Sheefish or Inconnu On the Fly

by | Sep 6, 2021 | fly fishing for sheefish | 4 comments

sheefishSteve Fitzsimons has been a friend since he joined one of my Yellow Dog hosted trips to Brazil back in 2013.  He introduced me to his lady, Therese Rappazini, a few years later at the Pleasanton Fly Fishing Show.  Steve was getting Therese into fly fishing, and at a rapid pace – doing more learning at top world destinations than in their home state of California.


Fitzsimons-RappaziniIn 2019 Steve and Therese (Sammy too) were on my mentally difficult hosted Seychelles trip where we were canceled due to a cyclone.  Unfortunately we traveled the 8,000 miles there only to turn around and come home.  But they’re tough spirited adventure fly fishing travelers and here they are with me on the Yukon Drainage of Alaska on board the Midnight Sun.  Today Sammy and Steve fished together and I fished with Therese.


flyfishing-sheefishThe weather wasn’t good.  It rained all last night right up until about a ½ hour before we went fishing.  When we boarded the skiffs it was downright cold and windy with a little drizzle.  It would rain and drizzle all day.  The fish don’t mind such conditions so we bundled up went for it.  While the day started slow I still got to watch Therese put the hurt on some mid-day feeding pike.


The pike fishing truly was slow however.  Slow enough that our guide Scott called for an attempt at getting me my first ever sheefish on fly for my species list.  We motored upstream to a huge deep pool of strange funneling currents and seams.  The water was off color and there was plenty of debris floating.  But more importantly, a sheefish rolled on the surface.



When we saw that sheefish roll I knew we were in business.  And wouldn’t you know, on about my second cast I hooked into a big one.  Though sheefish don’t make a long run, they thrash and twist on the surface, both tactics for shaking a hook.  Sadly, thirty seconds into the fight this one got away.


Yukon-RiverI’m not after a sheefish (Stenodus leucichthys) (also known as the inconnu) this week just to knock it off my species list.  Sheefish really are cool.  They are salmonids and this one is the largest member of the whitefishes.  This being said, the mouth on them more resembles a tarpon than a whitefish and some nickname them the “tarpon of the north”.  In fact they are only found in the far far north.  We’re here, and we all need to catch one!


Midnight-Sun-sheefishI’ve been down the road of hooking a fish you really want to catch right off the bat but then losing it.  While it makes sense the next chance will come soon and you’ll catch him, it doesn’t always work that way.  That hook up would be my one and only during our 45 minute attempt.  Therese on the other hand had a fly they liked.  Therese hooked up with three and this one she brought to hand.  The catch was very exciting and the fish didn’t disappoint.  They are beautiful unique fish and I rattled off a heap of pictures.


currier-pikeAfter a good 30 minutes without another strike it was time to move back on to pike.  It was tough for me to be this close to my first sheefish and have to leave.  Scott had to twist my arm but I’m glad he did.  We went to one of his absolute favorite lakes and though the numbers of pike we caught weren’t good, they were big.  I landed three over 40”, including this donkey of a pike that was not only 46” but also fat.  This is the largest pike of my life.  Sorry for the mediocre photo but I made the catch during a downpour.


currier-sheefishWe had to pass through the sheefish hole again on the way home.  You know I convinced Scott to stop and allow me at least a dozen or so casts.  He agreed.  And deep inside I knew I was going to get it done.  Therese and I drank a beer during the boat ride from the pike lake back to the sheefish hole.  When we arrived I crushed my can and confidently said with a smile, “My next beer will be a celebration!”


Currier-inconnuMy statement was bold but I felt luck was on my side.  It took ten minutes but I hooked and landed my first sheefish.  It was a beauty and we got some nice photos.  Then I released him and drank my celebration beer.  And after my beer I caught another!


Though pike numbers today were lower than our first two days, Therese and I had a great day of fishing.  Strangely though, Steve and Sammy had a freakish slow day.  Steve caught five pike and Sammy only two all day long.  I guess that’s why we call it fishing.


flyfishing-alaskaWe arrived back at the Patriot mothership around 10 PM.  There’s still a little glimmer of daylight and it is as cold as a November day in Idaho.  Time for dinner and a good night sleep.  Sweet dreams with species number 422 dancing in my head!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Lance Tomar

    Very cool Jeff I understand those Sheefish can get real big! Looks like your weather luck continues to follow you.. Didn’t realize Farquhar Steve was joining you… good to see him again.

  2. Brian I

    Congrats on the new species!

  3. Jeff

    Thanks guys! I’m pretty stoked as you can imagine

  4. Paul "Harps"

    Congratulations on the new species!
    They’re high on my list- I’m working on a project with them and hopefully I’ll get a chance to catch one when I head north next season.

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!