Please read the pre-trip carefully well in advance of departure —it will help you prepare for your upcoming trip to Alaska.
NOTE TO GROUP LEADERS: It is important that as a group leader you share this pre-trip information with all members of your party so that everyone is adequately prepared and understands the cancellation/refund policy pertaining to their trip. Bristol Bay Lodge will not assume any financial responsibility for consequences incurred if you do not provide this information to all members of your group.
Fly, lure and equipment suggestions are presented as guidelines compiled from decades of experience. Many factors will dictate what will be best for your angling circumstances. Fly and lure size will depend upon water level, turbidity, and the size of the natural food item you are trying to imitate. These factors can change daily. We urge all anglers not to pre-purchase flies and/or lures unless they are certain of specific conditions. Many an angler has taken hundreds of dollars worth of flies to Alaska that were never used!
Your fishing days at Bristol Bay Lodge begin the evening before with an orientation by the manager and your guide for the following day, detailing a specific schedule. Our crew is eager to share their knowledge and is sincerely interested in your personal needs and goals. Asking specific questions will help them better serve you and make your stay more productive and enjoyable.
The extreme variation in ever-changing fishing conditions/fisheries, along with a diverse number of fish species, requires a versatile tackle selection. Having the right type of equipment can often make a big difference in the number of fish taken in a given situation. Make sure to tailor your list in accordance with your fishing style and the seasonal implications of your trip.
A NOTE TO NOVICE FLY ANGLERS — It is a good idea to take fly casting lessons before going to Alaska. Also, some on-water instruction from a knowledgeable guide would be beneficial to help learn the finer points of fly fishing. After the lessons, make sure to practice as often as possible to fine-tune your new skills. This will make the trip much more enjoyable and ease initial frustrations for first-time fly casters.
CLOTHING RECOMMENDATIONS — With all the new “high tech” clothing materials available today, there is no reason to be cold and wet anymore. An underwear layer that wicks perspiration from your skin starts the process. From there, layers of insulating clothes made of wool, cotton or fleece topped off with a high-quality jacket or rain gear, if needed, will complete your outfit. Wool or poly-blend socks will keep moisture away from your feet to keep them warm and happy. Comfortable walking shoes are a must. We highly recommend that you take hiking boots, rubber boots or other treaded, water-resistant shoes for walking outside or hiking through the forest. Your raincoat should be taken along every day to ensure comfort.
We prefer that guests pack in duffels rather than hard suitcases , as soft luggage facilitates transport in light charter aircraft. The atmosphere at the lodge is informal, and casual clothing is appropriate in the evening.
WADERS — A good pair of waders may be the most important item in your duffel bag. Alaskan waters can be extremely cold throughout the season. If you buy a “bargain” pair of waders, you could get caught with a pant load of icy water. Alaska is hard on waders. Plan to do a lot of traveling in and out of boats and planes every day. Breathable waders are highly recommended because they provide maximum flexibility and comfort. They are also lighter and more convenient to pack. Stocking-foot styles provide more mobility and ankle support than boot-foot models. Do not take wading boots with cleats or studded soles! Neoprene gravel socks will protect the wader foot from abrasion and extend their life considerably. Given the variety of waters you may fish, consider taking a collapsible wading staff.
RODS & REELS — The right rod and reel combination(s) for Alaska boils down to the individual angler. Before buying any tackle, consider the species for which you will likely be fishing. You will get more enjoyment by scaling your tackle to the size and type of fish you’ll be catching.
Fly anglers should take at least two rods: a stiff-action, 9-foot, 5 or 6-weight rod will handle most trout, grayling, and char; a stiff-action, 9-foot, 8 or 9-weight is more suited for salmon. Look for fly reel models with smooth dependable drags and enough capacity to hold at least 150 yards of backing. We strongly suggest a spare spool for each reel. The spare can be “spooled” with a sink-tip sized for the existing water conditions. Three- to 5-piece travel rods are recommended as they alleviate transport hassles.
