Bristol Bay, Alaska Overview

Located roughly 300 miles southwest of Anchorage, the Bristol Bay region is home to the 4.09 million acre Katmai National Park and Preserve, the 1.2 million acre Becharof Wildlife Refuge, and the 1.6 million acre Wood-Tikchik State Park.  The area hosts Alaska’s most legendary trout and salmon streams including the largest run of sockeye salmon left in the world.  The number of lakes and rivers seem endless and the fishing opportunities similarly impressive.  From giant, ocean fresh king salmon, to acrobatic silver salmon, sockeye salmon by the millions and some of the largest rainbow trout in the country, the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska is one of the most prolific and consistent sport fisheries on the planet.

Fly Fish Bristol Bay offers the best fly fishing or light tackle fishing for all five species of pacific salmon as well as rainbow trout, grayling, char and pike.

THE FISHING

Bristol Bay is home to all five species of Pacific Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden and Arctic Char, Lake Trout, Grayling, and Northern Pike.  The river and lake systems are vast and unmolested by development.  The combination of massive wild salmon runs, pristine habitat, and a short summer season produces a target rich environment for anglers.

Season

June 15- October 20

SPECIES WE TARGET

The most legendary Alaskan fish, the King Salmon or Chinook Salmon, is coveted by anglers worldwide.  Their extraordinary size (20-40lbs in Bristol Bay rivers) often makes them the largest fish an angler has ever wrestled.  They challenge the sportsman by fighting hard with powerful runs, cartwheeling jumps, and immense power to break line or even straighten hooks.  Equipped with fat to help them through the long spawning process, their oily meat satisfies many palates.  With King Salmon in decline across the country, we encourage anglers to keep only what they will eat, choosing the prevalent sockeye salmon to share with their friends and families.

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Where and When do we target King Salmon?

There are many rivers in our area that hold fishable populations of King Salmon.  Kings enter the rivers as early as late May, and they continue running until the first week of August.  We target these fish from the third week of June until the end of July.

Mid June – 1st Week of July: Nushagak River

From mid June through the first week of July, we operate from a base camp on the lower Nushagak River near Portage Creek.  This is a very popular fishing destination where many tent camps and a few lodges are located.  Its popularity due to between 50,000 and 100,000 chinook salmon will move through the lower Nushagak during this three week period.  Double digit hookups are the norm for most anglers on these typical years. Most days we fish trolling spinners, dragging bait, or pulling plugs, but the Nushagak can be one of western Alaska’s best places to catch a king on a swung fly.  We encourage (and teach) the use of spey rods and ensure our reels are loaded with backing since the big water- big fish combination can empty a spool before you know it!

Anglers fishing with us on the Nushagak will fly in via float plane and land at our camp or we meet them at the strip at Portage Creek where a wheel plane lands. Fishing is done from one of our two 21′ Willie Raptor sleds accommodating up to 4 anglers per boat.  If anglers choose to keep a salmon, we offer complementary fish processing including vacuum sealing back at our our camp.

Week 2, 3, and 4 of July: the Naknek River

The Naknek has a great run of king salmon, and though the numbers aren’t as large as the Nushagak, the catch rate will rival and beat most Alaskan streams.  The nice thing about the Naknek in July, is often time we can combine a day of king fishing in the tidal reach with sockeye fishing in the upper river.

Silver salmon are the quintessential Alaskan sport fish.  They run, jump, and take flies and lures like no other when everything goes right.  We love to fly fish for silvers!  They take a stripped or waked fly very readily when they haven’t been bothered, and we make this happen on the waters we fish.  For non fly anglers, we target these fish with light spin rods and a variety of methods.

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Where and When do we target Silver Salmon?

We fish for silver salmon on our home river the Naknek, as well as the Alagnak, Nushagak, Kvichak and some a few small streams we prefer not to name online.

