Ask the Pro's: Fishing for Steelhead & Huge Rainbows
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Hi from France,
I would like to fish for stealhead on fly and i dont know where to go! Same question for huge rainbows on mousing fly! Many thanks for your answer
For Steelhead in Alaska, you will either want to do a April/May trip to Yakutat or a September trip to the Kenai Peninsula, to fish the Anchor, Ninilchik, Deep Creek or Kasilof rivers.
For Big Rainbows on a mouse; Aniak River, Kanektok River, Arolik, Good News and Upper Nushagak are all great fisheries for that. There are a ton of options in the Bristol Bay & Illiamna regions. Typically good mousing is June, July and slightly into August.
- MikeMike Brown - Owner of Mossy's Fly Shop in Anchorage, Alaska
My company FishHound Expeditions runs some steelhead trips that are truly incredible and very unique. This year the fish averaged low 30's (inches) with some smaller and some bigger. They weighed between 8-15 pounds with some smaller and some bigger. We had a new record set this year, a guest swung up 28 steely in one day! Each trip is limited to 6 guests per launch. Below is an outline of our trips…
I have worked with the native corporation the last few years and together we have developed a very unique trip here. Each launch is limited to 6 guests per launch. These are the only trips where guests are mixed. Though I try to pair up guests as best I can. Two nights are spent at the lodge the rest is on the river cabins, the trip outline is as follows…
Day 1. On the morning of the trip our air service picks you up at 8AM-ish and are taken to the float plane base. Here you transfer your luggage into our provided dry bags, your luggage will stay safe and secure at the float plane base. You fly out at 9AM and arrive at the lodge and Karluk Lake at roughly 10. Here we get you into your cabins and acclimated to the lodge. We then hop on the landing craft and are taken to fish 2 tributaries of Karluk Lake. These are small creeks w/ lots of sight fishing opportunities for dolly's, bows, silvers, sockeye, and we have caught a few steelhead as well. That evening we return to the lodge for awesome food and drinks. Quick side note, this lodge is one of the coolest and beautiful lodges I've seen. I know you are more into fishing than anything else as am I but, this lodge, cabins, and food are top notch.
Day 2. We take the landing craft to fish the outlet of the Karluk. Great swing water here. A 20 minute walk down river is one of the best holes and several swing runs on the upper river. 2 seasons ago we had 2 guests swing up over a dozen steely each here, the other 3 were close to double digits as well. In the evening we return to the lodge for another awesome meal and drinks.
Day 3. We take the landing craft with rafts in tow to begin our float down to the Portage cabins. It is about a 7 mile float down to the cabins. The upper stretch of this float fishes awesome. Again complete transparency the last 2 hours above the cabin is frog water. Not much steely action but great silver action. We will fish for the pods of silvers but then move quickly between schools to get down to Portage. Portage has awesome steely fishing! The late afternoon and evening are spent here. The Portage cabins are nowhere near the lavishness of the lodge but for being in the middle of nowhere on an incredible steelhead run might as well be! There are 2 cabins, a smaller cabin for the guides and then a larger cabin for the clients. In the client cabin there is a separate kitchen/dining area with a big table and chairs and a couch. There is a separate shared bunk room for clients. The cabins have a generator, heat, and an outhouse all surrounded by an electrified bear fence.
Day 4. We float and fish down to the lower cabin camp. This section can produce high numbers of steely and other species as well. This section is typically awesome! Great swing runs and good action drifting down as well. We stay at the lower camp for 2 nights.
Day 5. The camp is built on an amazing run! I stuck 10 here this year and my new guide Laura whom I taught how to spey cast caught 3 behind me, 1 which was about 37"! In addition to the run in front of the yurts there are ample wading opportunities both up and down river. The access is pretty easy traveling as the bears have created awesome trails to walk on! Just about 10 minutes up river we had a guest stick one skating a surface fly! And miss 2 more on top water. This camp is on one of the most scenic and productive sections of the Karluk, we built a big porch here to enjoy the view and the fishing!
Day 6. We float and fish our way down to the lagoon. Again, great water here for both swinging and from the boat. We are picked up in the Karluk Lagoon at 4 so, a pretty full day of fishing on both the front end and back end of the trip. We arrive in Kodiak City around 5-ish. Guests transfer their gear from our dry bags into your luggage. Most guests stay the night again in Kodiak before flying back to the lower 48 the following day.
Most of the steelhead are in the high 20's to low 30's but chromed out and hopped up on salt water as the whole river is 24 miles long. On a typical trip though we will see multiple fish in the upper 30 inch range around 10-17 pounds. The coolest attribute of the Karluk isn't size but numbers and solitude. Again, complete transparency we will occasionally see locals from the village that like to fish and we did see 1 renegade group this last year that poached but 4 people in 6 days is pretty limited pressure.
This trip allows for a ton of time spent on the water. The lodge is super cool and comfortable, however, the main goal of this trip is fishing for steely. The on river accommodations though "rustic" are far beyond any tent camp. Having the ability each night to come to a warm dry place in the middle of nowhere and not a soggy tent is truly one of a kind. The price does not include airfare to or from the lower 48 to Kodiak City, hotels, gratuities or fishing license. It does include all bush flights, flies, fishing gear, and tackle.
We do have the ability to modify this outline slightly. The layover day at one of the cabins is done either at the portage location or the lower cabin. We layover where the fishing is the best. Also, weather on Kodiak can be unpredictable at best. I have been stuck in Kodiak more than anywhere else in Alaska. One needs to be prepared to be either held up getting out or stuck on the tail end. We come prepared for this and have dealt with it many times. Please feel free to give me a call and we can talk in more detail about these incredible and unique trips.
Thank you for your time and please feel free to reach out with any additional thoughts or questions.
Cheers - AdamAdam Cuthriell - Part owner of FishHound Expeditions. His wife Kathryn Cuthriell and business partner Dave "Reps" Repta make up the rest of the company as well as their dogs Hatch, Rado, and Pike. They fish, live, and guide in Alaska year-round. When not guiding on the rivers they guide ice fishing on Alaska's numerous lakes. Originally from Colorado, he began guiding at the age of 19 while receiving a degree in Outdoor Recreation Leadership. Adam is also a current state of Alaska EMT.
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