Spin/casting anglers should take a lightweight rod/reel combination for smaller fish, and a medium-action rod (6-7 foot) for salmon. The lightweight reel should hold at least 150 yards of 6- to 8-pound monofilament. Salmon reels for silvers, sockeyes, and chums should hold at least 150 yards of 12- to 15-pound monofilament.
FLY LINES — Lines for fly anglers depend upon species and water conditions. The previously mentioned trout/char outfit should be spooled with a weight-forward floating line. This will suffice for everything from nymph to dry fly fishing. Specifics on sink-tip lines become more difficult, because each sink-tip line is designed for a special set of angling circumstances. The problem is that water conditions change weekly. It doesn’t make sense to buy a sinking line until you’re certain of the conditions you’ll encounter. If at all possible, we recommend that you purchase sinking lines at the lodge.
PACIFIC SALMON (Oncorhynchus Sp.)
Important Considerations — There are five species of Pacific salmon that “run” in our waters: king/chinook, sockeye/red, chum/dog, pink/humpy and silver/coho. Each species runs at a separate time, starting with kings and ending with silvers.
The exact time when the salmon decide to move out of the ocean and into fresh water depends on several biological and environmental factors. Time of “ice out,” relative water volume of each stream, geographical location, water temperature, and past behavior of the parent run all play important roles in the migratory behavior of each salmon species.
Because of the annual fluctuation in these factors, the exact time the salmon run appears in each system will vary from year to year. Many times a single key factor will induce the fish to finally move into a river (such as a drastic change in weather or water level). The onset of bad weather, for example, is usually a positive element in salmon fishing; salmon seem to become more active (and hence more aggressive) during these periods. Heavy winds or rain often induce the salmon to move into fresh water, as both will usually cause the water temperature to change.
Many times the combination of these environmental factors will regulate the intensity of the run. If all conditions are suitable, the salmon will enter the river in a steady trickle and proceed to their spawning grounds in a normal fashion — stopping at regular intervals to rest. This is the ideal situation, because resting fish are usually more likely to take a fly or lure than fish on the move.
Most experts theorize that certain flies and lures trigger a “strike response” out of territorial aggression or some sort of primordial feeding response (there is an ongoing debate among fishermen and biologists alike concerning why salmon actually strike in fresh water). As the salmon move into the river mouths/rivers to spawn, they do not feed and must rely completely on fat reserves to complete their spawning cycle.
Choosing the proper fly or lure for salmon depends not only upon species, but also on water turbidity, relative brightness and water level. As a general rule, larger, flashier flies and lures are used when the water is cloudy. In clear water the smaller, less obnoxious offerings seem to be most effective. When low-light conditions exist it may be best to go with darker, more subtle flies and lures. Light-colored/flashy flies are usually most productive in bright conditions. These guidelines are by no means set in stone. The key is to experiment until you start getting strikes.
Note: Tackle and technique specifics for each Pacific salmon species follow.
CATCH & RELEASE — All of the species in Alaska are wild stocks of fish. Careful handling ensures the continuance of Alaska’s superb fishing. We have adopted catch-and-release policies and harvest salmon using prudent judgment. We highly recommend using single , barbless hooks. This will result in minimum hook damage and also expedite release.
Early-season angling (June through early July) in Alaska can be synonymous with high water.Angling for rainbow trout (Salmo oncorhynchus mykiss),char (Salvelinus alpinus) , andgrayling (Thymallus arcticus) during the first few weeks is normally limited to drift fishing, with wading available to the more sure-footed individuals willing to fight the current. Nymph and/or wet fly fishing predominates, as long as cold water temperatures and increased water volume keep aquatic insect activity at a low level.
