The 2023 season got rolling a touch late for our traditional 4th late week of June opening, but as usual – the mighty Alagnak River just kept building! The fishing got fast and furious by July 4th for sockeye salmon as record numbers of fish slammed into the river daily on high tides providing nonstop action for our guests. Along with this near record numbers of sockeye salmon came a strong run of king salmon that was welcomed eagerly by our anglers. Some of the largest kings came “on the swing” with spey rod anglers wading shallow sandbars in the lower river. It is hard to beat the fight of a 25 pound+ king salmon on a fly rod covered with sea lice fresh from the salt!
Weeks two and three provided great sockeye and good king salmon action consistently.
By the fourth week of the season – the kings and sockeye run began to slow - but there were still enough fish caught daily with limits of sockeye salmon still being caught in the upper “braids” region of the river for those wishing to take salmon home. The chum salmon run was just getting started for those willing to swing flies on the sandbars. Bright sunshine often put a damper on this bite but hard to argue with Mother Nature and a gorgeous day on the river! As the 5th week rolled in, the action quickly heated up on these sandbars for fresh, line-screaming, chrome bright chum salmon and they often looked more like silver salmon than chum salmon. Booooom! A few late run kings were caught at the end of July as well and the overall rating for our 2023 king run was a B+! Considering where we were 5 years ago – this is GREAT news!
Silvers salmon were certainly the highlight of the 2023 season with a banner run of them starting in early August and running all the way through the first week of September. The numbers reminded me of our record 2019 silver salmon run and guests were grinning from ear to ear daily coming off the boat’s. Catching silvers is still a thrill for me even after all these years at Angler’s Alibi with the chase and wake from a “hot” silver salmon while stripping your fly from the bank is something every angler must experience at least once in their lifetime. Silver salmon limits of 3 fish per angler were kept daily - but we maintained our lodge policy to release all hen silvers and only harvest males. This is something we do to hopefully sustain our runs as we have seen other Bristol Bay rivers see declines over the years. This policy obviously makes sense and I feel like now we have tangible proof.
Our late trout weeks in September were nothing short of AMAZING. We were catching huge rainbow trout on fly-outs as well as in the Alagnak. Unfortunately, some of these “tanker class” trout were just too hot to handle and either broke 15-pound line or simply threw the hook while anglers stood in rivers with mouths agape – This “XL class” of rainbows we have in Alaska is something that must be experienced to be appreciated. These fish pull like saltwater bonefish and can jump like a Dorado once hooked…needless to say, we just can’t get enough of them!
I am pleased to report that the new amenities for the 2023 season did not go unnoticed by our guests! These interior tent upgrades featured new seating areas and shelved wardrobe hangers (with robes in each tent for the sauna or shower commute). New reclining dining room chairs and a new sofa were all big hits. The new Starlink antennas are up and running and are lightning fast - you can now use cell phones via WIFI calling just as if you were sitting in your living room at home! Big thank you to Elon Musk! By the way, this is a huge upgrade to our legacy system that would jam up with 2 or more people trying to use it.
I can keep going on about the upgrades but that would be hard to do without introducing our new lodge engineer Steve Bartz. Steve was a terrific addition and a HUGE asset to have in camp all summer long as he was either building, fixing, or improving something daily with a great attitude and teamwork mentality. Steve has some great ideas and plans going forward as well! Additionally, the entire guide staff was nothing short of amazing; continually putting our customers on fish all season long - even during some of the slow days they kept a positive attitude up and kept the guests happy. We will have one new full-time guide on our staff next summer. He is certainly not a stranger as Carson Brzeczek has put in 3 years at camp and has a lot of guide days on the river already and we feel fortunate to have him return full time for the 2024 season. What created this new position you might ask? Well unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Jackson Gilmore as he is literally “flying off” to chase his next dream as a pilot. Who knows, he may be back flying for Angler’s Alibi in the future!
Now for some of the really big news. Next season we will be making Angler’s Alibi a 24-hour powerhouse without the use of a loud generator running all day and night. We will be using a battery bank with inverters that will run the camp all afternoon and night with a re-charge happening once the guests have left in the morning. Having this full 24-hour power will make Alibi feel even more comfortable with access to the water system during the night. We will also have two beer taps at the bar in 2024 – but the jury is out on what draft beers to offer. I am open to suggestions! I think for tradition’s sake - we need to have an Alaska Amber on tap, then maybe and IPA? Please let me know your thoughts. There will be more infrastructure upgrades as well in 2024 keeping our carpentry crew very busy in June. Most notable will be replacing and expanding our front deck that now acts more like a cigar lounge most weeks after dinner. The new front deck will also have a fireplace to ward off the chill on those after dinner sessions as well (especially in our later weeks).
My goal has always been to be considered one of the premier sport fishing lodges in Bristol Bay. With all the additions mentioned above and changes we have made over the last 2 or 3 years and what we have planned moving forward – I think we are getting close to achieving that goal.
Reservation update: Next season may seem like a long way off now - BUT we have had a lot of bookings from both returning customers as well as some new ones. That said, space is tightening up rather quickly for 2024 so if you want to get your desired week – which could be late season rainbow weeks in September or an amazing week full of kings and sockeye salmon in early July, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss these dates.
Lastly, we cannot thank our guests enough for the amazing summer we had in 2023, and we are certainly looking forward to making more memories in 2024! Enjoy your holiday season and more updates to follow!
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.