Week 1: Alagnak Lodge, Summer 2018
(7-5-18) Everyone is resting soundly tonight at the Alagnak Lodge off Bristol Bay in Alaska. I’m currently sitting here in the guide quarters tonight still trying to soak it all in. Glen, Jamie, and John have been here for a month setting up the lodge with JR. JR is the mechanic, fixer of all things, and the man that keeps this place up running. Chad, Richard, and I arrived here seven days ago along with owner/manager/housekeeper Tony, only a day or two behind Daniel and Barry, the two chefs that keep the amazing food coming day after day. The staff is finely tuned and cohesive. Wayne, the gentleman who smokes the salmon, came in on Tuesday’s plane. Yesterday was Independence Day! There is no other place on Earth to feel more free and independent than right here at our remote wilderness lodge, home to world-class salmon fishing in Alaska.
Breathtaking Natural Beauty
The moose that frequents the cut just upriver, as well as a few others, have been spotted this week. Bald eagles of enormous size fly along the river, roosting in the trees and on the stumps on the river banks of the river. A fox was walking the cliff edge five minutes ago. The mother and last year’s brown bear cub were seen at the water’s edge as our newest guest arrived by float plane. The tundra has suddenly sprung to life. Even the resident porcupine made a bold appearance this afternoon. The clouds are rolling back in after two glorious days of t-shirt and baggies weather. It’s difficult to express the beauty of a place such as this paradise with mere words. One doesn’t even know where to start. It’s a sensory overload. The enormity of it is overwhelming and humbling.
First Guests of the Year
Jamie and John have been busy guiding the lodge’s first guests of the year, Hans and Georg from Austria. While the fishing has been tough all week as the king salmon run is yet to come, they have consistently managed to catch at least one-to-two king salmon a day. Rainbow trout have rounded out the slow times awaiting the arrival of the run as well. It’s interesting when you call an 18-inch rainbow “small.” Jamie also guided Georg to the first client-caught King Salmon of the season! There’s something magnificent about salmon fishing in Alaska!
We also had two other guests, Micah and Larry. Micah is an interesting man. His goal is to see every national park in the United States. Alaska was his 50th state. He has now been to 83 percent of all national parks in the U.S. John and I had the honor of taking him and his friend Larry to the Alagnak Wild and Scenic River Park. They weren’t disappointed with the ride. They have enjoyed many sightseeing tours while at Alagnak Lodge. Tuesday, they flew out and are headed for Denali.
Sockeye Salmon Have Arrived
Chad, Richard, and I have spent every waking hour learning the waters and the fishery. Today the sockeye salmon showed up. As the first lodge on the river, this morning we all awoke and walked down the 48 steps to the dock and found that the first surge of sockeye had entered the river on this morning’s tidal change. Glen, Chad, and I landed five sockeyes from the dock on-fly before we even got in our boats. Wave after wave of sockeye passed by us in the clear water and we took full advantage. Once getting out onto the river in our boats, almost everyone got their limits of sockeye. On Tuesday, Chad, John, and I got our boots in the water on the ground and waded for salmon. We also found great spots to fish for the sockeye from our boats as well, as did everyone here. Salmon fishing in Alaska has begun. Fish were caught by all.
Salmon Fishing in Alaska
July 4 brought back the tough fishing. The first surge of sockeye had us all excited. 10,000 came through in one day. Now there seems to be a wait for the remaining million to make their way through. It’ll be any day now. Wednesday also brought the biggest king salmon of the lodge to date this season as well as the first king salmon on-fly. The largest king salmon of the week came in on Tammy’s boat, weighing 25 pounds, while the first caught on-fly came from our latest guest Thorsten from Germany, guided by Glen. This finely tuned crew is hard at work finding the fish for our guests and learning the river better for ourselves and the guests. Any day now, the fishing is going to get crazy and we will all be prepared.