Nymphs are most often fished on a “short” fly line attached to a fairly long leader to maximize fly drift and hook setting potential. Fast/deep water forces anglers to use a substantial amount of lead to get the fly down to the fish. Nymph selection depends upon what species of aquatic insects are in the water during your stay. Nymph size generally depends upon the relative size of the natural insect, turbidity, and water level (# 16-#12 is standard). Popular Alaskan nymphs are the same used in the Lower 48, ranging from small midge pupae (i.e., small Brassie Nymphs) to large stone fly patterns (Terrible Stone). Pheasant Tail, Hare’s Ear, A.P. Nymph, Zug Bug, Prince, Montana Nymph, Wooly Worm, Peeking Caddis, Squirrel Nymph, Rubberlegs, Brown Hackle Peacock, and Grey Nymph are just a few of the popular choices. Bead-headed versions are popular also.
Dry Fly Fishing for rainbows and grayling is possible in all freestone streams as soon as water temperatures allow aquatic insect activity to increase. Grayling are one of the most dependable and eager dry fly fish in Alaska and are usually the first species to really start surface feeding. During high water, larger-than-normal dry flies are usually used to coax fish from the river bottom. Bright attractor-types such as Elk Hair Caddis, Royal Wulff and H&L Variant are among the more popular patterns. Many coastal rivers do not support a substantial population of aquatic insects because of their bottom substrate. In these situations, trout will have to be fished almost exclusively with streamers and other wet flies.
In areas with grassy banks, aquatic shrews, voles and mice all become trout fodder if they make the unlucky mistake of falling into the river. Many a double-figure rainbow has fallen prey to a deer hair mouse fished close to a grassy river bank. The best patterns for this are the simply-tied flies without chamois tails and ears (leathery patterns get bogged down and won’t ride properly in the water). Mice are best fished by “plopping” them down tight against undercut banks and then slowly “swinging” back to the angler. Muddler Minnows can be skipped through riffles by tying a half hitch behind the deer-hair head of the fly. This causes the fly to keel on the water in a tantalizing manner that often drives trout crazy. Mouse and muddler fishing is effective during certain times of Alaska’s season.
Salmon smolt, sculpins and the decomposed flesh of the previous fall’s salmon run also make up a large portion of the available game fish “food” items. Streamers, “flesh” flies and wet flies used to imitate these foods are fished using two methods. One way is to fish an unweighted fly on a sink-tip line (such as Teeny T-200/T-300 nymph lines depending upon depth and current speed) with a short leader. The other is to fish a heavily weighted fly on a full-floating line with a long leader. Both methods work equally well if done properly.
The basic technique for streamers and big wet flies is the “swing” method. This involves casting the fly upstream (angle depends on water depth), then mending the line. This action prevents the line from developing a large belly, which will inhibit the angler from feeling soft striking fish. It also allows the line to sink at its optimum rate because the angler prevents the current from catching the line. By the time the line drifts past the fisherman, the fly will have settled to the bottom where the fish are holding. The current then takes up the line and eases the fly across the bottom in a tantalizing manner. During certain periods, small wet flies can be fished in the same manner with very impressive results. Lead Wing Coachman, Black Gnats, or Parmachene Belle all are good choices. These patterns are usually fished in the riffles on a floating line during heavy insect activity. Streamer fishing is productive throughout the season.
Popular streamers include such patterns (size #4-#2) as Whitlock’s Match the Minnow series, Wool Head Sculpin, Matuka, Janssen Minnow and Thunder Creek series, Zonker, Grey Ghost, Muddler Minnow, Marabou Muddler, Joe’s Smelt, Mickey Finn, Supervisor, and similar streamer patterns. All are quite effective. Wet flies, such as the Wooly Bugger and its next of kin, the Egg Sucking Leech, are some of the most relied upon patterns for big rainbows in Alaska. Black, purple, olive, orange, white, pink and yellow are all top producers. Bunny Leeches (cream, white, and pale pink), Wooly Buggers (same colors as bunnies), Marabou Muddlers, Marabou Leeches, Zonkers, and similar flies are all good “flesh” imitators.
