Karluk, AK report

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by andrew, Sep 28, 2004.

  1. andrew

    andrew Active Member

    Karluk, AK.

    BACKGROUND STUFF: (skip to FISHING if you don’t like reading)

    My father and I found ourselves in “Ted Stevens” Airport on Friday the 17th watching the baggage carousel go round and round without our gear (all the while thinking we are in for one hell of a spending spree!)! Luckily our baggage was not lost but on it’s way to Kodiak the following morning.

    From Anchorage we headed to Kodiak the following morning and from there took Island Air to Karluk, a ‘small’ village on the southwest portion of the island. Total flight time was 40 minutes; which consisted of dodging mountains, and battling turbulence from a 30-year-old twin engine British “museum-grade” aircraft.

    Our party consisted of 12 guys (mostly from the Minneapolis area), with my father and I being the “outsiders” from WA and MI. We arrived at the lodge around noon and quickly settled in and were given our “briefing/orientation” by the owner, Martha. Martha is easily a story…or maybe books worth of writing alone…a simplistic description would be a drill instructor – fly fisher - badass Martha Stuart!

    We fished seven days from 16’ john-boats powered by ‘whopper’ 9.9 outboards that transported us from the lodge roughly 1-2 miles up the “lagoon” to the mouth of the river. The lagoon was roughly half a mile wide with water levels anywhere from 12-18” at low tide to 5-8’ at high tide. The Karluk River was approximately 100 yards wide and averaged 1-2 feet, mostly consisted of ‘pocket water.’


    Was simply unbelievably GREAT! From my best ‘guestimate’ my father and I averaged 25 silvers/person/day…with an average weight around 12 pounds…that is 2,100 pounds total! As for gear we took way too much, but better safe than pissed off and miserable! We fished primarily with our spey rods, although difficult to cast in the boat alongside someone else they were easier to cast in the typical 20-40 wind gusts. One day it reached near 60-mph wind gusts and was more difficult to stand than to throw a 100’ roll cast! I fished a floating line with both intermediate and type 2 sink tips depending on the tide with a 3’ section of 30 lb. leader with 12 lb. tippet. Flies that seemed to work the best were pink and white clouser, pink articulated string leech, and my “super prawn” tube fly. Some of the others had good luck with polly wogs during the early morning ‘feed’, but definitely weather dependant! The ‘bite’ was so extreme you caught fish on a poor cast that hit the water during your backcast or if you simply threw your fly overboard to get it out of the way while releasing a fish! Most fish were caught by steadily stripping 12-18” of line…depending on the current and bite the strip was either modified to ‘jerky’ or ‘super fast’.

    Spent one day in the river chasing early winter steel and dollies. The ‘rigging’ consisted of a single egg on a 8 or 10 hook with shot 18” above all ‘hung’ from a strike indicator. Managed to catch my first steelhead…which was a scrappy 24” torpedo! Dollies seemed to strike every cast with sizes ranging from 10” to 24”.


    The trip was worth every penny! It was seven days of good food, good company, and definitely exceptional fishing! Weather was not nice, but who gives a rat’s ass when the fishing is unbelievable!

    More pictures to come...

    Attached Files:

  2. Diehard

    Diehard aka Justin

    Awesome report. Man I need to get up to Alaska sometime. :eek:
  3. troutpocket

    troutpocket Active Member

    Great report! My time up there was too early in the summer for fly casting to silvers. I did go out on a charter (gear) and had unbelievable fishing for kings, silvers, pinks, rockfish, and halibut. I will go back . . .

    Rod bawling:
  4. msteudel

    msteudel Mark Steudel

    great report!
  5. Cut-Throat

    Cut-Throat New Member

    I thought I'd at least get honorable mention.............

    For setting you up with such a great trip! :beer2:

    Did we not catch fish until we were sick and tired of pulling them in?

    Kevin :thumb:
  6. andrew

    andrew Active Member

    Sorry Kevin :thumb:

    The entire trip....starting many months ago was planned exceptionally well by Kevin, i..e. "Cut-Throat". Thanks again for "lurking" on a Washington site and offering an invite!

    If anyone has a question about fishing trips, guides, destinations, and accomodations..."Cut-Throat" is your man. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience!

    Once again thanks Kevin...I have a CD of pictures...I'll send them your way soon!

  7. riverdog

    riverdog Member

    Great report. I made it as far as the Anchorage airport in July, but got "weathered out" of Kodiak. Next year I'll have to shoot for Karluk, rather than hitting the road system.

  8. flybill

    flybill Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!

    Great report Andrew! Post more pictures when you get a chance! I need a trip like that next year.

  9. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    I need to get back down to Kodiak sometime only one steelie? Thats kinda odd I hooked 3 last time I went silver fishing

    Did you ever get to float tube for silvers? I've always wanted to go to Kodiak to do that :D
  10. kodiaksalmon

    kodiaksalmon Jeff B.

    ak powder monkey- Amen on "Proud to Be Alaskan." With all this talk of Kodiak, I'm missing it like crazy, as I just transferred out of there. Just a couple of thoughts on silvers from a float tube- It's great fun, but each of the main spots on the road system have their own caveats. You need to check with Milpol on the CG base to see what their policy is that year on watercraft on Buskin Lake. It changes every year, depending on who's in charge. When I left, they were allowed again, but for the longest time even float tubes and pontoon boats were not allowed on the lake. If you're civilian, Milpol can't really bother you too much, but they will call the troopers and they'll come down and fine you. And if you fish at the "Y", I'd recommend a pontoon boat over a float tube, as it's only 2-5' deep in most areas with 1-4' of weeds. And because of those weeds, it's depth, and it's exposure to the summer sun, it holds alot of heat, relative to the water around it. There's not much tidal infulence, so the water gets warm August/September. If you're trying to revive a nice fresh silver to release it, it can be a bear in water that warm. The same goes for Rose Tead, as far as weeds, but it's got more of an ocean influence to keep it cooler, you just have to give a wide berth to all the German tourists down at the River Camps. I can't wait to get back up there!
    Take care all,
  11. Roper

    Roper Idiot Savant

    About how many pennies was that? Enquiring minds (and wallets) want to know.
  12. andrew

    andrew Active Member

    I spent some pretty hefty coin...however, since I fish maybe once a month I rationalized it by convincing myself...(and most importantly my wife) it is a trip of a life time (fishing related!).

