Alagnak river float

I did an Alagnak float in late July some years ago. The river was pretty barren and there were a lot of jet boats from the two lodges on the river (Katmai lodge is the big one). We caught some decent fish but the large fish were just not there; either they were migrated somewhere else or they are much reduced from the Alagnak of yesteryear. If I did another similar trip in Alaska I would not go to the Alagnak again, regardless of season.
Bush flying does have its ups and downs. Ouch!
yes it does. Bing search this: "branch river air" crash

or search, "crash" and the name of most other major bush flight operations, and you will find plenty of such stories and reasons. It is not a particularly forgiving environment, either in the air, or on land.

The proximate cause is usually something having to do with weather (visibility, wind), pilot skill, mechanics, ground conditions, etc., and dumb luck or the lack thereof. Speaking of which, I would be happy to be alive after such a landing.
Whats the story behind the crash?
We were in King Salmon, AK for the week with Patty from Blue Fly (

On Tuesday August 19th my uncle, his friend, our guide Will and myself were picked up by a Cessna 2006 Float Plane at the Blue Fly dock on the Naknek river. We were flown out to a small lake near the Little Kukaklek River to do some hiking, fishing and bear watching. Had a fantastic day catching nice trout and we saw 14 bears. At the end of the day we hiked out to the little lake to catch our ride home.

We boarded another Cessna 206 for the flight home. The pilot went as far down the lake as he could to get a good take off run. I was watching the airspeed and was getting a bit worried as we neared the end of the lake. The pilot was able to yank the aircraft off the water just in time to keep us from slamming directly into the bank on then end of the lake but we managed to smack the bottom of one of the floats on a rock. As far as I remember we pitched nose up and started to turn to the right and then all of a sudden the pilot placed the plane down on the tundra. We slid about 200 yds before coming to a stop with the prop kicking up moss and grass.

At this point we started asking if everyone was okay. Miraculously there were no injures, not even bumps or bruises.

We did however find out real quick that the float struts had buckled upwards and were blocking us from exiting the aircraft. The pilot had to use his multi-tool to open the window and crawl out that way. He then was able to bend some of the struts out of the way so we could get the rear door open enough to pop it off its hinges.

To add to the accident the plane we were in had a bad radio and the pilot had only a crappy hand held radio that he couldn't raise anyone on. He ended up turning on the emergency locater beacon on to get help. After about 30 minutes a Helio Courier flew over and landed to help. He had a full load but a Beaver was on the way to help shuttle us out to nearby Kukaklek Lake where another Beaver picked us up and flew us back to King Salmon.

A few days later the aircraft was brought back to town by helicopter, cost 10k from what I heard, and as of Sunday 24 Aug when I left King Salmon was still sitting there.

Thankfully no one was hurt physically.

Also I have been long interested in getting my pilots license and this day was my first experience with smaller aircraft. The experience did nothing to persuade me from my interest in flying and in fact we flew again a few days later, albeit, in a Beaver to a much bigger lake

FAA Probable Cause Report:

Me on the far left pilot on the far right surveying the damage

View attachment 35083

Bears on Little Ku

Finally some fish porn:

From the Kulek River:

Awesome, wished you would of stopped by for a drink and some Rainbow talk, it was the toughest rainbow fishing I have seen there ever, doing the Goodnews and Kanectok next season...

The Goodnews is a great float, did that in 2007. Looked into the Alagnak, but seems to be too popular these days. Heard of crowds at the lake waiting to float, crowded gravel bars, cat holes all over, etc.. Have not been there, but that is what I was told. I prefer more solitude myself.
The Overlake Fly Fishing Club is trying to finalize their plans for 3 trips to Alaska this year… We've got two trips in June to the Alagnak, and one trip to the Kanektok in August. The August trip is almost full, but we still have a couple of openings on all of the trips. These are club sponsored trips being offered by the Overlake Fly Fishing Club at a lower cost than is normally done, since some of the costs can be reduced, being offered by the club. We will have two Past Presidents, and one vice president doing the guiding and rowing (Joe and John Kristoff, and Dicl Lange). The first trip in June on the Alagnak is a little longer (12 days on the water) than the second, and therefor we can lower the price on the second trip. Here are the costs of the trips, and the dates. If you ever wanted to go to a river where you have a good chance at catching a 10 pound rainbow and a 15 pound lake trout on a fly, the Alagnak is the trip you want to go on. If you want to go on a trip where the silvers are abundant, and the rainbow fishing is great - especially for the Leopard Rainbows, then the Kanektok river is the trip for you.

June 7-18 Alagnak - $2500 C - 2000 Rainbows and Grayling
June 18-26 Alagnak - $2000 C - 1800 Rainbows and Grayling
Aug 19-29 The Silver River - the Kanektok - $3000 Rainbows, Silvers, Grayling and Char

The price for club members is the number after the C… If you wanted to go as a club member, you will need to send a membership application and the cost of membership to the OFFC. If you are interested in going as a club member, contact Dick Lange (akflyfisher) immediately, and he can help set you up.

If you have any interest in joining John, Joe and Dick this year, please let us know as soon as you can. If we keep our costs down, we might be able to bring the Kanektok trip in under $3000, and we will refund any money that is left after our trip expenses are covered.

This year is going to be another great year for the Alagnak, with a near record run of spawning salmon, and a really cold winter - the fish entered the fall fat, and had a lot to eat with all the eggs and flesh floating down the river this winter. With a cold winter - ice will come off the lake late, which means the fingerlings will not have started their run before we get their, so the fish will be very aggressive when it comes to finding food - and flies….

The Kanektok had a bad storm roar thru last August, and even though the water went up a foot, it did relatively little damage to the spawning beds. The river had a great silver run 3 years ago, so they are expecting a large number of silvers coming back this year. Joe's fly, the Silver Slayer, is one of the best silver flies we have ever fished with. The last four days on the river will be aimed at the silvers, while the first 8 days will be aimed at the Kanektok River's Leopard Rainbows, and its huge run of Arctic Char that will be in the river - from the confluence of the Klak, on down. They aggresively go for egg flies…

Come on up and join us this year. It’s a trip you won't forget. We'll fish till we drop, eat well, and we won't have to lie about the size of our fish. We'll take pictures and leave footprints and be dazzled by the beauty of our surroundings and the fish we will catch as we float quietly down the river, in search of wild rainbows...


Proud to Be Alaskan
hey Richard drop me a PM, I'll be on the river during your second float, maybe I'll come find you... I want to hear about these 10 pound rainbows on the branch (I'm skeptical).... I'll bring fresh bread or something we can barter...
Just start fishihg down below the first big set of flats, until you get to the first white water. There are a lot of big fish just in tht stretch along. Fish DEEP, with BIG Streamser (2 1/2 to 3" long. THey are there.


Doesn't care how you fish Moderator
hey Richard drop me a PM, I'll be on the river during your second float, maybe I'll come find you... I want to hear about these 10 pound rainbows on the branch (I'm skeptical).... I'll bring fresh bread or something we can barter...
Fish the cleaning tables... Higher concentration of them!