In June/early-July, one- and two-year-old salmon smolt migrate from freshwater river systems into the ocean. Many Alaskan rivers are interrupted by massive natural lakes, which are prime wintering areas for arctic char . As the young salmon pour out of the rivers, char will often stack up in great numbers to recklessly feast upon this abundant protein resource. The char will remain here until all of the salmon have migrated to sea, which can last through July. When the smolt are abundant, the char will usually be close to the surface. A full sink line with a maximum sink rate is key because it will get the fly down to the fish. A stiff 6- or 7-weight rod will handle the heavy sinking line nicely and will give the fish a fighting chance. The technique is simple: cast out a long line and allow the fly to sink deep, then slowly retrieve the fly in 6-inch strips while keeping the rod tip on the water to minimize slack. Experiment with the depth of the fly until you start getting strikes. The take is usually quite light so set the hook on anything abnormal. Flies should imitate the young salmon, which are three to six inches long and exude a green/pearlescent flash with a dark green back. Size #2-#4 pearl Zonkers and Gray Ghosts are top producers.
King/chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), weighing from 5 to over 100 pounds, are the largest of the five species of Pacific salmon. Kings are also the first salmon to “run” in Alaska. The exact time that kings enter a river will depend upon geographical location and the previously discussed environmental variables. Generally, they will begin to show up between late May to early June and run throughout July.
King salmon runs are nowhere near the size of the other Pacific salmon and, therefore, the angler should not expect to catch them in great numbers. Finding kings is usually not too difficult. They have a wonderful habit of frequently breaching in a spectacular rolling or splashing movement that can be seen from a great distance. This behavior is observed in all species of Pacific salmon, though no one has determined the exact reason why the fish surface in such an odd manner.
New techniques for fly fishing for king salmon are being developed every season, making this type of fishing easier and more rewarding. The king run usually coincides with peak water runoff periods and they prefer to reside in a river’s deepest pools scoured by a fast current. Kings have an almost uncanny way of positioning themselves in water just out of casting distance where it is impossible to wade in close.
In some of the smaller/clear rivers, kings can be spotted in their holding lies and sight-fished. These are obviously the most exciting conditions to encounter, as the angler has the opportunity to see the big fish take the fly. When hooked there is nothing more spectacular than seeing a 20-, 30- or even 60-pound sea-fresh king doing back flips like a 5-pound rainbow.
There are two standard angling methods for kings. The first is the previously described swing technique. Calculations for water depth and current speed must be dramatically increased to allow proper presentation. The fly line of choice is a Teeny T-200 to T-300 nymph line (line weight depends on water depth and current speed). With proper mending, kings can also be reached using a floating fly line, long leader, and a heavily weighted fly (this is a little trickier than using a heavy sink-tip line). The second method is dead-drifting large egg imitations or large nymphs in a king’s lie. Though not as often employed, this technique will sometimes produce if fish refuse a swinging fly.
Fly rod and reel combinations should be heavy enough to control running fish, which in larger bodies of water have no problem working out over 200 yards of line. Tired kings have a habit of using the current to their advantage, and there isn’t much one can do to turn 50 pounds of fish that decides to head downstream. A stiff, 9-foot, 9- or 10-weight is best, combined with a 250+ yard backing capacity reel and leader material “tipped” with nothing lighter than 20-pound monofilament. Flies for kings should be tied on super-strong 1/0-3/0 long-shank hooks. Kings have a particular weakness for black, chartreuse and fuchsia-colored patterns but, red, purple, white, yellow, olive, and orange also produce. Bunnies, Egg-Sucking Leeches, Wooly Buggers and bi-colored Bucktail streamers are popular, along with a wide array of specific lodge “favorites” tied in the previously mentioned color combinations.
Chum/dog salmon (O. keta), a lodge favorite, will begin to arrive several weeks after the king salmon (depending on geographical location). They are much more accessible than the kings and don’t necessarily hold in the deep water that kings seem to prefer. Anatomically speaking, chums are the anomaly of the Pacific salmon. The bizarre combination of its calico coloration and nightmarish toothy grin (which increases drastically with time as the fish remains in fresh water) makes this fish an exotic thrill indeed. Next to silvers, chums are one of the most aggressive of the Pacific salmon. Their good size (6 to 12 pounds), impressive fighting ability, and almost-obnoxious abundance make them a worthy game fish.
