One of the fabled and enigmatic rivers in Bristol Bay. Few have ever mastered it completely. It takes dedication and love for the river itself. Some guides that work there never leave it. Other guides that do leave, always find a way to come back. The Branch River (known on maps as the Alagnak River) could be clinically diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. To fish it successfully, you must understand its nature and what makes it so fickle.
The origin of the Branch (Alagnak) River is debatable depending on which map you look at. Some maps show the origin as the outlet of Kukaklek Lake. Other maps designate the origin as the confluence of the Kukaklek River and Nonvianuk River. Either way, both rivers are outlets of two very large and deep, natural fresh water lakes with many tributaries feeding them. The vast capacities of booth these lakes give the Branch its almost always clean, clear waters desired by all five species of Pacific Salmon, leopard rainbow trout, arctic char and arctic grayling.
Given its agreed upon origin being the outlets of two elephantine sized lakes, these lakes freeze in winter. When the ice begins breaking apart in spring, its descent down river causes catastrophic results. Trees are wiped from the river banks, river banks are sloughed off into the river, temporary ice dams are formed. All this chaos creates new passage ways for the flowing water. New branches of flowing water every year; thus giving the Branch River its local namesake. To operate jet boats in the most heavily braided section of the river is not for the weak or simple minded. It takes constant focus and an ability to read water that doesn’t apply to any other river in the region. In other words, if you don’t know what good water looks like on the Branch, it looks like there is no where to safely go. Rookies crash boats every year. Fact.
The king salmon fishing on the Alagnak River is at times just about as good as any river in Alaska. The Alagnak River does not have an accurate way of counting king salmon so just how many kings come up and spawn in the river annually is a guess. I can tell you that we have weeks and days in most years where every customer is catching double digit numbers of kings daily, and for a 4 week period in July our king salmon fishing is amazingly consistent.
The Alagnak is one of the five major rivers of Bristol Bay Watershed. It has one of the most diverse runs for all 5 species of Pacific salmon. King fishing is still very strong there and despite all the negativity of king runs and the declines in Southeast Alaska and the famous Kenai River, we seem to be staying very steady with our runs on the Alagnak and we are doing all we can to keep it this way as sport anglers. We at Angler’s Alibi have not allowed a guest to keep a hen king salmon ever, and now do not let any guest keep any kings other than small jack kings. (Jack kings are 1-year return kings that are 20” in length or less) We now release all males as well in hopes of preserving the runs we are so fortunate to have. We do however harvest sockeye salmon during the king run in order to keep fish coolers full for a return flight home.
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.