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There are so many lodges and do it yourself areas in Alaska that boast about catching “Trophy Alaska Rainbows”.

Trophy Alaska Rainbow Trout

So…What constitutes a “Trophy Alaska Rainbow”

Truth is, just like the lower 48, they are not a dime a dozen. The next question is, what is a true trophy for Alaska standards? Most guides, lodge owners, and die hard locals would agree that a 30″ or larger rainbow trout is the trophy size for Alaska and for that matter, the globe. Sure, there are a lot of places that hold these fish in the lower 48, but most are on private tracts of land or have just been released from a hatchery because they will no longer produce eggs. These large “brood stock” rainbows and browns can be caught in tail-waters where there is enough food to sustain such a large fish. A true 30″ fish in the lower 48 that is wild and not associated with a tailwater will live in a river or lake that has a ton of biomass to produce such a beast of a trout. There are not many places where this happens naturally. In Alaska, there are few river systems that can hold and routinely yield fish of this size. Yes, even in Alaska, the amount of true 30″ plus trout water is not a common place.

Best Places to catch Trophy Rainbows in Alaska

There are about 4 river systems in Alaska that routinely hold and produce fish of such size. Notice how I said system? This is due in part that the fish not only have a river for food during the 12 month period but also a lake or series of lakes and tributaries in which to feed and mature to achieve such a status of 30 or more inches.

Rainbows in all systems take advantage of millions of sockeye, chum, pink, king, and silver salmon to feed them for most of their life cycle. Not only do the salmon offer a huge biomass of rich eggs into the river system every summer, but also supply the systems with a huge amount of nutrients post spawn when their life cycle comes to an end and thousands of pounds of dead salmon fertilize the rivers supplying nutrients to not only the salmon but also the plants and wildlife that make the river system areas their homes.

Trophy Rainbow Trout caught at Angler's Alibi Fishing Lodge

Beautiful Leopard Rainbow Trout caught on the Alagnak River

The lakes will hold some species of salmon for a year before they head out to sea. These smolt are another source of nutrients to the trout. As you can see, the salmon are everything in regards to a food source for the salmon. Yes, these rivers have mice, sculpins, and aquatic insects, but by far the biggest contributor to the trouts life cycle and large growth is due in part to the salmon. Take away the salmon, and there would be not trout.

Kvichak River

The Kvichak (Kwee-jack) River is one of the best for trophy trout. It is the outflow river to the largest lake in Alaska, Lake Iliamna (Illi- am-na) This river and it’s tributaries into lake Iliamna routinely yield trout of 30″‘s or more every season, but not in numbers that one would expect. A fellow lodge owner has guests that fish this system from Mid August to October during it’s prime time, and even with all this time the number of true trophies will not take more than two hands to count. It is an amazing river, and there are a lot of 25″ plus trout that are landed though, hundreds over the course of the season.

Alagnak River

The Alagnak River system is comprised of 2 large lakes, the Kukaklek (Koo-cock-lek) and the Nonvianuk (Non-vi-nuk) lakes. The Alagnak and it’s tributaries above the two lakes will yield trout of 30″s or more every year as well. The system has a large amount of sockeyes as well as other salmon that give it the much needed biomass that trout need to get to the magical size. The two rivers in the system that will usually yield the trophies are the Moraine Creek drainage and Battle Creek, as well as the Alagnak River. The fish are highly mobile and will move from river to lake to tributary in order to maximize their food potential.

Naknek River

The Naknek (Nack-nick) River System is one of the best systems for trophy trout. This is due in part to the way the river fishes in early season for post spawn trout and how well it fishes way late in the season due to its location and ease of accesablity. There are a few places that will take anglers right up to ice time. The town of King Salmon is the hub town here and can be reached daily from Anchorage. The trophy trout are usually caught in the river itself but sometimes caught in some of it’s tributaries above it’s lakes, Brooks Lake and Naknek Lake. There are some that will still troll the lake for huge trout, but not many. There is a picture of a trout in the mid 30″ range in Brooks lodge that was caught in the lake. It is one of the larges non-steelhead trout I have ever seen. The beauty is that these huge rainbows will drop back into the river to feed on salmon flesh and eggs in late fall.

Kenai River

The Kenai (Kee-ni) River System is the last on the list but not the least! It is right under the nose of most tourists, and by far in comparison to the other rivers mentioned above has the most traffic, ten fold. The catch is, most that fish the river are targeting salmon to take home to eat. The beauty is that it’s one of the best trophy trout rivers in the state and is attainable by a rental car from Anchorage in less than 3 hours. This river like the Naknek will fish the best during the fall to ice up time. It will have a fair amount of true trophy trout caught every year. Yes, this right there by most Alaska travel plans.

