Katmai Lodge: Alaska Fly Fishing Paradise

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Posted by David S on to Fly Fishing Bristol Bay Watershed
Katmai Lodge on the banks of the Alagnak River
Katmai Lodge on the banks of the Alagnak River

The Katmai Lodge is one of the most outstanding fishing lodges that Alaska has to offer. That is a bold statement because Alaska has a lot to offer fishermen. A great lodge is comprised of its location, the fishing selection and season, comfort, opportunity, and value. The Katmai Lodge does an outstanding job of providing all of those features and more to its guest.

Fly Fishing the Alagnak Wild River within the Bristol Bay Watershed

The Katmai Lodge is located near the Katmai National Park along the shores of the Alagnak National Wild River within the Bristol Bay Watershed. This is a very special place as it welcomes both the veteran and novice fishermen, including children.

Katmai Lodge sits just 300 air miles from Anchorage and 30 miles north of King Salmon. Getting to the lodge is very easy. You can fly to King Salmon and then enjoy a private float plane to the Lodge or charter directly from Anchorage via Pen Air or Ace Airlines. Either method works.

Guests are housed in a series of out cabins and duplex style rooms. The lodge offers a variety of rooms to fit every fishing group's style of comfort. Many rooms offer separate sitting areas and some are akin to small houses. All rooms have hot showers and comfortable beds. What is common throughout the Katmai Lodge is the comfort. Guests of the lodge should expect a comfortable room with daily room service and amenities such as free Wi-Fi. Cabins all interconnect to the main lodge via a well-kept system of wooden boardwalks. Also present is the never ending view, and Alaska offers visitors a spectacular view.

The main lodge offers comfortable lounging areas and a chance to interact with other fishermen. There is a fly tying area for those who want to manufacture their own flies. Games such as darts are also available. The open "honor bar" is popular and offers nice refreshments after a long day of fishing.

Food and dining are taken care of by the lodge and the outstanding professional chef. Food is gourmet, satisfying, and plentiful. The chef and staff are happy to accommodate special diets and requests. Expect wholesome meals such as prime rib, fresh salmon, halibut, and vegetarian dishes too.

The Fish and the Alagnak River

The Alagnak River offers all of the top sports fish a fisherman could want. Here, you have access to all five species of the Pacific Salmon. In addition to Salmon, there are also Rainbow Trout, Arctic Grayling, Dolly Varden, Arctic Char, and Nothern Pike. This is not a lodge where there are just fish to be caught. This is a lodge where there are LARGE and TROPHY-sized fish to be caught. That is a distinct difference between the Katmai Lodge and many other lodges throughout Alaska. Most, if not all, lodges offer an abundance of fish, but not all can claim to offer guests the experience of fishing large and often trophy sized fish. Katmai Lodge can offer its guest the opportunity to battle large fish.

Trophy Rainbow Trout
Trophy Rainbow Trout
King Salmon

In 2015, the King Salmon hit the river in force. Fishermen had the opportunity to fish for large-sized Kings, and many were able to battle 40 plus pound fish with the average fish weighing in around 30 lbs. The best time for King Salmon fishing is from the last week of June through the month of July. It is a short 4-5 week season, but the fish show up in huge numbers and bite aggressively.

Sockeye Salmon

Looking to fish for Sockeye Salmon well you've got to the right place. The fish range from 5-10 pounds each and the annual run along this stretch of the Alagnak is in the 1.5-2 million fish range. It is not uncommon for persistent fishermen to "floss" 50-75 Sockeye per day. The best time to fish for Sockeye Salmon is from Mid-June through the end of July.

Chum Salmon
Chum Salmon
Chum Salmon

If you don't know much about Chum Salmon they are an incredibly fun fish to fly fish for. They are very agressive on the fly and amongst the best pound for pound fighters on the river. They're a great species to target for fly fishing veterans as well as beginners due to their aggressiveness and the variety of fly fishing techniques you can use to catch them. The Chum Salmon you'll catch at Katmai Lodge average around 10-12 pounds with larger ones up around 20 pounds. The nice thing about Chum Salmon is they show up in numbers. So feel free to fish them until your arm is no longer able to set the hook and reel in the line.

Silver Salmon

You'd better hold onto your rod tight when you go fly fishing for Silver Salmon. Fishing for Silvers is best throughout the month of August and sometimes into the second week of September. Silver Salmon are typically 10-15 pounds and while they are larger than the Sockeye, they are smaller than the Kings but they are the feistiest of all the Pacific Salmon, and their acrobatic antics are well known and loved by sports fishermen.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout are also plentiful so you can catch 18-24 inch Rainbows consistently with a good opportunity to battle a 30 plus inch fish. They are amazing fish to target, and they put up a good fight. These fish are active and hungry following the cold winter period and they will strike dry flies or wet flies once the ice melts. The best time for fishing Rainbow Trout is July first through the first week of August as this is their peak, Trophy fish are plentiful from June first through the end of October. Rainbows are known to swim with both the King and Sockeye Salmon.

