The point is that there is no one place that is better than all the rest, because each operation is unique and specialises in different things. The easiest way to explain Alaska is in three basic seasonal options, in terms of species of fish and three different accommodation options, in terms of experience and price. With one or two exceptions one can mix and match for a combination of the options. Here is our brief summary:
Three Basic Seasons
1. Early Season
Late June/Early July
This is the time we recommend for those wishing to catch king salmon. If you do not mind catching them on spinning tackle (you will catch a lot more that way), then late June is when the fish are freshest but the water higher. If you are more focused on fly, it is better to go first or second week in July when the fish are more accessible in shallower water. There is also some good chum salmon fishing with lighter tackle.
This is a great time for a first trip to Alaska, because there is maximum species mix and the best shot at good weather. It is possible to catch late king salmon, chum salmon, sockeye salmon, early silver salmon, rainbow trout, dolly varden, grayling and arctic char. We often recommend this time for fishermen who are not species focused and/or thinking of a family orientated trip.
3. Late Season
This is the time we have all seen featured on television when the sockeye salmon are red, the bear are at their most active and greedy, and the autumn colours their finest. It is also prime silver salmon time (often likened to our Atlantic salmon for their free-taking and athleticism) and for rainbows, which are at their fittest and fattest having gorged on salmon roe and flesh.
Three Types of Lodges
1. Float Trip
This is the wildest form of fishing and accommodation in Alaska. One is able to fish 24 hours a day. A float plane drops a fishing party at a point where a team of camp staff await. Each day one floats and fishes down the river, whilst some go ahead to prepare camp. One sees a vast amount of water and wildlife. This option is a great wilderness experience, but the downside is the lack of comfort particularly when the weather is inclement and also one only sees a single river system.
Best and most experienced float trip operators include Dave Duncan & Sons, Bus Bergman.
Price Guide for Land package (7 nights 6 full days of guided fishing food and accommodation) only US$3,000 – $3,500
2. Fixed Camp or Lodge
This option is well priced too and certainly more comfortable. One flies into a remote location and fishes the river on which the camp or lodge is situated using jet boats to access various beats. These camps are very good at pinpointing a run and therefore focusing on particular species. Some offer the option to buy fly-outs by the day. The downside is that one only sees one system or area, and one could possibly see people from a nearby lodge at one or two locations.
The best of the fixed camp/lodge options include Goodnews River Lodge, Togiak River Adventures, Branch River Lodge, Angler’s Alibi.
Price Guide for Land package only US$2,895 - $3,895.
3. Fly-out Lodge
This is the most expensive way to fish Alaska but, if one can spend the money, usually the most comfortable. One flies into the lodge at the beginning of the week and then makes daily fly-outs to different rivers to fish for various species. Many fly-out lodges also have wilderness camps for guests to enjoy a night of camping for some Alaskan adventure. The downsides might include the cost, the possibility of weather deterring flying and a structured daily fishing programme.
Amongst the finest fly-out lodges are Bristol Bay Lodge, Mission Lodge, Fishing Unlimited, Tikchik Lodge and NoSeeUm Lodge.
Price Guide for Land package only US$4,500 - $5,500
The Inevitable Exception
These are amongst the world’s finest and strongest freshwater strain of fish, certainly the strongest trout we know of with fish over 10 lbs taken with some regularity. They are good all season long and can be fished for from most lodges, but the fishing is best from those that specialise. The rainbows are in their prime from August, when they have fed on salmon eggs and flesh, but by then the fishing is egg pattern nymphing for the most part. If you are interested in rainbows we recommend a specialist lodge, but if you have to do it all in one year we recommend a mixed species lodge with a half week at a specialist rainbow lodge.
The best rainbow lodges include Enchanted Lake Lodge, Iliaska Lodge and Kulik Lodge (all flyout lodges).
Price Guide for land package only US$2,150 (for _ week non-flyout) to $5,500
For more information contact Will Bond, Frontiers International Ltd, 18 Albemarle Street, London W1X 3HA or email firstname.lastname@example.org or look at the website www.frontierstrvl.com