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Fishing the Nushagak River - Fishing Overview & Top Rated Fishing Camps & Float Trips

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The Nushagak River is a King Salmon fisherman's dream. It stretches for 280 miles from its source in the Alaskan Range to its mouth in Nushagak Bay. The river is a significant part of the Bristol Bay Watershed and offers perhaps the best place in the world to fish for Trophy Sized King Salmon.

Visiting the area is not a light undertaking. The River is accessible only by floatplane, and the major infrastructure in the more populated areas is nonexistent. However, the area is beyond beautiful, wild, rugged, and one of the best places in the world to fish for King Salmon.

Along the River, the only amenities you find are in the few fishing lodges and fishing camps. The area is the west side of Bristol Bay with a single town - Dillingham. Wood-Tikchik State Park is near the area, and there are camping and fishing opportunities there. Dillingham has a resident population of just under 2400 people. You will find basic amenities, such as a few restaurants, a few markets-grocery stores, and a few hotels and inns. The primary lodging for fishing is the fishing camps, which offer hard-wall tends on carpeted platforms; generally, chef-prepared meals, hot showers, and socialization.

You can find outdoor activities in the Dillingham and Wood-Tikchik State Park, including camping, hiking, kayaking, wildlife viewing, and snow machining in winter. The area is wild and unspoiled, so birding, botany, and wildlife are the fundamental interests beyond fishing.

Aerial View of the Nushagak River
Aerial View of the Nushagak River

Fishing the Nushagak River

The Nushgak River is known to offer some of the best King Salmon fishing in Alaska. Many anglers flock to the Kenai River, Russian River, or Kasilof River with the hopes of topping the world-record for King Salmon. The odds are better on the Nushagak River as the return of King Salmon each season in the 100,000 fish range. The Kings here are big too…60-pound fish are not uncommon.

In addition to the King Salmon runs are the massive returns of Sockeye Salmon, which show up in the millions. There is also a run of Silver Salmon here as well as Rainbow Trout, Dolly Varden, Arctic Grayling & Northern Pike.

One of the main things that set the Nushagak River apart from other fisheries is that it is legal to use bait to target King Salmon. Kings are well known to be aggressive eaters of King Salmon Roe. That drive to succeed in reproducing is key. Kings may not strike a fly, but they will almost always hit King Salmon Roe bait. They will also strike lures, and single hook lures are permitted here too. The best combination for targeting Kings is to use both methods as the day changes. Guided fishing is the only way to fish the Nushagak River as special permits are required for much of the River. You may find some DIY fishing opportunities near the mouth of the River and in the Dillingham area. The Wood-Tikchik State Park offers recreational fishing, but it is outside of the Nushagak River. You can only catch four king salmon per year on the Nush, and the daily limit is two per day. Thankfully, there are many other fish to target in this very healthy river system. When you fish the Nushagak River, you have access to its tributaries too. The smaller creeks and rivers make it easier to target trophy fish.

The Tributary rivers such as the Mulchatna, Nuyakak, and King Salmon, offer excellent Salmon fishing and opportunities to target big Northern Pike, Chum Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Rainbow Trout, and Dolly Varden.

In such a pristine and remote location and with such incredible runs of King Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, and Silver Salmon, it is without wonder why the Nushagak River is the Salmon Fishing River of the World.

Top Rated Nushagak River Lodges, Camps & Float Trips

Frigate Adventure Travel
Frigate Adventure Travel
2 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $3,000 to $4,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $2,000 to $3,000 Per Person
Wild River Guides
Wild River Guides
6 - 7 Days: $4,000 to $5,000 Per Person
Nushagak River Adventures - Fish the Nush
Nushagak River Adventures - Fish the Nush
3 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $4,000 to $5,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $3,000 to $4,000 Per Person

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