Dolly Varden, Arctic Char & Arctic Grayling
Arctic Grayling
Artic Grayling - If you love fly fishing with dry flies Grayling are the perfect target

Dolly Varden, Arctic Char and Arctic Grayling are all a perfect target for fly fisherman. You can't go on a fly fishing trip to Alaska without targeting at least one of the following three species if not all. Dolly Varden are a cousin of both the Salmon and the Rainbow Trout. Dolly's are known to swim with the Silver Salmon. Dolly's are plentiful. Expect fish up to 18 inches and eager to fight. Arctic Char are similar to Dolly Varden in appearance and in how they are fished. The best time for both is the first two weeks of August with trophy fish opportunities into October. Arctic Char up to 18 inches with a good fight can also be expected. Arctic Grayling are a perfect fish for fly-fishing in warmer weather as they prefer to find their food on the surface of the water, making them easy to spot. They are also regarded as nice looking fish. Fully-grown Grayling only reach about 5 lbs but put up a good fight, which is why they are excellent fish for kids and novice anglers to target as well. The average length caught here is 14-16 inches. Peak time for Arctic Grayling is in July but trophy fish can be caught from the first week of June and well into September.

Northern Pike

If you have never fished for Northern Pike you should. These long, muscular fish are amazing. These fish lie still (often in weedy beds) until their prey swims by and then they strike hard and fast. This strike is often the allure of Pike fishing from many anglers and has been known to cause fishermen to drop their pole. Northern Pike are plentiful here in the 25-inch range and can easily weigh over 15 lbs as they get bigger. Expect a hard and constant battle. The best time to fish for Pike here is in August and into September.

When is the best time to go? Depends what you want to fish for.
Katmai Lodge Fishing Calendar

Fishing the Local Area and Bristol Bay

Bristol Bay is a huge watershed and Katmai Lodge does fly-out fishing to all of the best rivers and streams in the Bristol Bay area. The diversity of rivers here is amazing. You have options to fish in shallow, calm waters or wide and fast moving rivers. There is much to choose from when it comes to where you want to fish. It is a good idea to talk with the guides and to focus on two things - The fish species you want to target, and the type of fishing that you want to do.

As with all lodges, the quality of the guides make the most profound impact on each guests experience. The Katmai Lodge employs the best guides who have a lot of experience and the patience to meet guests expectations. That is just the bare minimum; these guys go beyond that to create the most amazing fishing adventures. If you want to learn about fly tying, the guides happily help by showing and teaching how to tie flies. There is a joy here for kids and adults. There is ample opportunity to sit down with your guide and plan your perfect fishing day. This attention to detail by the guides is one of the reasons that veteran fishermen and families have such an amazing adventure here. The guides do a lot. When you arrive they help to outfit you in the stock room. You need waders and boots and they help you find the perfect set of each. They help you pick a rod and reel based on your fishing expedition for the day. They also set up your rod and reel so all you have to do is cast and reel in those trophy salmon. The entire staff is geared up to help you have the best fishing adventure possible.

What Guests Experience at Katmai Lodge

Beautiful view of the Alagnak Wild River from the patio
Beautiful view of the Alagnak Wild River from the patio

The first experience is the pleasant and helpful staff. This is a lodge that makes you feel at home and is open to making your fishing trip unique and exciting. While the focus here is on fishing, there are plenty of opportunities to do more. A fly-out guided trip to Brooks Falls, inside of the Katmai National Park, is something everyone should experience. It is here that the largest population of Brown Bears come to catch the Sockeye Salmon. Katmai Lodge is a fishing lodge, but they will not target fish that are near spawning grounds. There is no reason that they should as there are plenty of fish in the river that are not spawning. The location is also part of the experience. You are sitting on the edge of the Katmai National Park. This is one of the places in Alaska where the brown bears are thick. The guided tour of Katmai is an outstanding opportunity to safely view the bears while they hunt for salmon. It would be difficult to find a better experience even with all that Alaska has to offer.

Katmai Lodge is a fishing haven. It offers outstanding service from all of the staff and the guides here are beyond amazing. There are a lot of fish to target and that fishing selection makes this a lodge a fishing paradise. If you limit out on King Salmon in the first hour, and that can happen, then your guide will set you up to limit out on trophy Rainbow Trout or show you how to floss for Sockeye. For more information on Katmai Lodge, visit their website at http://www.katmai.com or email them at info@katmai.com.

Alagnak Lodge - Extraordinary Fishing on the Alagnak River