The 2018 fishing season was nothing short of amazing for us on the Alagnak River in Alaska. A very late run of sockeye salmon and king salmon to Bristol Bay made for a slow start to the first week on the Alagnak but once it got going, just after the 4th of July, we quickly forgot about the first few slower days. The weather was finally “average” with probably a little more rain than usual. This is not the greatest for flying out but was fantastic for our water temperature and keeping the salmon on the bite. Once the sockeye started, they did not stop until the last days of July – late start…but a late, and very good, run!
King Salmon on the Alagnak River
The fishing for king salmon was good, and on a grading scale I would have given it a B to B-. The numbers of kings that came in the system were good but there were a lot of Jack King salmon mixed in. This kept the action great but the quality fish weren’t as common as on a great king run. Don’t get me wrong, the Alagnak River still showed a strong king salmon run…just not what I would consider to be one of our better years for big fish. Yes, we still hit the 50# mark on one king salmon, and several in the 40# class, so all in all, not too bad of a king season.
Highlights with the king season revolved around our spey fishing program. We had great success at the end of week 1 and through weeks 2 and 3 on the fly. Our 4th week was good on gear, but not as good on fly as the previous weeks. We had several days with double digit catch rates for 2 rods on the fly starting at the end of week 1 and continuing through week 3, and that is what I consider incredible fly fishing for kings!
Summary of Chum and Pink Salmon
The chum and pink salmon runs were just incredible as usual with salmon on the fly a highlight on the lower Alagnak. The tidewater drone footage we got showed us just how many fish are in the river during the peak of these 2 salmon species – literally thousands lined up like cordwood in the sand waves on the lower sandbars. Needless to say, we kept a bottle of “Sore No More” handy in our new dining room for all the sore arms and shoulders.
That’s right, Anglers Alibi has a new dining room and it’s a huge upgrade to the overall experience this summer. With cool wet weather, we had a fire going in the fireplace every morning to welcome the guests for breakfast and used it some days during our happy hour as well. It was so nice to come back in and feel the warmth of a wood fire with its dry heat and ambiance after a long day on the river.
The Silver Salmon Run
Our silver salmon run was incredible, and we even fished silvers straight through a typhoon that hit Bristol Bay in our 7th week. Yes, a typhoon went Northward into the Bering Sea this August and winds out of the South blew for 3 days. Wind speeds never dropped below 30 miles per hour and were as high as 60 plus mph sustained winds! We fished right through this storm and saw what may be the best silver salmon fishing we have ever had on the Alagnak River. We could cast anywhere with a wind break and catch silvers – almost at will. This was fun for a while but became a little lack luster with how easy it was to catch silvers during this storm event! I never thought I would say that about silvers but the fishing was just lights out.
Trout Fishing Summary
Trout fishing remained strong on the Alagnak River, starting in our inaugural trout opening week (see next years Alaska fishing calendar) and continuing all the way through September. The trout opener featured fishing with mice, dry flies, and streamers. One of our guests has fished for over 30 years in the lower 48 and said that he’s never seen trout fishing this good in his life. This was a huge review coming from someone that has fished several openers in Yellowstone and every major trout river in the West! Yes, mouse patterns crushed fish in the Alagnak Braids along with 'attractor' pattern dry flies on top while string leeches did their job swinging up some beauties.
The average trout size remained strong this summer and fly-out fishing was as good as it gets. We set a personal record on a trout caught during the last day of the season on the Alagnak River. One huge trout went 28″ long but had a girth of 191/2″ for an estimated weight of over 13 pounds! This was a highlight fish of the season for sure. Many trout were caught in the same length class but none had the girth of this fish. Trout fishing on our fly-out fishing program now includes the Kvichak River. We will now have a boat on the world famous Kvichak River which is only a short plane ride away. This river boasts trout that come right out of Lake Illiamna and rival any steelhead in the world for their fight.
I have never seen trout jump this high in my life! With a customer on my bow, standing on the deck, a trout jumped as high as her eye balls once hooked and threw the hook, maybe 7′? INCREDIBLE!!. This was a common theme there with fish leaping to heights unheard of time and time again. We managed to land several of these Kvichak rainbows and these fish were one of the highlights for sure on our rainbow fishing for 2018. Just an incredible trout season and probably our best in many many seasons!
Looking Forward to the 2019 Fishing Season
Overall, 2018 was a great year on the Alagnak River for guests of Anglers Alibi – and we certainly expect the same numbers in 2019. However, we are also excited about our new King Camp…an Early Season King Salmon Camp with fishing on the Nushagak River. Whether you come early for kings or all the other species – Contact Uscontact Anglers Alibi to figure out the best time for your Alaska fishing trip!
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.