Pink/humpy salmon (O. gorbuscha), the smallest of Alaska’s Pacific salmon (2 to 5 pounds), run only every other year (1998, 2000, 2002, etc.). On odd years they will not be present in great numbers in the Alaskan fishery. Pinks will usually arrive from the last week in July to the first weeks in August. Being the most prolific of the Pacific salmon, pinks can be found in great numbers as they move upriver to spawn. Like their chum cousins, pinks will strike at almost anything. Sea-fresh pinks are exciting to catch on trout-sized tackle.
Northern pike (Esox lucius ) are an exciting bonus in the early part of the Alaskan angling season. An extremely prolific game fish, northerns will be found throughout Alaska in almost any small pond or lake and in many of the larger rivers. They are voracious feeders and make a valuable addition to the daily bag when the other fish are not biting. Northerns move into the shallows shortly after ice out to look for a suitable place to spawn and forage. These are normally structure-oriented fish and are found along weed beds, grass lines, and channel drop offs. Flies are cast (normally on a floating line) as close to this structure as possible, then slowly stripped back to the boat.
Northern pike respond to a variety of topwater and subsurface flies. Many anglers prefer to fish surface patterns as the strike is often visual and explosive. Pike are not particular about the pattern as long as it looks like something to fill their insatiable appetites. A few popular topwater patterns include the Dahlburg series ( Umpqua’s Super Swimmer, Swimming Water Dog and Megadiver). Streamers: Lefty’s Deceiver (red/white, olive/white, chartreuse/white, yellow/red), Zonker (same colors), Chico’s Seaducer (white/red, yellow/red) and Chico’s Bend Back (same colors). All flies should be tied “weedless” on size 1/0-3/0 hooks. A short 20-30 pound wire leader is essential to keep fish from cutting the leader with their sharp teeth.
Mid-season angling (early-July through early-August) can be said to start when water levels begin to recede and water temperatures begin to increase. When the water levels start to come down, dry fly fishing opportunities for rainbows and grayling become increasingly frequent. Many of the traditional dry fly patterns work very well. Popular patterns include Adams, Adams Irresistible, Humpy, Black Gnat, Elk Hair Caddis, March Brown, Light Cahill, Goddard Caddis, and the Quill Gordon. Fly size depends upon water conditions and “discrimination level” of the fish. In some areas the fish tend to be finicky about which dry flies they’ll take. More realistic patterns, such as Comparadun, No-Hackle and parachute-style variations of the previously mentioned traditional flies, will fool the more selective fish. Very small midge imitators, such as the Griffith Gnat, work well when rainbows and grayling are feeding heavily on small midges. Although most Alaskan rainbows are not leader shy, we recommend using a tapered leader of 9 feet or more. Longer leaders aid in delicate presentation and help alleviate current drag on the fly.
Sockeye/red salmon (O. nerka) will usually enter fresh water around the first week in July and often remain in a river system for several weeks before they begin to take on their spawning colors. From an angler’s point of view, sockeyes have earned the reputation of being the most finicky and unpredictable of all the Pacific salmon (a sort of Arctic permit, if you will). Aside from this minor obstacle, sea-fresh sockeyes are arguably one of the feistiest fish to be taken in Alaska. It is well worth the effort to spend a little time with them.
Unlike their cousins, sockeye feed almost exclusively on krill, or zooplankton, the small shrimp-like crustaceans which fill the icy waters of the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea. Many veteran anglers feel as though the traditional salmon flies used on the other Pacific species represent a visual stimulus, which is not present in the adult life of the sockeyes. This is one of many speculations why sockeyes usually don’t strike like other Pacific salmon. Although it may be sheer coincidence, the most productive flies for sockeyes (i.e., small Comets or Gray Nymph) tend to closely imitate the natural forage of the ocean-going adult fish.
