March Madness on the Naknek River

For my first trip of 2005, I decided to go fish the Naknek River in King Salmon Ak. last week with a friend of mine. I also wanted to see a buddy ( Bob C. ) who lives there who I hadn't seen in almost 20 years. When we arrived via Pen Air, Bob was waiting in the terminal for us, after introducing Bob to my friend Norm, we loaded our gear in the truck and headed to his house to unpack. That took about 15 minutes, then we hooked the boat to the truck and headed for the river. The temperature outside was a balmy 46 degrees, and partly cloudy. I was so excited to be back here fishing, I could hardly maintain my composure. If you've never fished the Naknek before, the only word that could accurately describe it would be...WOW! Big water, so clear it's deceiving and remote. Now to the fishing, we put in up by Naknek Lake, and motored up about half a mile to Trefonts Cabin. It didn't take long before we were into some big, and beautiful rainbows. I am sooo happy, good friends, great fishing and the peace of mind that only the surrounding stillness and solitude can bring. We fished for a while longer, then we motored over to where some of Bob's friends were trapping beavers and having a bar-b-que, what a life. We went home and had fresh Bering Sea King Crab for dinner and watched those country comedy guys ( Jeff Foxworthy, the get er done guy and two others ) what a hoot. Well, to make this long story shorter, the next day of fishing turned into a survival trip. The temperature had dropped overnight to minus 17 degrees wind chill factor with 30 knot winds. Against better judgement we went anyway. Going up river was cold but bearable, coming back was brutal, between the tide rolling in and the wind blowing downstream we were fighting 7-8 foot swells that were sending waves crashing over the bow and freezing on impact, we had to turn around in that mess and go to shore and break into a cabin. Bob knew the owner, so I felt better about that. We started a fire, got warm and dried out, then we went down to the boat and bailed out the water, and reached a consensus, we needed to try to make it back now, because if the river froze overnight we would be stuck with no cell phone coverage and no way to get back until the river thawed. Luckily, the silent prayers I was saying to myself worked, the winds layed down a little and although it was still a bit hairy, we made it back to town alive. Some of you are probably wondering what does this story have to do with fishing? Nothing to those who have never pushed the envelope when it comes to going up against mother nature, to those of you who have and survived, you smile and say your thank you's, and look back on those times as just another adventure doing the things you love to do ( knowing the outcome could easily have been entirely different ). So in closing, I hope that your 2005 fishing season provides many first's for you all, and remember... never get so busy that you can't enjoy the sound that your favorite stream makes, or so stressed out that you fail to appreciate the wonder of a sunrise. Truly, some of the best things in life are free...

D ray

P.S. I'll try to put the pictures in order of events.


Piscatorial predilection
Those are some killer pictures! Now that's the size rainbows we all dream about. Glad it all turned out positive....




Be the guide...
Holding back the beaver comments...

What, no 20lbers???

That is HARD CORE. My fingers got numb just looking....
chadk said:
Holding back the beaver comments...

What, no 20lbers???

That is HARD CORE. My fingers got numb just looking....
Chad you took the words right out of my mouth... :D Talk about troopers! The best picture is with D-Ray and the other gent standing in frozen clothing :thumb:

I got to fish the lake back in '01 I think. I fly out there as part of a CG HH65 crew, as we had to fly some ATON guys to Dillingham and down around Egegik We were there for a week, and it was myself and anothe flight mech, so I flew one day, he flew the next. Well my days off, I fished. I stopped in at that "tackle"/bait/sporting goods/odds and ends store out on the East side of town. I told the guy I wanted to catch just one fish while I was there, and I'd be happy. He paused for a second, and then said, "Alright, listen up..." he gave me directions to a rock just off to the left of the boat launch you probably took. He told me there's always a nice 'bow that sits just behind that, and if he's hungry, he'll eat. I'm thinking to myself that this will be good casting practice, and that guy was full of it. But low and behold, after my 20 minute drive out there, there that darn fish was, and he was hungry! I caught him on the second cast-into 30 kt winds and rain on a size 10 wooly bugger that I was able to tie up in my room the night before with what limited materials I hadn't forgotten back home in Kodiak, along with my flies! Just an awesome fish. A goregeous, fat, 'bow. I don't even remember how big he was, other than to say he wasn't 20 lbs, but he wasn't any less than several. Man, I'm getting excited talking about it.

And I do know what you're talking about going up against nature. I remember flooding the raft on moose hunts, getting caught in a white out at 3,000 feet (high by Kodiak standards) and having to sit down and wait for a couple of hours while rabbit hunting....can't wait to get back and live the rest of my life there!!

great story and pictures. reminds me of how easily you can find yourself pushing the envelope in Alaska. Looks like a close one there. In 20 years up there i had more close calls than i care to remember, and they say the closest ones are those you never even knew about. It's not a place that hesitates to thin the herd so to speak. I read once that accidents are actually the most common cause of death in Alaska. Thing is, the fishing is worth the risk! glad you got pictures because i people have trouble believing some of the things that can happen up there. :cool:
Great story, my friend and I are going up to fish the Naknek next month. I have a distant relative that guides on the river and he has been trying to get me up there for years. Well I am finally going to do it and your story and pictures just solidify my decision to go.
Rick Billings

Nice shots of the River, brings back all sorts of memories of going through some rough times on that water. Also, memories of 'bows that could pull your arm off. If you are ever up there again, I would recomend not falling asleep drifting down the river - bad things happen when you get to the mouth in a 16' skiff.
I used to commercial fish that area when fishing paid real money. We used to keep a few rods on board for dead time.
Alaskan, buck tooth, beaver has a beautiful pelt and is rather tasty when cooked up as a roast. Hell, for that matter muskrat is good too.
Ya, the Bristol area is very nice. Hope it can stay that way. Keep your ears to the wind in regards to the drilling activity and the new placer gold find that will impact the drainages of Bristol.
I've been gone from Alaska for 5 years and I still sigh when I think of the crazy times we had there. 360 days of crazy no matter what time of the year we had the pedal to the floor. :rofl: