What makes Alaska trout fishing different than trout fishing in the lower 48? Despite the fact that these fish are all native and seem to be just like a steelhead, the Alaska trout are more like sharks at times than your typical lower 48 trout. Imagine having several thousand pounds of salmon flesh as part of your annual diet source. Imagine having thousands of protein-rich salmon eggs in the river system for months, which makes up the majority of the trout ‘s nutrition during Summer, Fall, and Winter. This super protein rich diet is like taking steroids for this amazingly healthy and strong species.
Come Spring, the salmon source is all but dried up so they are redirected to more “normal” trout foods like sculpins, leeches, aquatic insects, and mice. Yes, mouse patterns are a favorite way of enticing Alaska trout into a vicious surface strike—no doubt an angler’s favorite method.
Trout season begins on June 8th every Summer in Bristol Bay. This helps protect the trout during their Spring spawning period. Trout have been a catch and release species in Bristol Bay for some time now, and it helps keep the species thriving.
The Alaska trout opener has become an amazing way to kick-start the Alaskan fishing season on the Alagnak. Just imagine hungry, eager, trout that have not seen an angler of fly in over 8 months! These trout are more than willing to strike both top water and sub surface patterns on June 8th - and four fortunate guests of Anglers Alibi were ready and willing to present a fly as the clock struck midnight. We had set up a small camp for just the night and enjoyed a nice dinner at an extremely remote area of the Bristol Bay Watershed. With a nice campfire and some spirits, the guests were more than amped up for a trout opener that they would never forget.
Trout, lake trout and Arctic Grayling were slurping dry flies as we all waited on baited breath, constantly checking our watches to see just how many minutes were left on the day until it was legal time to make that first cast. Bets were placed on who would have the first trout on the fly and, sure enough, the first trout was stripping line off a reel that all could hear in seconds from the opening yell of “go time”. Yes, one of the guests had hooked up on a trout on their first midnight cast!
The rainbow trout opener was another first for us at Angler’s Alibi in 2018. We wanted to share what our lodge fishing guides and I have been experiencing for the past several summers with some guests on the now annual trout opener in Bristol Bay Alaska. This trout opener is always on June 8, and has been a good break for the staff to head up river and target trout on mice patterns, dry flies, or swing flies.
We only took 4 guests for this special opening event and the results were actually better than we imagined they could be. We started out by splitting up the guests into two groups. One group headed up to a special place where they camped out for the midnight opener while the other pair headed up river to some very solid places in the Alagnak River Braids for that first cast of the season at midnight.
The group that was on the overnight got lines in the water at midnight and fished until about 3am, landing more trout than they could ever imagine on mice patterns. The rainbow trout were extremely concentrated with an appetite that was literally ferocious. By 3am, our guests were tired out and ready for bed, so they went back to the tent for a short rest. By 10am, they were back at it all day until the pick up at 5pm. One of the anglers in this group was quoted as saying:
“This is literally the best trout fishing I have ever seen in my 35 plus years of trout fishing all over the country,” they went on “After several trout openers in Yellowstone, this is by far the most superior opening day event ever!”
Anglers Alibi has been known as a premier salmon fishing lodge on the Alagnak River in Alaska for the last 25 years. This river branches out from Bristol Bay, winding and weaving for 60 miles up river to its origin, Nonvianuk and Kukaklek Lake. The lodge sits on top a bluff with a riverfront view at mile marker six. Locals will tell you that good fishing begins at mile marker three and prime fishing begins shortly after...giving guests at Anglers Alibi front row seats to pristine fish-able tidewater.
There are so many lodges and do it yourself areas in Alaska that boast about catching “Trophy Alaska Rainbows”.
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.
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.