The 2022 season was one for the ages! I will do my best to recap all of the highlights from trout week 1 in early June right through to the nutty ending of the season in mid-September! One thing I know for sure: every guest left the lodge with smiles, pictures, and memories that hopefully will be etched in their minds for years to come!
Before I dive into the fishing - we are all very grateful that two of our most tenured guides; Chris Emmons and John Landry safely survived Hurricane Ian as both call Fort Myers Beach home. Certainly, this put a lot of things in perspective.
Back to Alaska. We were so fortunate that our rain dances in June (when the tundra was literally on fire upriver!) were answered with a near steady rain event that lasted throughout July, August, and into September! Some might say our dances were answered a little too well as we had an exceptionally wet, damp and cold summer. The daily Southwest flows from the Bering Sea brought low hanging clouds with intermittent rain which was great for salmon fishing - but those low clouds did impact our ability to do some of our fly outs and we had more than our normal share of cancellations due to low ceilings not clearing until later in the afternoon.
The only other downside to the season was our June trout fishing. While we caught plenty of trout - it clearly was not like what we normally see in the Alagnak “braid” section of the river. I believe the weak chum salmon run in 2020 had shifted many of the trout higher in the river system where there were larger concentrations of sockeye salmon - which help hold them over for the winter right into the early part of the season. Hopefully this cycle is over and normality returns in the spring of 2023. I am optimistic, but we are going to take a year off from our two early trout weeks in 2023 to reassess the fishery.
The rest of the season was in word: terrific; and I would argue one of the best summers I can remember. The big news here was that our chum salmon run DID continue to improve from that low in 2020 - and made 2022 seem "normal" again! This was a very welcome trend and sure did “do its job” of feeding some huge rainbow trout in the braids for the fall and winter. The king salmon run was also better than 2021 - but still not quite like the good old days which were really not all that long ago. We will continue to practice catch and release on all kings and will be trying to push for more conservative limits for our river system this winter with the Alaska Fish and Game Department, more to come in this later after meetings in Anchorage this winter.
Our sockeye run could best be described as “simply amazing” with easy limits from day one of Week 1 all the way through July - finally winding down towards the end of week 4 which was much more in tune with "normal" run timing. I felt so fortunate to have my parents join us Week 3 to see not only the amazing king and sockeye runs in the lower river fishery, but also our oh so special “braid section”. Their week was highlighted by a fly out to the legendary Brooks Falls with a chance to observe brown bears in close proximity gorging themselves on salmon. This week was truly the personal highlight of my season if not my career up here!
The chum salmon then began “pouring” into the river system Week 4! We had so many chums up on sand bars that guests were literally worn out from catching so many hard fighting, fresh chrome chums on the fly before lunch! Unfortunately, the wind and rain continued for all of July - and we actually had one day where nobody fished after lunch as we had sustained winds in the 30's and 40's. It’s Alaska. It happens. All I could think of that afternoon was the soundtrack to Deadliest Catch with Jon Bon Jovi singing "Dead or Alive"!
The last week of July saw the end of the king run - but loads of pink and chum salmon continued to pour into the river every tide like a living salmon tsunami! Silver salmon also started to trickle in during Week 6 (first week of August) and really ramped up in weeks 7 and 8. At its peak, our anglers had some days with 50+ (click it) silvers hooked daily on the fly! We have not seen numbers like this in a few seasons and it was amazing to see such a strong return from our friends: the “silver bullets”!
Now we began to switch our focus to fall trout fishing in September - however we still had some terrific silver salmon action in week 10 (our last week with a full camp of 12 guests). This week also had the most husband/wife couples of any week at Angler's Alibi, which made for a great week of couples chemistry for sure. Again, we caught silvers and some super nice, big, fat rainbows in the braids. Additionally, we flew out to both the Upper and Lower American River, Kulik River, and the Kvichak River with all producing some amazing “piggie” trout!
The last 2 weeks on the 2022 season (Weeks 11 and 12) where we only fish 6 anglers per week is considered our "trophy trout" season (trout gorging on eggs and carcasses to sustain them through winter). Working with only 6 guests really makes it easy to set up the ultimate game plan per day to fly out and target these monster rainbows on some of the most productive wild trout rivers in the world, including our own home waters that produced some of the largest trout of the last two weeks!
All in all - a GREAT season…but alas, we too were impacted heavily by huge price hikes in all facets of our business (fuel, groceries, air taxis). We have no choice but to transfer those increases and hence we are raising our 2023 season rates to $6,800 per week. It will still be the “best value” on the river and the lowest priced lodge for a 7-day trip on the Alagnak.
If you were considering a trip to Angler's Alibi in 2023 we still do have some availability, most notably our late season trout week in September (max 6 guests). Contact us to find to learn more & book your trip.
Enjoy the fall, winter, holiday season and early spring and we look forward to seeing all of you up here next season!
About the Author
The primary contributor, John Perry, is the owner and manager of the lodge. He'll offer fishing summaries and tips too...check back or sign up for the email news to get updates when posted.