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World Class King Salmon Fishing on the Nushagak River

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The Nushagak River in Southwest Alaska has one of the most prolific King Salmon runs in the state. The numbers of King Salmon that run up this river system to spawn are measured to be at over 100,000 fish almost annually, with some years capping out at a whopping 165,000 kings! This total makes the river system the strongest king salmon run in the world. The Nushagak River is one of the largest rivers that flow into Bristol Bay. From it's origins way up in the Alaska Range, it flows southwest for some 280 miles to Nushagak Bay, which then turns into Bristol Bay. Along its path, there are several tributaries and lakes that these salmon navigate to where they will spawn.

When do the King Salmon run on the Nushagak River?

The King Salmon run starts in mid June and runs through mid July. The peak tides of this run will have several thousand King Salmon passing through the tidewater section fresh from the salt, chrome bright, and very aggressive to hit both flies and lures. This river has some tides that will have more than 7,000 kings pass the sonar on one tide, surpassing some rivers total run of king salmon for the year! This huge amount of king salmon is what attracts so many anglers to this incredible fishery for some of if not the best success ratios on king salmon anywhere.

Trophy King Salmon
Trophy King Salmon caught with Angler's Alibi

Fishing the Nushagak River for Trophy King Salmon

The methods used to catch these Nushagak River King Salmon include trolling spinner baits, drifting egg patterns, and swinging flies over shallow areas and gravel bars where the kings are traveling up the river or holding for a brief period of time. The Nushagak Kings will average close to 20 pounds a piece so will provide quite a thrill not matter what method is used to harvest or release these kings.

The weather during this short season is usually pretty fair with highs in the low 70's and lows in the upper 40's. You must always pack for layering and be prepared for cold wet days with waterproof rain jackets and pants. For the fly anglers, please wear breathable waders and have a light and heavy fleece under pant to adjust to cold and warm days. A layering system with synthetic shirts or wool blends are best.

King Salmon Flies

My favorite fly patterns for these tidewater kings are patterns imitating herring and squid. The number one color we go to is by far Chartreuse or bright green. This color with blue or black and even purple is a deadly combination to kings just entering the river fresh from the ocean. We will also use pink and orange combinations imitating squid that have a solid history of crushing kings. The one thing all these patterns will have is a trailing hook since the salmon tend to bite flies a little light sometimes so a trailing hook tends to do a much better job of hooking the kings. The intruder style flies and string leech patterns are the ticket for kings.

New in 2019 - Angler's Alibi King Camp

Coming in the summer of 2019 Angler's Alibi King Camp on the Nushagak River is located only a short 20 minute flight from our main location on the Alagnak River. We plan on utilizing all the same things we do at our home base on the Alagnak River that has made us a waiting list fishing lodge with some of the highest guest return rates in the industry.

We will provide all the necessary gear no matter what method is used to catch these kings. We will be running this King Camp just like our main tent lodge on the Alagnak River. This will have the same 2 to 1 guest to guide ratio as well as a 6 guest maximum. This means incredible attention to detail and the guests individual desires to make their trip the best it possibly can. For an additional fee, we can go and fish our home waters in June or take a fly-out to target one of the many trophy trout streams in our region. With a guide staff that has over 80 years of combined Alaska Guide experience, we are sure to exceed your expectations.

There are a lot of options on the Nushagak River for the angler. Very few offer the option to swing flies and provide gear for all guests no matter what method they want to use. We will use whatever method that the guests want, and will troll spinners, drift egg patterns, and our favorite, swing flies on spey rods. We have enough rods to outfit all guests with whatever method is used.

When planning your trip to Angler's Alibi Nushagak King Camp, please know that we will run this as an all inclusive camp, just like the main tent lodge. This means that all meals, drinks, beer and wine will be provided at no extra cost. We will provide all bedding, towels, and keep the camp clean and organized. The gust tents will have a daily maid service so that you will always come home to a clean tent cabin. Remember, unlike most tent camps on the Nushagak, we will be catering to small groups of 6 or less every session, so attention to detail will be much easier than with a large group of anglers.

Contact Angler's Alibi to Book or Learn More About Your Nushagak River Fishing Trip

About the Author: John Perry

Owner: Angler's Alibi Lodge - Alaska

John Perry, originally from Michigan, began his guiding career in Colorado in the early 90's. It was here that he met fellow guide and now lodge manager/head guide TR Rafferty. TR left Colorado to guide in Bristol Bay Alaska, and came back with a summer worth of pictures and stories that that John could not imagine living. Two summers later after teaching fly fishing classes and guiding all over Colorado for trout, a guiding job opened up for John to come up and guide at a new small lodge called Angler's Alibi. It is here that John met the original owner Karl Storath. John worked for Karl through the year 2000. After life had it's changes with marriage and the need for a more year round career, John left Alaska but told Karl that he would love the opportunity to buy it when he was ready to retire. In 2007, John came back to Angler's and the change of leadership began as well. Today John is the owner of Angler's Alibi, and lives in Colorado in the off-season raising 2 boys Grey and River Perry with his wife Holly.

To learn more about Angler's Alibi Lodge visit or email John at

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