    -Can't help you on airfare since I used my mileage...figure $400.00.

    -Karluk Lodge is $2,900 per person (Martha will deal if you book the lodge = 10 persons...she cut us a rate of 2,500 per person (thanks to Kevin :thumb:)
    Includes: three meals...food was great!...sample: breakfast = eggs, bacon, toast, potatoes, assortment of fruit, and most importantly coffee! Lunch = was a sack, usually a sandwich, chips, candy bar, and water/pop or thermos of coffee. 5:30 was the usual time we came back, and there was appetizers waiting for us (i.e. hotwings). Dinner = one night we had corn beef with potatoes, salad, and homemade strawberry/rubarb pie.

    -A boat with motor for transportation.
    -Fish processing (if fish are kept)
    -And of course lodging ("bunk" style)

    Other expenses:

    -Shuttle flight to Karluk, Island Air was the cheapest at $120.00 one way with an allowable freight of 70 pounds (65 cents per pound over)

    -Figure also two nights one in Anchorage and one in Kodiak, and if the weather goes crappy; which I can attest to...you may get stuck in Kodiak.
    Be wise and give yourself plenty of travel time.

    -Gratuity for staff = $150

    -Seven day license = $30

    Total = somewhere in the $3,500 range.

    Andrew = I'm officially broke and accepting handouts! :clown:

    Attached Files:

  13. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Real good steelhead and salmon fishing a bit cheeper
    Airfare seattle to anchorage figure 300/ person, you can find one for 200
    Airfare anchorage to Yakatat Juneau or sitka 300/ person (you might find seattle to SE Ak)
    Forest Service cabin: $30
    airfair to said cabin: ~$400 /hr 800 pounds total so about 2 people and gear
    or you can hitch hike then hike to on of the situk cabins
    fishing liscence: $30
    Food for 2 for a week: ~$300
    :beer1: : ~$100

    thousands of steelhead, src, rainbows, salmon, halibut, rockfish eagles mountains and lots of rain: Priceless

    For kodiak you can definately do it on your own for cheeper then a lodge however I'd recomend going to south east or floating a wilderness river in western AK wich runs about $700 pr person from anchorage IMO lodges are a rip off in AK because the fishing is so freaking easy, also IMO fishing guiding in AK off the road system is an unskilled job. If you must have a guide well pay for my trip from anchorage and $50/ day and you have one
  14. Cut-Throat

    Cut-Throat New Member

    I just saw your comments, and Andrew did not fish for Steelhead that much. You should note that our group caught over 125 Steelhead for the Week and hooked a lot more. I'll attach a couple pictures of some Steelies.

    Also, as for your comments that you could do it cheaper. Maybe. I've made 17 trips to Alaska and for working folks whose time is money. A lodge, with boat, motor, gas, accomodations. food, hot showers, hors' derves offers a great time with most of it spent fishing. A week spent 'doing it yourself' may be cheaper, but if you don't catch anything and spend most of your time cooking, packing lunches and figuring out logistics can be a total waste (been there done that). I do the 'do it yourself' thing in the lower 48, where you don't need an airplane, but when in the true roadless wilderness of Alaska - I'll take the lodge anyday. And for cost per pound of fish caught - the lodge will be cheaper in the long run.

    Our Group of 12 caught over 1200 Fresh Coho that averaged over 12lbs. with many over 16 lbs. So, you do get what you pay for. BTW - This was basically a self guided trip. We used the lodge for food, accomodations, and boats.



  15. Steelie Mike

    Steelie Mike Active Member


    If you guys planning another trip up there and need someone to fill a slot let me know. I would love to go but don't have many friends that you pay that kind of change to get there. Awesome pics! It looks like a trip of a lifetime.
  16. kodiaksalmon

    kodiaksalmon Jeff B.

    Well said Cut-Throat. I'd also have to slightly disagree with the above comments about guiding in AK being an unskilled job...as I was one for a lodge and on my own. But oh well. Anyway, those pics are fantastic! I'm glad you had a great trip!

    Take care all,
  17. Cut-Throat

    Cut-Throat New Member

  18. Cut-Throat

    Cut-Throat New Member

    We usually have a trip there every few years. I did post this here last year and the moderators thought I was selling trips. I wasn't!

    Andrew saw it, and him and his dad fit right into our group. Send me your e-mail address and I'll keep it on file and let you know when we are having another trip. :)
  19. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    I'd say 90% of the guides are actully from out of state and I'd guess 75% regularly smoke weed and drink way to much, granted they learn to get good at their job, and become good fishermen or boat drivers or whatever through experiance, but the fishing in remote areas is freaking easy anybody could do super good here, whereas if you sent our guys to Montana they'd probably do ok but nothing like a master guide. docking Airplanes is an unskilled job I had no qualifications to do it before i did and lerned fast, of course I'm kinda biased I have to convince a few lodge owners or float trip out fitters that I'm better then everybody else

    Oh and Cut-throat glad to hear you guys did good on steelies I was getting worried for a sec, makes sense now

    Yea I guess if you aren't 17 and poor a lodge might be nice, but with 24 hours of light theres enough time to finish all chores and cast till your arms come off