2012 Alagnak River Salmon Review, week by week
It is amazing to me that there is always diversity from year to year with how the Alagnak River produces, including the fly-out streams we are fortunate to visit as well. With each new season, I can honestly say that I have not witnessed a drop in catch rates at all. We have had slower years and banner years, but all in all, the fishing is so darn consistent on the Alagnak River and Bristol Bay watershed from year to year that it still remains one of the strongest fisheries in the world!
Week 1 brought on a great group of familiar faces, as all were at Angler’s Alibi before. We had to deal with the highest water I have ever seen on the Alagnak River, coupled with some of the coldest conditions at the season’s start in history. Luckily, the sockeye salmon still poured in the river, right on schedule, as if someone opened up a flood gate on June 29th. The sockeye milled in any lagoon water or back bays on the lower river more than I have ever seen. It was amazing to look back on a very large bay that stretches for a good half mile and see sockeyes jumping all over the place, as far as the eye would allow.
Our king salmon were a little late, but by mid-week, we were catching them at a good pace. The crew of week one chipped away at a fair amount of jack king salmon to get the real nice chrome specimens that were showing up in decent numbers. This was on par with the rest of Bristol Bay for the king salmon run. The largest king caught this week was in the 40# class – full of sea lice, dime bright, and full of fight.
Fly-outs to Brooks River proved to be a great choice with swinging streamers representing salmon flesh. This was a hit, along with some fresh egg imitations. The bears held up their end of the bargain, as it was a non-stop bear viewing/ fishing bonanza!
Week 2 brought in another set of familiar faces and seasoned veterans; some fishing with Angler’s Alibi since its first season. The king run continued to improve, while the sockeye salmon were starting to show signs of the end of their run by week’s end. It seemed as if all the sockeye came in at once over a short period during week 1. Fishing for kings was so strong that even though chrome bright chum salmon of the first run were coming in on the tides daily, everyone wanted to focus on catching kings. We managed to convince some new faces to take a break from king salmon fishing and swing some flies for chum salmon. I can assure you, they were not disappointed with their results. The king salmon bite on the fly was hotter than ever at times this week, with kings actually hitting the fly on the strip! This is usually a time on the cast that you would not expect to not get any grabs in preparation for another cast, as kings prefer a slow swing in front of their faces to elicit a strike on a fly. Fly-outs this week to Brooks River continued to have wonderful results on the bear viewing/ fishing results with nymphs, streamers, and dry flies…..YES dry flies—a great way to catch these beautiful Alaska rainbows. We were fortunate enough to catch a good caddis and mayfly hatch and target individual rising trout. What a delight!
Week 3 was an incredible mix of king and chum salmon fishing, and with the opportunity to catch 30-plus pound king salmon almost at will, there was again a lack of interest in catching chum salmon that were peaking on their first run this week. Oh, we managed to coax a few guests into wading for the dime bright chum salmon, and, well, it created permanent grins and very sore arms, as the catching was outstanding. There was really only 1 new member this week, and as a youngster from the Bay area, he was astounded with how many king salmon could be in one area at once! This youngster did not hesitate on his mission to out-fish his Grandpa and Father on his fly-out to Brooks River either, as he single-handedly doubled their count on rainbows, while constantly having to move to give the feeding bears plenty of room for their fishing space.
Week 4 brought in some serious anglers targeting primarily king salmon. The groups as a whole fell victim to the king salmon bite, as it never slowed down. The amount of chum fishing was again reduced as the king fishing was outstanding! The group continued to catch strong numbers of kings, including the largest king of the season, easily in the 50# class! And it would just so happen to be that the guest that caught this king salmon is one of Angler’s smallest guests!
With fishing so strong at Brooks River and high water other places, the fly-out this week was again taken to Brooks. The fishing was good, and the bear viewing was outstanding: a new personal best for Angler’s occurred with a guest accidentally walking up a bank to find herself face-to-face with a bear. She told me not 5 minutes prior to the incident that it would be terrible to smell their breath, as they are eating a lot of new and old salmon. We all walked back to the lodge laughing about the whole scenario and how lucky we were to walk away from this experience with smiles.
Week 5 brought 4 new faces to the camp, as we again hosted a corporate week, along with 2 father/son combinations. The king salmon season had a day and a half left, but it seemed the kings were not told this, as they continued to show strong to the bitter end. The last day of the season saw 10 guests land over 40 kings….what a way to end the king salmon season! The pink salmon were in mass this week, in addition to the second run of chum salmon and the start of the silver salmon. The silvers were hard to reach with a fly when guests were catching a pink salmon on nearly every cast. Everyone who wanted to take home their limit of fresh silver salmon fillets were able to do so. What a great combination of fishing this week, combined with a professional photographer shooting still shots and video footage for the web site. The weather was perfect for fly-outs this week, and not so perfect for consistent silver fishing with very sunny weather. The pink and chum salmon did not mind though, with unbelievable numbers attacking pink mouse patterns as well as the traditional wet flies we use.
The photographer stayed on week 6 to capture some unbelievable fly-out footage at Moraine. The skies were blue, the wind was manageable, and the rainbows were very cooperative! If you have a chance to watch the 3 minute video on the home page of the site, you may really appreciate the HD footage. The silvers we did catch were mixed in with well over 30 pink and chum salmon per rod, every day, and the best day that I know of was in the double digits on silver salmon alone.
Week 7 started off with the same beautiful sunny weather; therefore the fly-out trip to Moraine Creek was another amazing fish-spotting adventure. With great lighting to peer into the shallow Moraine Creek, we were actually able to pick off schools of rainbows lined up in feeding lanes intercepting the sockeye salmon eggs. The other fly-out during week 7 was to Contact Creek. We enjoyed fishing, or should I say catching, arctic char and grayling nearly every cast. They were beautiful hand-painted beauties starting to show their fall spawning colors. We managed to catch a few rainbows, but the majority of the fish were nice 16” to 24” char. Not a bad way to end the fly-out season on a great catching day!
The Alagnak continued to fish strong for pinks and chums, with plenty of silvers landed every day, keeping the coolers full. The pink salmon continued to supply plenty of rod-bending action. One of the highlights of this week was the last day: the sunny weather pattern broke with a strong SW wind, coupled with intermittent rain, making the silver bite its best. The Alagnak received the largest push of silvers on the morning tide I have witnessed in 18 years. The number of silvers we caught was comparable to a morning of chum salmon fishing at the peak of the run. That day will never be forgotten.