The fishing season begins toward the middle of June. At that time, most guests visit to fish for Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden and Grayling. As June comes to an end, the Sockeye Salmon begin their run up to NakNek lake through the river, soon to follow are the King Salmon. The Sockeye Salmon otherwise known as Red Salmon are the most prolific run of all Salmon species in the Bristol Bay area. They enter the river by the millions. They are plankton and krill feeders so getting them to actually bite a fly is quite difficult. However, there have been various techniques invented to hook quite a few of these powerful, acrobatic fish. At times, during the peak of the run, your arm will begin to tire from attempting to reel in so many. The run begins to taper off toward the middle of July. I always suggest combining your fishing at this time of year and fish for some King Salmon along with trout as well. Also, if you arrive at the right time you can fish for Sockeye, Chum and King Salmon. Mother nature controls that of course.
The King Salmon or Chinook is the largest of the Pacific Salmon. They tend to average anywhere between 20-30 pounds. I have seen some over fifty caught in that region, but not often. I have seen many over 40 pounds and a lot over 30 pounds. When you hook one of these fish, you know it. They have been in the ocean anywhere from 3 to 5 years and are just entering the freshwater river when you hook them. They put on quite a fight and are not shy to jump. We fish for King Salmon on three river systems. The NakNek of course, Alagnak and Nushagak where we have an outcamp. They begin their run toward the end of June until the 31st of July. The season then closes and fishing for King Salmon is prohibited..
Chum Salmon or Dog Salmon begin swimming up the rivers there in early to mid July. These fish average between 8 and 12 pounds. They are incredibly aggressive toward flies and provide great fun when trying to reel them in. In the guide world, Chums are frowned upon. To me, they are a savior. I have never heard anyone complain (besides guides) when they have a Chum on the line. They provide hours of entertainment all the while practicing your casting and mending, while hooking fish. Could not be better! When fishing for the Chum, the guides usually try to fish you in a place that is more toward the lower 8 or 10 miles of the river so you have an opportunity to present a fly to them when they are fresh up from the ocean. If you find yourself casting to a fresh push of Chums from the ocean, your reel will be screaming. The Chum run tapers off toward the end of August. If you want hot Chum action, the beginning of August is prime time.
Pink Salmon are the next on the list. The Pink or Humpy Salmon run every even year. So, 2015 will not produce any Pink Salmon. I shouldnt say that, there are always a few, but large numbers you will not find. These fish flood the river systems. They average 6-8 pounds and fight well. Most of the time they are incidental catches while pursuing Chum or Silver Salmon.They are fun. When the Pinks and Chums come up the rivers together your hard pressed not to hook a fish. I would say, its almost impossible. I have seen people miss a strike, have the fly land behind them in the water (they are casting from a boat) and hook one before they can retrieve their fly to cast again. Its just sick. The sheer numbers can be mind boggling. The Pink Salmon begin their run in late July, on even years only and they start to drop off near the end of August.
Silver or Coho Salmon begin their journey upriver toward the beginning of August. They are aggressive toward a fly and I have seen them chase a very fast stripped fly for twenty or thirty feet and then smashing down on it. They are great fighters and acrobatic. They put on a good show most of the time. When you get into a pod of aggressive Silvers it will be something you will not soon forget.....ever. Heck, I still see some the pods of Silvers in my head and I was not even fishing for them. Guests of mine were. You will not forget them. They peel line, change direction fast and overall they are a great sport fish. They begin to slow down toward the end of August. Just a little side note. I have seen some tremendous Silver fishing in early September and even into the first two weeks of September. I have looked around and been the only boat in sight. I can not guarantee the September run, however, if you want to take a chance and combine it with a Rainbow Trout/Dolly Varden/Grayling trip, you may be suprised, delightfully.
Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden and Grayling are the resident species that you can find just about anytime in this region of Alaska. Their populations are abundant in most river systems and I can guarantee you will catch them along with various other species of Salmon as well. If you dedicate a day or two toward these species you will find them on the end of your line eventually. If its Rainbow Trout pushing the 30" and over mark you are after, I suggest that you visit around the 15th of September, a little earlier or later. It all depends again on Mother nature. The large Rainbow Trout that live in NakNek lake come down from the lake and begin feeding on spawning Red Salmon eggs along with their flesh from the dying Reds. This smorgasboard of food brings down some very large fish. It is not uncommon to hook five or six fish between 23 and 28" in a day along with one over 30" to boot. That is a good day durning the peak of the season. At times, you can do better than that! Another option during this time of year is a fly-out to a special little river that holds 30+" Dolly Vardens. They are in their peak spawning colors at this time and are a special catch. There are literally hundreds of them, well, not all over 30", but you will be busy releasing fish all day.
Typcically, a day of fishing begins at 7am. This time will change with the season depending upon the amount of light left to begin/finish a day. Breakfast is served at 6:00am. From there you will prepare yourself for the day and meet your guide at 7. If you are fishing on the NakNek river you will take a short walk to the boats located at the dock. If you are flying out for the day, you will be transferred to the float planes. You will fish anywhere between 8 & 10 hours a day. Most of the time you will begin your return to the lodge at 4:30. Upon arrival to the lodge,you can freshen up and make your way to the lodge where folks begin to gather in the Great Room for appetizers and cocktails. Dinner is served at 7pm. After dinner most folks stick around a bit to chat then shortly after, go back to their rooms/cabins to prepare for the next day of fishing.
It is always suggested to bring your own personal fishing equipment, however, the lodge will provide you with all of your basic fishing equipment. The equipment is of excellent quality and well maintained.They have waders and boots available as well, in all sizes. Also, there is a store there to purchase anything that you may have forgotten or need. If you are coming and want to specialize in a certian type of fishing it is highly suggested that you bring your own equipment. For example, if you would like to catch a King Salmon on a fly fishing rod it would be recommended to bring all of your own equipment and to have practiced with that equipment well before your trip. Fishing for King Salmon with a fly rod requires some expertise and specifics. You are much better off with your own gear in persuing a fish of that caliber on a fly rod. Another example would be if you were looking to fish for late season Rainbow Trout. Again, it is a type of fishing where the more practiced you are the better chance you have of hooking your target fish. Both types of fishing are best suited for a Two or Double Handed Spey Rod with different types of sinking heads. The lodge does have limited Spey Fishing tackle and equipment available, if necessary.
When visiting Bear Trail Lodge you will have a choice between either staying in a room by yourself, if your a single that is, or staying in one of the many cabins available. The cabins will host a minimun of two guests and up to four guests. They are all located on the banks of the the NakNek River just a short distance from the lodge. There are also rooms in the lodge available for those of you who are interested. If you let me know what accomodations you are looking for, most of the time they can be arranged. Be sure not to forget your swim suit, there is a hottub located on the river side of the lodge overlooking the mouth of King Salmon Creek as it enters the NakNek. Its a great palce to unwind while taking in the memories of the day.
Bear Trial supplies the guests with all the fishing equipment that you will need. Rods, reels and tackle are given to guests for daily use. Waders and wade boots are also given to guests upon arrival. Please be sure to bring your own rain gear and hats. I will discuss with you any further questions you may have concerning tackle, gear and equipment if your are interested in reserving a trip at Bear Trail Lodge.
When planning a trip to the lodge you will first need to get to Anchorage, Alaska(ANC). From there, the trip is all inclusive. You will just have to send me your flight itinerary and the flights will be booked to get to King Salmon, Alaska. Once you have reached King Salmon there will members from Bear Trail present at the airport to meet you and take you to the lodge. The lodge is located only 5 minutes from the airport.
Here is a basic pricing sheet with the most common amount of days listed. Dependant upon what you would like, different requests can be priced as well. Just let me know.
3 nights, 3 full days of fishing: $4,400
5 nights, 5 full days of fishing: $5,500
6 nights, 6 full days of fishing: $6,575
7 nights, 7 full days of fishing: $8,175