Alagnak River Report

Discussion in 'Trip Reports with Pics' started by Steve Buckner, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

    Just got back from another season on the Alagnak and surrounding Katmai National Park. The Alagnak, the Kukaklek and Nonvianuk (the rivers that form the Alagnak) were raging in the early season. The surrounding rivers were also very high. It was a good season with lots of fish and bears.

    In late June we targeted Rainbow but the high water conditions made for some tough wading. I witnessed the largest rainbow I've seen caught on a dry fly. The fish took a size #14 elk hair caddis as it drifted down a deep pool on the American river. I would guesstimate the fish to be in the 6-7 lb. class and not a mark on it. Truly spectacular.

    We also enjoyed some tremendous grayling and char fishing. We caught a number of grayling over 20" and char to about 22" or so. Can't wait for my film to get developed to see how the colors turned out.

    By early July we started to see very good returns of Chinook and the run was strong all the way through the end of the season. We had cool rainy days for most of the season and that boded well for the fishing. This year I tried throwing a 750 grain skagit line and a 24 foot section of t-14 (400 grains) and it worked tremendously to cover the tidal water of this big system. I was extremely impressed by how well those skagit lines deliver heavy sink-tips and big flies.

    The sockeye run was estimated at about 2 million fish, down from over 5 million last year and the run was late. I suspect that their late return had something to do with the high, cold river conditions and the cool weather. With the high water we didn't spend much time targeting or should I say lining them...

    The Chum salmon were somewhat earlier this year however and we started seeing swarms in the lower Alagnak by July 12th or so. The bars were literally covered and they provided good sport for the duration of the season. The chums in the lower river are chrome bright, especially the hens, and they can be caught on surface flies-either dead drifted or skated.

    This was a 'Pink' year in Alaska and they started showing in mass by about the 20th of July or so. If a chum didn't bite your fly, you could pretty much count on a pink grabbing it, especially if you were using a bright cerise fly.

    The Coho run was very strong this year and we started catching the first coho by about the 24th of July and they are continuing to run strong as I write this. We were using large articulated bunny leeches of different colors and using a relatively fast retrieve to keep the fly higher in the water column and thus avoid catching incidental chum and pinks. Those tidewater coho can really provide some aerial action once they're hooked.

    Maybe it was the cool, windy, rainy conditions that also brought out the brown bears. We routinely saw 4-6 bears per day (and sometimes more) and I had a couple of close encounters. We had bears wandering around camp and on a couple of nights they were right outside our sleeping quarters...I was just happy to sleep inside a hard-sided building. On one of the fly-outs, a sow with 2 cubs came running down one small stream we were fishing and came within 40 feet or so...thought maybe we'd bought the farm on that one.

    Alaska was great but I'm glad to be back home in Washington and looking forward to the fall steelhead season!
  2. Steelie Mike Active Member

    Posts: 1,600
    Camas, WA
    Ratings: +24 / 0
    Thanks for the report Steve. It is great to hear your season up there went well. I hope to see you on the river this fall.
  3. John Hicks Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits

    Posts: 2,099
    Ratings: +150 / 1

    Yet another great report. You really do live the life of Riley. I look forward to a day on the water with you this winter, (Queets, sloppy joes, and stories) what else could one ask for.
  4. Russ Carson New Member

    Posts: 19
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    For some reason the char on the American were HUGE this year. They dont fight like rainbows, but they are an impressive sight.
  5. Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

    Hey Russ,
    When were you there? This year we fished the American early, late June, and although we got a couple of char they were not thick like they can be once the sockeye have moved in. We did get some great char on Contact creek. The American is such a pretty river, I had some friends that floated the whole length of it in fall of 2005, a trip they said they wouldn't do again because of high numbers of bears. I believe they said they'd counted 67 in the 4-5 days it took them to float it.