We’ve organized two groups of fly fishermen on the Kanektok River this past August and word from the river was that fishing was phenomenal. Reading post-trip reports from our clients, like the one to follow from Thatcher, is the best part of our job at Expedition Broker!
“I recently returned from a wonderful, amazing trip on the Kanektok River. It’s on the Southwest Alaska Peninsula and flows into Kuskokwim Bay. It is north of the Aleutian chain if you look at the map of Alaska. It was arguably the best fishing trip of my life.
I began with a one day trip from Spokane to Bethel, AK via Alaska Airlines. I stayed overnight in Bethel, and the next morning boarded a float plane that flew us to the Kanektok headwaters at Pegati Lake in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge. Our group consisted of five anglers (a family group of a grandfather, two adult sons, a 12 y/o grandson, and myself), plus three guides rowing 16 ft. rafts.
We traveled about 100 miles, spent 7 days and 6 nights on the river. Some fishing was done from the rafts as we floated downstream, while at other spots we would stop and wade to fish promising water. Camp consisted of a large cook/dining tent, a bathroom tent and 3 roomy sleeping tents. Each comfortably held two cots with sleeping pads. As a solo guest, I had my tent all to myself. On the third and sixth nights we had warm showers in the bathroom tent, which was a welcome and much appreciated way to clean up. Meals were over the top – steaks, halibut, lasagne, fried chicken in the evenings, bacon, eggs, pancakes for breakfast. On the last morning we even had eggs Benedict! For lunches we made sandwiches stream side.
Where it flows out of Pegati Lake, the Kanektok is crystal clear and fairly small, probably no more than 50 ft. wide. It got gradually larger as it was joined by tributaries downstream. We had sunny/partially sunny weather for the first three days. On the fourth day the weather turned, with gale force winds and heavy driving rain. The guides had to work hard to keep from being blown back upstream on the river! Despite the weather we continued to fish, with surprising success. For the last two days the wind was gone, and we had intermittent drizzle with periods of sunshine, as well. Even though we were wet on the outside, with good gear we were warm and dry on the inside.
We saw three brown bears close up, as well as mergansers, bald eagles, ravens, harlequin ducks and arctic terns. We saw tracks and trails of moose and caribou on the sand bars, but none of those critters on the hoof.
And the fishing? Even though awesome is an over-used term, I’d describe it as beyond awesome. Phenomenal. Unbelievable. For the first three days we found pods of spawning sockeye salmon (easy to spot because of their red color), and would cast a salmon egg colored egg fly or a 6 mm. peach/natural egg bead over them. Below the spawners were hordes of Dolly Varden/Arctic Char, Grayling and Rainbow trout, eagerly fighting each other to gobble up the stray eggs that floated downstream. It was rare for my fly to be in the water for more than 30 seconds before I had a fish on, and it was nonstop action all day long. On my first day I stopped counting after landing 73 fish, and I’m sure I landed over 300 during the week. They were good sized fish, too, with some of the Dollies going over 5 lbs. We also cast flesh flies (imitations of decomposing salmon flesh) to Rainbows as we floated downstream. They would rush out of their hiding places in streamside root balls and strike them with a vengeance. It was definitely a “catch fish until your arms ache” experience.
On the fourth day we began to run into silver salmon/coho in slower water in sloughs or on outside bends of the river. They were in their red spawning colors when we first encountered them, and became more and more silvery as we moved downstream closer to the ocean. On the last day some of the chrome bright fish still had sea lice on them. We would cast either a purple egg sucking leech or flashy pink/purple starlight leech, and the more aggressive fish eagerly attacked them. Several times our group had triple and quadruple hookups. I landed at least 30 silvers over the last three days, and hooked/lost probably a dozen more.
The guides had a lot of experience on the river. The twin brothers had fished the Kanektok for 25 years, while the third guide was in his 11th year on the river. They were knowledgeable about the fish, wildlife and plant life, and were excellent fish finders, mentors and coaches. I really enjoyed my time with them, and thank Beyond Boundaries Outfitters for putting together such an outstanding trip. Even though this was a “trip of a lifetime”, I look forward to doing it again in the near future.” ~Thatcher – Chattaroy, WA
Thanks to Thatcher for the incredible report. 2017 Bristol Bay fly fishing float trips are already filling up quickly so let us know if a fly fishing “trip of a lifetime” interests you!