Alagnak River

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Sageman, Jun 16, 2005.

  1. Sageman

    Sageman Member

    Oct 7, 2004
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    Yakima, WA
    Going up to the Alagnak July 6-14th, my first trip down this particular river. I've got a lot of information on this river and plan on having black and olive wooly buggers, battle leeches, egg patterns, and some sockeye orange patterns as well. Oh, a couple of shrew patterns too....

    I'm always looking for more information though if anybody has some personal experience on the Alagnak. Hate to get back and find out that I should have done this or that...
  2. Couleeflyfisher

    Couleeflyfisher Member

    Oct 4, 2001
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    Your choice of flies will work, if conditions are good you're on target for sockeye action, plus should hit a few rainbows and grayling. Are you going self guided thru Branch River Air or to a lodge? Drop me a line and I'll share a couple of pictures.
  3. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

    Dec 10, 2003
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    Olympic Peninsula
    Home Page:
    Can you tell us more about where you are launching from, your camping and drift times?

    Generally you can expect decent fishing then. The King run is mostly over then but a lot of dark spawners will be around, and an errant late run King could slap you good.. That means big tough Bows feeding on eggs, some Grayling too. The best Big Bow fishing is in the fall, but you can hit it lucky here and there then in july too. You will be in Sockeye Heaven. ( A few years ago AKF&G got a research grant for an "over-escapement" of Sockeye in the Alagnak to the tune of some several million fish!)

    The upper river, above and through and just below "The Braids" will fish best for Rainbows. It will also be swarming with jet boats from Katmai Lodge and several other operators on the river, and a few fly in operators with boats on the river, and other drifters. There can easily be a few hundred anglers per day on the Alagnak.

    So I would be planning to fish the pre-dawn and early a.m hours, and then have breakfast and a rest late morning, when all the boats and planes start tearing the river up all day, and wait until about four p.m.- when all the lodges guests are going home for their gourmet dinners- to then resume fishing right up until sunset, which will be very late at night! The biggest problem will be to put yourself top bed at a realistic hour so you have the rest and energy and sanity to enjoy your trip. Make a plan for that and stick too it.

    Bears can be a huge pain in the ass there as they are used to people drifting and camping and they are very good at stealing food and anything chewy or rubbery or smelling of food or grease or soap etc. The Alagnak bears enjoy a reputation for being very nosey and intrusive in camps. I would be surpsrised to hear of a bad incident there with a bear, unless it was human stupidity that caused it. I believe you need a wilderness pass and a Bear Orientation Class from the Katmai Park Visitor Center Rangers (in King Salmon) to do that trip from the Park and Nunvianuk or Kukaklek. That used to be the case. And they required Bear Proof food cannisters too. I think they loaned them out and may still do that. Follow the rules and you will be fine.

    Downriver from The Braids and closer to tidewater you will find some slews and backwater ponds and small empoundments, beaver dammed etc. These areas can hold big Pike and you should give that a whack while you are at it. Smaller flash flies and bright streamers and dartys will work on Sockeye if you dont snag them on the swing. It is very easy to snag Sockeye in the mouth on the swing. Too easy. And even easier to tell yourself that you hooked them fairly.

    Waked and skated flies can take bows sometimes. Especially in riffles and pocketwater. But by July and salmon run time most dry fly action is limited to Grayling. There can be some hefty Grayling up there. Your trout will respond to a Glo Bug drifted on the bottom, a split shot set at about 12 to 16 inches above the fly. Beads are optional but local rules require specific rigging for beads- check the current AKF&G regs! I like Glo Bugs better but Beads are deadly.

    Take a look at The Alaska Flyfishers website ( ), they used to have a great story there about the trip down the Alagnak, with tons of good info. They may still have a Forum page where you might find a lot of contemporary help for camping and fishing, flies, drifting, hazards etc. Have a very clear idea of the conditions prior to your trip.

    There is also a river conditions and hazards and reports webpage for Alaska. Try "Alaska Raft and Kayak" in Anchorage for more river info as they have their ears to it daily. Very sharp rivermen.

    I love the Alagnak. I once worked for some very bad people there but the river is hauntingly beautiful and it has never left me. Autumn is especially beautiful. But I can asure you that anytime you drift down the Alagnak will be the trip of a lifetime. Plan it well.

    Van Hartley's Branch River Air Service,(King Salmon and Anchorage), is the best bet for outfitting,travel and supply for that trip. Hands down, he's the man. I would stake my life on him- in fact I have a few times- and I would only fly with Branch River Air in that area. "Best In The Bush".
  4. Irafly

    Irafly Indi "Ira" Jones

    Mar 14, 2003
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    Bothell, Washington, USA.
    Dear Bob,

    I was almost able to take this trip with Sageman so I understand how much he's looking forward to the trip. Your well thought out straight forward advice above and beyond the call of duty is truly amazing. People on this forum who really take the time and effort to answer someones query are rare and in much deservance of more praise (I know I'm not one of them.) I say,


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