1st Week of August – 2nd week of September

Silver salmon fishing kicks off on the Naknek typically by the first week of August and a little earlier on the Nushagak.  We will see strong runs until the middle of September on most years.  By having access to multiple rivers we are able to keep anglers on fish throughout our season.

The Bristol Bay Region is home to the largest wild run of sockeye salmon in the world with annual runs nearing 50 million returning salmon.

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Where and When do we target Sockeye Salmon?

Sockeye begin their journey through Bristol Bay in late June and typically reach their peak migration during the first and second week of July.  Daily counts can reach into the hundreds of thousands and we have a number of places we can catch them.

1st and 2nd week of July

The Naknek annual escapement goal is 1.2 million fish and many years the river sees more than 1.5 million fresh sockeye arrive in a two week period.  We target these fish in the upper reaches of the Naknek, Kvichak, and Alagnak.

It is no secret that the waters of Bristol Bay offer some of the best rainbow fishing on the planet.

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Where and When do we target Rainbow Trout?

1st, 2nd, 3rd week of July

The first three weeks of July offer anglers looking for rainbows their best chance of the season to chase them with dry flies.  We focus our time on the small streams inside Katmai National Park where trout have followed the first groups of sockeye into the small streams where they will eventually spawn.  Because the salmon haven’t begun spawning, the trout will be looking for easy meals and we can have some epic hatches.

4th week of July – 2nd week of October – Small Water

The last week of July we typically see our first wide spread salmon spawn of the year, and the trout will be ready for it!  Small streams with sockeye inside Katmai and beyond will be flooded with protein rich eggs and the trout will be focused on them until they can’t eat any more.  We have many options to fish trout this time of the year, most places we will fly with float plane and land in a small pond or river, and walk and wade, fishing around the spawning sockeye salmon looking for the trout behind them.  We also have streams where we do an all day raft trip and fish our way down the river and get picked up at the end of the day.  As the summer comes to an end, we begin to loose our small stream options and begin to focus on the larger, shorter, lake headed systems that have sockeye spawning late into the fall.

3rd week of August – 2nd week of October – Big Water – the Kvichak

We love giant trout.  It’s one of the reasons we call the Naknek home, but the Naknek isn’t the only place we chase the giants every fall and summer.  Most years the Naknek doesn’t have fishable numbers of big fish until the middle of September, so before that happens, we are on the world famous Kvichak.  We have boats stored on the Kvichak where we offer daily fly in fishing.  The Kvichak is a huge river with huge trout, these are typically the hardest fighting and hardest to land fish we see every season.  We fish the Kvichak from a drifting boat with egg patterns and also swing flies from shore.

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2nd week of September- 2nd week of October – Big Water – the Naknek

Our home river, the Naknek may offer anglers the best chance to land a trout over 30″ on any given day in the late fall.   The Naknek is similar to the Kvichak in that it produces giant trout opportunities on a daily basis.  In early September, trout drop out of Naknek Lake to feed on sockeye eggs near the lake outlet, they begin to move down into the river shortly after.  We primarily target Naknek trout with swung flies, spey rods are very effective tools for this job, but are not required.

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Char, whether they are sea run Dolly Varden, lake run Dolly Varden, or Arctic Char, inhabit many of the river and lake systems in our area.

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Accommodations

King Salmon, Alaska has a number of great options for anglers looking for food and accommodations.  The five listed below are the operations we work with every summer.  Each offers a different feel and experience and we would love to place you in with the right fit.  We would be happy to arrange the King Salmon related logistics of your trip, just ask.

Getting to King Salmon, Alaska

Flights to King Salmon originate in Anchorage, AK. Pen Air  – http://www.penair.com has daily flights all summer and we can help you pick the right flight for your trip.

2017 Rates

Our specialty is matching anglers with fishing and lodging destinations that best suit their needs and prices vary.

Daily fishing $650 for one or two anglers, additional anglers $325 per person.  Fly-out trips vary by location flight time from King Salmon.

Half-day trip are available on the Naknek during July and August, $400 for one or two anglers, additional anglers $200 per person.