Over time, several new fishing methods for sockeyes have been developed which utilize nontraditional salmon flies and nontraditional techniques. Nymphing for sockeyes is beginning to gain popularity. For some reason, reds will take certain dead drifted nymph patterns quite readily when they are properly presented. The technique is almost exactly the same as nymphing for trout except the angler should usually allow the fly line to be caught up in the current after the dead drift is finished. This causes the fly to suddenly speed up, which will often induce the fish’s strike response. By varying the way you mend your line, you can cause the fly to swing directly in front of holding fish. Sometimes sockeyes prefer the nymph to be dead drifted and sometimes they prefer the fly to swing. The key to successful sockeye fishing is to find an area where water speeds and holding conditions will put the fish into a striking mood. If a pod of sockeyes is not taking in a certain area of the river, it is best to move on and try new groups of fish until strikes start occurring. Perseverance is the key to success!
The water levels you’re likely to encounter while fishing for sockeyes will allow you to use a floating line or the lightest sink tip; 6 and 7 weight fly rods are recommended. As previously stated, the best patterns for sockeyes seem to be small and sparsely-tied: Comet (lime green, gold, silver, and red); Grey Nymph (10 and smaller); Sockeye Orange; Sockeye Green. Small Hare’s Ear nymphs, A.P. Nymph in black or grey (size 10) and small black and red Wooly Worms, Polar Shrimp, trout-sized Bunny Leeches (white especially) and various sparsely-tied steelhead patterns will produce at times.
Fishing from Mid-Summer to Fall — As the salmon enter the rivers and begin laying their eggs, the other game fish tend to concentrate in the salmon ‘redds’ to take advantage of the nutritious and abundant supply of salmon eggs. Already in the river systems, rainbow trout and grayling begin moving in on the salmon nests as soon as the first eggs are dropped. Dolly varden also coincide their arrival into fresh water with the salmon spawning. The taxonomic distinction between arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) and dolly varden (Salvelinus malma) is so discreet that only experienced fishery biologists can actually tell them apart when they both exist in the same ecosystem. As a general rule, many outfitters consider “dollies” to be sea-run fish, while Arctic char are a landlocked subspecies (this distinction depends upon who you ask). Even before the salmon actually start to spawn, many char and dollies will move into the streams and begin feeding on sculpins (a small baitfish) and aquatic insect larvae. Just before the salmon drop their eggs, these char will readily attack a variety of streamers and wet flies. When the salmon start to spawn, the char and dollies can be taken right alongside the rainbows and grayling as they jockey for the best feeding lanes.
Trout, grayling, char and dolly varden often get so frenzied about salmon eggs that they ignore all patterns except those closely imitating individual salmon eggs. Fishing egg patterns is exactly the same as nymph fishing, except the angler must make sure to never allow the egg to “swing” in front of the salmon. For some reason, the salmon will strike out at an egg that swings but will usually ignore a dead-drifting pattern. Glow bugs (assorted colors depending on light, turbidity, and spawning progress of salmon), Illiamna Pinkies, and small craft beads (where legal) are the top patterns during this period. Patterns such as Polar Shrimp and the Babine Special can be fished both dead drift and then as a streamer as the fly swings out of its dead drift. Char and dolly varden seem especially aggressive to these patterns and swinging egg-type wet flies is an effective way to cover a large amount of water. Unfortunately, this technique tends to pick up more of the spawning salmon than dead-drifting egg patterns.
Silver/coho salmon (O. kisutch) begin moving into fresh water as early as the first week in August. The combination of their highly aggressive nature and a maniacal fighting ability make them a very popular target for many anglers. Silvers respond to the same “swing” techniques already discussed. As they tend to reside in relatively shallow/calm water as they work upstream, these salmon can often be fished on a full-floating fly line with moderately-weighted wet flies (sink tip lines are also often used). Popular patterns all seem to have a touch of fuchsia or purple (or a combination of both) though a weighted fuchsia Bunny tied on a size #2-#1/0 hook is hard to beat. Other popular patterns include Popsicle, Chinook Special, Teeny Nymphs (white, orange, fuchsia, and natural), Karluk Flash Fly, Comet, Wiggle Tail, Coho Streamer, Wooly Buggers/Egg Sucking Leech (fuchsia, white, and black), and standard bi-colored “Bucktails.”
