone. Check out lines like Rio's 10' Streamer Tip, Airflo's Streamer Max Short or Rio's Cold Water Outbound in Type 6. For Switch and Spey, Skagit Compact lines with heavy sink tips are a must.
Sheefish are predators and they love bait fish. Saltwater bait fish patterns like Mega Clouser Minnows, Bad Sea Habits and Half n' Half Deceivers are all go to patterns. Green, chartreuse and blue are good color choices.