Good luck chasing down that true Alaska trophy trout!

Alagnak River silver salmon fly fishing

My family enjoying some fantastic silver salmon fly fishing on the Alagnak River

When you think about an Alaska fishing vacation, you think about catching your limits of salmon and trout, surrounded by dramatically beautiful scenery. Experience the serenity of nature with nothing around you except the people you came with, your fishing guide and all that peace and quiet that comes with being in the wild outdoors. Well, at least it’s quiet until an energetic salmon takes the line!

Bristol Bay, Alaska offers some of the best salmon fishing in the world. Depending on the time of year you visit, you can find all five species of salmon plus rainbow trout, Arctic char, grayling and Dolly Varden. Avid anglers travel here to visit remote fishing grounds and to catch their limits of these fish.

Salmon Fishing the Alagnak River

The Alagnak River in the Bristol Bay region is teaming with game fish. It runs for 64 miles, running from Kukaklek Lake and emptying into the Kvichak River. Angler’s Alibi is located on the tidewater section of the Alagnak River which means anglers can take advantage of the ocean feeding patterns of all five species of salmon, offering one of the best Alaska fly-fishing holidays in the region. You can cast your fly into schools of king, chum, silver, pink and sockeye salmon without even leaving their camp and their guides will take you up the river to world-class fly fishing waters along the mighty Alagnak River.

Best Times to Book Your Alaska Salmon Fishing Vacation

In the summer months, it is possible to land all five species of salmon from Angler’s Alibi, but certain times of the season can be more productive than others depending on what you want to catch the most of.

King salmon fishing season runs strong during the month of July, peaking mid-month. Alaska king salmon average between 25 and 30 pounds on the Alagnak River.

Silver salmon fishing season start during the last few days of July and runs through the end of August. Silver salmon, also known as coho salmon, are the most popular species to target on the fly and average 8 to 10 pounds.

Sockeye salmon fishing is best from the end of June through mid-July when they are running in the tidewater. Nearly one million sockeye salmon will be swimming up the Alagnak River to spawn in their natal tributaries during this time, so landing your daily limits will not be an issue.

Chum salmon fishing in this region is best starting on the second week of July until mid-August. Though they average 8 to 10 pounds, chum salmon are fighters and will make you work for the catch!

Pink salmon fishing can only be done during even years on the Alagnak River as they only run every other year. On the year they’re running, you can catch pinks by the fourth week of July through the third week of August. Pink salmon are also a very aggressive fish to catch and average 3 to 5 pounds.

Come and experience an unforgettable Alaska fishing vacation, far from roads and crowds, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, a variety of wildlife and where you’ll find an abundance of pacific salmon. Learn more about Angler’s Alibi’s fishing program.

We want to thank a relatively new website about Alaska fishing lodges, www.myalaskanfishingtrip.com, for their feature article on the Angler’s Alibi fishing experience. The article gives a nice summary of the typical day that a guest will have at our camp; literally covering everything from sun­up to sun­down. It touches on the great meals that Chef Ben offers up but also dives into the species of fish a guest can expect to catch, the potential sizes, the flies used to reel them in, and more.
As the article discusses, the value that Angler’s Alibi offers reaches beyond the great food and great fishing location – it comes from our great guides. They note the 2:1 guide to guest ratio but we are proud of them highlighting that our guides are “fishermen who know the river, know the fish, and know how to make your fishing adventure the best seven days of your life”.
In addition to the article and our lodge overview page, we are also excited to see that we made two of the sites top ten lists. It should come as no surprise to any of our past guests that Angler’s Alibi made the list of Top 10 Alaska fly fishing lodges as well as the list for Top 10 Alaska fishing lodges under $6,000.

Thanks to My Alaska Fishing Trip for highlighting the incredible experience and service we offer at Angler’s Alibi. Check out the article on Angler’s Alibi.

The silver salmon run of 2014 on the Alagnak River in remote Bristol Bay Alaska was somehow even better than the previous season.  The Alagnak River saw a little push of silvers during the fourth week of July, but the run exploded again starting August 1st and lasted well beyond our shut down week into the month of September!