We recommend that anglers de-barb all hooks and replace all treble hooks with single hooks.
Early-season (June) spin fishing for lake trout and arctic char is extremely productive in lake conditions. Spin/casting anglers will be able to reach fish holding in deep water with relative ease. The standard technique is to cast out a fairly heavy spoon/jig and allow it to sink deep before slowly retrieving it. Lake trout and char are in open water and therefore spin fishermen can use ultra-light gear with 4- to 6-pound line. Deep water jigging and trolling is also effective. As the water warms up, the char and lake trout will often move into very deep water to feed. These fish can be reached by slowly trolling or stationary jigging heavy spoons and jigs. Recommended lures include 1/2-3/4 oz Kastmaster spoons (silver and gold), 3/4 oz Krocodile spoons (silver, gold, and prism variations), 3/4 oz Little Cleo spoons (silver), Dardevle spoons (silver and gold) or any other similar jigging type spoon. Jigs (marabou, bucktail, and plastic) in similar colors and weights are also extremely productive.
Rainbow trout, char, dolly varden and grayling residing in river conditions can be taken on a variety of spoons, spinners and jigs. These lures are typically “swung” downstream at a 45-degree angle. By varying the upstream angle of the cast, the weight of the lure, and the rate of retrieve, spin/casting anglers can easily control the depth of lure. Colors should be varied depending on season and water color, but the following illustrates a few of the more popular lure types. Spoons: Pixie, Dardevle, Krocodile, Kastmaster, and Little Cleo. Spinners: Vibrax, Roostertail, Mepps, and Panther Martin. Jigs: Both marabou, bucktail and plastic twister-type jigs imitate a myriad of trout fodder. Red/white, yellow/red, all black, all white, brown, orange and olive are productive colors. Bring several weights (1/8-1/4 oz) of all colors depending on what type of water you’ll be fishing.
Pike can be readily taken on spin/casting gear.The following is a sample of some of the more popular lures. Topwater: Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow (5/8 oz), Heddon Torpedo (2 3/8 in, 3/8 oz) Heddon Zara Spook (4 1/2 in, 3/4 oz). Minnow/“Jerk” Baits: Bomber Long A (6 in, jointed, 1oz), Rapala, Magnum (7 in, 1 1/2 oz). Spoons: Johnson Weedless models, Dardevle, Red Eye, and other similar models. Spinners: Mepps #5, Super X, Big Slim. Productive colors include a combination of red, white, yellow and silver.
Spin fishing for salmon can have its definite advantages over fly fishing in certain angling conditions. Not only can the spin fisherman cover a greater expanse of water, but he/she can reach salmon holding far beyond the reach of the fly angler. There are many techniques employed by the spin fisherman which utilize both shore and boat fishing. Back trolling , for example, is used to cover any expansive area of water where fish may be holding. The angler simply drops his/her lure back behind the boat while the guide slowly backs the boat downriver at a rate slightly slower than the actual current speed. This method is particularly successful because the boat action forces the lure down to the fish in a very aggravating manner. Either the fish must get out of the way or strike out at the lure. Lures used for this technique include large, Kwikfish, Wiggle Warts, J-Plugs, Hot Shots, Bombers and T-Spoons. Productive colors are hot orange, fuchsia, chartreuse, gold, silver, green/silver, and blue/silver. Lure color should be varied until strikes occur.
Fishing from shore can often be as productive, and at times more productive, as fishing from a boat. During high water the fish will move upriver along the shoreline because this is the path of least resistance. Although the previously mentioned crank baits will work while fishing from shore, they have a tendency to foul often as they are designed to dive deep at an angle directly contrary to that of the upsloping bank angle. Because of this, spoons and spinners are much more productive as depth control is easily manipulated. T-Spoons, Mepps (with or without Bucktails), Vibrax (silver, gold, and fluorescent bodies), Dardevle spoons (red/white, gold, silver, chartreuse, orange, and red) and Pixie spoons (all colors) are all quite productive. Lure size should again depend upon turbidity, water level, and species preference.
MEDICATION — Long-distance travelers should pack a kit for such common complaints as diarrhea, upset stomach, motion sickness, headache, irregularity, and small cuts, etc. Include any prescription medicines you normally require. Our guides are well prepared to handle emergency medical situations.
LICENSES — An Alaskan fishing license is required. We have them available for purchase at the lodge/camp. (At the time of publication, a 7-day nonresident sportfishing license is $30.)
GRATUITIES — T he staff and guides are tipped a lump sum that is distributed equally by the manager. We recommend approximately 10-15 percent of the land package cost per person, depending on your perception of the service. If you have questions, we encourage you to ask the lodge manager.
LIQUOR & TOBACCO — Although we have a fully-stocked bar, you should plan to take your own alcoholic beverages. Liquor is available in Anchorage (many hotels have a liquor store in the lobby) or you may prefer to decant your supply into plastic containers at home to avoid breakage en route.
- Important Personal Items/Clothing/Miscellaneous
- Airline tickets
- Trip itinerary with contact numbers, important personal contacts and phone numbers.
- Traveler’s checks, credit cards, checkbook — it is wise to carry as few credit cards or personal blank checks with you as possible. Take only those you know you will need.
- Shoes — comfortable waterproof boots (muddy conditions can exist around camp). We recommend wearing rubber-soled boots on the days you fly to/from the lodge to accommodate the notoriously muddy parking lots in Dillingham and to comfortably negotiate getting aboard the boats and float planes.
- Slacks/pants — 2 or 3 pairs
- Heavy-weight wool or poly-blend socks
- Light/mid-weight long underwear tops and bottoms — at least two pairs polypropylene or capilene
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Sweater and/or pullover
- Raingear (high quality!)
- Fishing hat — bring two, one for warmer days and one with ear flaps
- Neoprene or knitted wool fingerless fishing gloves
- Wading boots — felt-soled but no cleats! (comfort and ankle support key considerations)
- Waders — breathable stocking-foot models
- Waterproof gear bag
- Insect repellentBenadryl or calamine lotion
- Small first-aid kit
- Camera — waterproof bag, camera body/lens/film, polarizing filter, lens tissue and cleaner, flash attachment; start with fresh batteries and take an extra set.
- Flashlight (if traveling in September)
- Extra line (8-10-pound for trout, char and grayling; 10-15-pound for all salmon species other than kings, which require 20-pound)
- Extra rods and reels
- Polarized sunglasses — 2 pairs with amber lenses (avoid green), indispensable for seeing fish
- Clippers for cutting monofilament
- Hook sharpener
- Reel lubricant — apply to reels each evening
- Pocketknife/needlenose pliers; we recommend a Leatherman tool
- Scale — We’ve tried them all, and highly recommend the IGFA-endorsed “Boga Grip” scale.
- Tape measure
- Small towel
- Zip-loc bags — watertight storage for smaller items
- Tackle box and lures — remember weight restriction, so please don’t take a tackle box the size of a foot locker
For Fly Fishermen Only
Rods and reels — A stiff/fast action, 9-foot, 5- or 6-weight rod matched with a fly reel capable of holding at least 150 yards of backing for trout, grayling and char. For salmon, a 9-foot, 7- or 8-weight rod matched with a reel holding at least 200-yards of backing. “King” fishermen should bring a 9-foot, 9-weight rod matched with a reel holding at least 250 yards of backing
Fly lines — Weight-forward full floating lines are recommended for trout, char, and grayling fishing. Should you wish to buy sink-tip lines prior to your trip, make sure to consult us for water condition specifics.
Flies — We recommend that you buy flies at camp if possible.
Leader material — Leaders and tippet should be purchased at the lodge
Reel covers — reels can get banged up in transport
Fly-tying equipment — We have a fully equipped tying bench available.
Split shot or lead putty
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