Happy Alaska fly fishing customers were greeted with huge numbers of silver salmon willing to grab flies on the strip, on the swing, and even on the topwater chug of a true Alaska wog!  What, a wog you say?  Yes, a wog.  This is a topwater pink mouse pattern or pink popper that is aggressively taken by eager silver salmon as they hold along the banks of the Alagnak River or in holding water referred to as “Frog water” by true Alaskans.  There are few sights in an Alaska fly fishing trip that can compete with a silver salmon coming unglued attacking a top water wog!  The guides at Angler’s Alibi can all agree that even though salmon are not supposed to be feeding once they enter fresh water, they sure do hit, and often take the wog deep as if they were trying to eat it for sure!  We prefer to use the popper version over the deer haired type just for this reason.  In order to withstand several strikes and landing an arm aching amount of silver salmon, anglers do not have to worry about the wog starting to sink in the popper version as they would if fishing the deer hair type.  Do not get me wrong, there were many more silvers landed on sub surface patterns that were stripped or even swung, but the enjoyment while seeing the take on top was well worth the sacrifice of sheer numbers.

At the time of writing this post, there still remains some choice spots during August, but I find it hard to believe that these spots will last much longer with the Alagnak River silver salmon run as strong as it is.  We have added another week, week 9, and it is full.  There are still some spots in our 8th week, and one spot still remains in week 7.  I hope that if anyone reading this that wants to experience Alaska fly fishing at its finest, they would consider giving Angler’s Alibi a shot in 2015!

 

Alagnak River silver salmon run of 2014

Buck silver on the Alagnak River

 

Alagnak River silver salmon run of 2014

Another nice buck silver salmon from the Alagnak River

The 2014 fishing season on the Alagnak River will go down as one of the top seasons on record. We experienced a great start to our king salmon and sockeye salmon runs in late June that carried on for the entire week. Daily limits of kings and sockeye were easy to come by, and releasing quality kings was an enjoyable task to preserve such a wonderful resource.

As the month of July started to move forward, so did the warmer temperatures. This seemed to make the king fishing a little slower, but average to say the least with daily catches per boat near or in the double digits. The sockeye run really started to slow down the second week of July, but with that slow down came our first run of chum or calico salmon. The fly fishing was superb as an alternative to fishing king salmon on the Alagnak River, and quite enjoyable to actually fish while wading to escape some of the afternoon heat! The calico salmon were hot fighters and were eager to take a swung or stripped fly, and were not at all content on staying underwater for their fights. The calico salmon were airborne almost as much as silver salmon, but willing to break a record 26 rods in 4 weeks time!

As the month of July progressed, the king salmon numbers went back up in the last week with nice king salmon being caught on the last day of the season, and all boats landing half a dozen or more before lunch on July 31. That first run of chum salmon was quickly being overtaken by our pink salmon run, creating non stop fish catching action while wading the sand bars of the Alagnak River.

The silver salmon run began in late July right on schedule with the first one being caught on July 23 by one of our guests as they were pursuing pink and calico salmon.  Things really started to heat up the first few days of August as our first big push of silver salmon entered the Alagnak River.  One of our new guests actually caught and released over 20 silver salmon before lunch on the second day of August!  As August went on, we had peak silver fishing every day of the month and we watched the pink salmon and calico salmon slow down on schedule by mid August.

Our last week on the river yielded the highest catch rates of silver salmon every recorded at Angler’s Alibi Alaska, with many days over the 50 fish mark per boat!  Needless to say, we are adding another week to our schedule in 2015, and it is already full!

As a wrap up to our season, the few slow king days we had were greatly overshadowed by the continued success of our silver salmon fishing and new techniques developed over the past few seasons.  Please check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/anglersalibi for near daily photos of great Alaska fishing!

 

Alagnak River silver salmon

Buck silver on the Alagnak River
King salmon Alagnak River Alaska

King salmon fishing on the Alagnak River Alaska

Fishing for Alaska salmon on the fly is something that every serious fly angler should do.  It really exemplifies the true essence of fly fishing with big water, big fish, and eager numbers of takes that you can achieve in a days worth of fishing, especially on the Alagnak River in Bristol Bay.   As mentioned earlier in my last article, Angler’s Alibi on the Alagnak River is a premier Bristol Bay fly fishing lodge.   Our location is suited to intercept fresh salmon every day on the tides within a 0 to 10 minute boat ride.  That is right, a 0 minute boat ride because you can even catch fish off the dock if you wanted to! Picking up from the last article, I covered King, sockeye, and chum salmon.  The next salmon to enter Bristol Bay are the silver salmon.  Silver salmon come into the Alagnak River in late July, and really get stacked up the first week of August.  Silver salmon are truly what put Alaska fly fishing on the map.  These salmon have an innate ability to try and throw the hook once it is set by leaping out of the water, often multiple times.  The silver salmon leap many times after being hooked, then take off on drag testing runs trying to get back to the ocean.  It is this desire “not to be caught” that puts the silver salmon on top of many fly fishing enthusiasts bucket lists.  The problem is, at least with our guests at our Bristol Bay fishing lodge, that the one trip usually turns into several trips back to the incredible state of Alaska.  At Angler’s Alibi, we have a return rate of over 80% with close to a 90% return rate this coming season.  Part of this is due to our level of customer service and fishing program, but we are not fooled that this return of silver salmon keeps our August weeks full!  Here is a link to a video made last year in August capturing some incredible silver salmon fishing. http://vimeo.com/79247087

Pink salmon are the smallest of all the Pacific salmon, and run only on even years.  These smaller salmon are very underrated, much like the chum salmon.  They enter the Alagnak river at the end of July and run about half way through August.  These “pinks” are amazing fly fishing specimens as they too, like the silver salmon,will crush top water presentations with tenacity.  Pinks will jump right away as well offering a very visual fight to the angler.  We love pink years at Angler’s Alibi, and love catching Alaska salmon on the fly.

Angler’s Alibi is most noted for catching Alaska salmon on the fly.  This is due in large part to our superior location on the Alagnak River, and being centrally located in the tidewater section of the river.  This part of the river where the lodge sits can actually see the river reverse flow on tides and raise about 4 feet above its normal height.  In Alaska terms, this is not that big of a deal, but on the Alagnak River, where the salmon runs are huge and the crowds none, this is truly one of the best places in Alaska to catch salmon on the fly.

The Alagnak River is one of 4 major rivers that empties into the fabled Bristol Bay.  It is here that almost half of all salmon in Alaska come from, and it is no doubt the best natural balance left in the world with commercial fishing and sport fishing coinciding together to not only harvest salmon, but also catch and release them for future generations to come.   It is the management of the harvest in Bristol Bay that allows the mighty sockeye salmon numbers to be so large.  Sometimes the total sockeye salmon harvest can be 30 million or more, while still providing a premium amount of spawning sockeye salmon to make it up to their spawning grounds.  It is here on the spawning grounds that we target the fabled Bristol Bay rainbow trout.

The sockeye salmon make it up the Alagnak in late June and early July.  Sockeye salmon fishing is done entirely on the fly, with limit catches the norm on a daily basis our first and second weeks of the summer.  Sockeye salmon share space on the daily tides with King Salmon.  These are the largest of the Pacific salmon, and like to travel and hold in the deepest parts of the river.  The King salmon is by far the premier Alaska salmon on the fly.  The take can be a light grab to an aggressive strike that can steal your rod right out of your hands!  The swing is the preferred method for the kings, but they will strike on the strip while preparing for another cast….so hold on!.  Check out this link for more information on the might king salmon, and fly patterns that work well. http://www.anglersalibi.com/alaska-king-salmon-fishing/

The chum salmon is the next salmon to arrive on the shallow bars of the Alagnak River.  These are no doubt the most underrated salmon in Bristol Bay.  These come in the Alagnak chrome bright and full of fight, and the best thing is that they are eager to hit a fly on top or below the surface.  Yes, on topwater patterns! Check out this link to see and read more on the chum salmon fishing, http://www.anglersalibi.com/chum-salmon-fishing/

There are a few more species of salmon out there, and I will dedicate my next article to even more on Alaska salmon on the fly!

Spey fishing Alaska is beginning to be more the norm than the oddity.  We have been honing our skills on this two handed technique for years and love the how we can move a whole lot of line with very little effort.  This two handed cast is ideal for fishing the “swing” on the Alagnak River.  King, silver, pink, and chum salmon all will hit this presentation, and in many cases, it is even more effective than the traditional single handed rod.  The Alagnak River has shallow sand bars that are ideal to fish the spey rod.  The key component to casting the spey rod is to have moving water while wading.  This is easy to achieve on the Alagnak with the gentle current and firm bottom.  It is difficult to do this from a boat, due to the height off the water you are in versus having the water at your thigh level.

Spey flies and lines are a bit different from the single handed flies we use.  The spey cast works much better with flies that have very little or no weight, accompanied with a weighted line.  This enables the cast from the spey rod to launch balanced line combinations much further than a single handed rod.  The “skagit” lines and compact lines have really made a huge difference to the effectiveness of the spey cast.  These new lines enable the spey rod fisherman to launch, and shoot a roll cast with much less effort than a single handed rod.  This has been a game changer and we cannot wait to get back on the Alagnak River for more salmon on the fly, or should I say swing!