View Full Version : Alaska ?

09-13-2006, 12:34 PM
Hi Board members,

I am contemplating a trip to Alaska next year with a couple friends. We have never been. I know there is no lack of places to go with great fishing, but my friends and I are trying to keep the cost down. Is it possible to get to some quality flyfishing by flying into Anchorage or another city and renting a car or motorhome and driving to our destinations? We are very experienced flyfishers but would still probably want a guide for a day or two for the local knowlege, but the other days it would be great to be able to fish on our own if that is possible without getting trampled in a combat fishing zone. From my research so far the biggest cost of the "package" trips seems to be the flyout costs and costs for fine food and guide service at the lodges. I think this part is great , but for our first trip I could do without it. From my initial research the Kenai river seems to be the most accessible. Is this river likely to give us a good flyfishing experience or does it get too much fishing pressure? we are flexible in terms of what month we could go and would be interested in fishing for most of what swims up there, but particularly the silvers and rainbows.
If anyone has done a trip like this or has other suggestions I would sure appreciate it. If your advise is to save our pennies and go when we can do it right I need to hear that also.



Bill Kiene semi-retired
09-13-2006, 02:04 PM
The general timing for AK is June through September.

July/Aug might be better for weather.

I think you can find Silvers in late August/early September.

We have fished the Tsiu River for the past 20 years with great success in September for one of the best values in a quality wilderness lodge setting that is all inclusive. It is one of the top destinations in AK for wild fresh run Silver Salmon on a fly. It is very shallow and all sand so the fishing is spectacular. We fish on foot from the ocean upstream for several miles.

A 5 day/4 night trip from Cordova is $3,295.00.

Keith Kaneko and Bill Carnazzo at the shop just returned from there.

We will have 2 or 3 group trips there again in September 2007.

Daily fly-out lodges are $6000 to $7000 plus airfare so you can see this is one of the top values in wild remote AK lodges.


Click below for web pages on this trip.


09-13-2006, 09:53 PM
My advice is to search on the internet for local fly shops...then give them a call. I'm sure they will accomodate your questions, interest and provide you with many options, including guiding and places to fish on your own

Locals don't fish at the 'fly out lodges'. There's a lot of fishing you can do if you like a little adventure.

Good luck

09-24-2006, 12:55 AM
I finally decided to go to Alaska after tying a few flies and streamers for others who went. And looking at the photos of monster bows.

June to Sept is the better "season". I lucked out and went with an established outfitter on a float trip. My reasons were simple. I wanted a experience to enjoy and I wanted to catch big fish.

The trip I went on was affordable and definately an experience. Great food and experienced guides that knew how to fly fish. right after I booked my trip The owner sent me a complete list of everything I would need including a comprehensive list of flies and leaders , a Cd covering the trip and luggage tags,they had a plan for my sucessful fishing trip.

In looking around for a trip I found one common thread staying in a lodge you are back in time for "dinner and coctails " not that there is anything wrong with that but it is light all the time and I was fishing at 2am. I caught grayling,char,rainbow,chum and King salmon. And had a great time.
hope this helps

Chris Laskodi
09-24-2006, 02:14 PM
I just got back from Alaska last week. You can see the post here: http://kiene.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php?t=4118. We fished the Kenai peninsula and rented an RV which was really cheap. Only 75$ a day for two people (after Sept. 1 is considered off-season). The RV route to the Kenai is definitely the cheapest way to go if you want to fish Alaska.

If you don't mind the weather, September is the way to go, it has the best variety by far. I caught 6 different species of salmon/trout on this trip. The runs were late this year so we were actually there a week too early for the best rainbow fishing, which was our primary target. Generally the first two weeks of September are prime for trophy 'bows.

Another great time to go is during the King spawn which is the last week of July to the first week of August. The weather will be a lot warmer but it will still rain. The bugs will also be worse and there will be a ton of tourists and fishermen.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask.

Chris Laskodi

10-04-2006, 10:39 AM
Ditto on the August/September deal for AK. Keep in mind though all I care to fish for is Rainbows and Dollies. If you have your heart set on Salmon the upper Kenai isn't the greatest salmon fishery except for the Sockeye run which is in July and early August.

The trip is a piece of cake travel wise - fly into anchorage, home base in Cooper Landing or Soldotna, if you can fish glo-bugs and flesh flies under an indicator you're going to catch more fish than you know what to do with.

Nothing in Alaska is a true "wilderness" experience save for a few floats that aren't often done or talked about. I know a few rivers that aren't floated much and you are still going to see people on them. The simple fact is that you are going to probably see as many people on the Upper Kenai as you might expect to see on the Trinity or the Klamath or the Rogue. It's part of the US and close to a road so enough said on that. However, if you move around you're going to get holes to yourself and some good fishing if you know what you're doing.

You are right about a lot of the cost going to outfitters. I would stay away from "bargain" lodges. I've worked for one and in the flyfishing realm you really get what you pay for. If you're looking at a lodge for $2,500 a week it's probably not up to par. The best bet for that kind of money is a float trip. If you could float the Kanektok, Aniak or Mulchatna for $2,500 a week per person it would be worth it for the wilderness experience. But if your budget is closer to $1,500 then the Upper Kenai is the way to go.

One thing I would say is this trip is a serious trip. If you aren't comfortable around bears and being in a harsh climate then Alaska might not be for you. Also, you really need to have some good nymphing or streamer experience. If you feel like you can go to a major fishery like the Rogue or the Madison and do well on your own then the Upper Kenai will be easy. If on the other hand you struggle figuring things out on your own the trip could be a frustration unless you get a guide or find someone to go with you who knows the ropes. Just something to ask yourself honestly before plunking down the $$ for the trip.

For more information Mountain View in Anchorage is the best fly shop in Anchorage they can help a lot. One thing I will say is don't fish for trout with anything lighter than a 7-wt on the Upper Kenai and preferably an 8-wt. Also don't use tippet lighter than 2x unless you're fishing really clear tribs like the Russian and even then I would hesitate to fish 3x. You have a legitimate chance of hooking a 15-lb rainbow every day you fish the Upper Kenai and a fish like that will rip a 5-wt to shreds.

Have a good trip if you go the fishing can be incredible.


Lee Haskin
10-04-2006, 11:47 AM
Here are some thoughts.

I have done a lot of "road fishing" in AK, and some of it can be ok.
However, you are asking for a lot!

First let me say that I don't fish for trout with egg patterns, which means I only fish the rivers in June and the first of July, before the salmon are in the river. Also, I don't fish for salmon either.

I would save my money and do a fly-out trip, unless you can keep your expectations low and make it an adventure.

The Kenai is a "fishing factory" with hundreds of "meat packers" converging there. I would consider the Kenai just about the furtherest from a "wildnerness experience" as you can get. :?

The typical "fly fisherman" fishing for trout on the Kenai looks like this: 4 guys standing in a boat, with a guide, drifting egg patterns. There is no casting, only rod holding. Yes, they catch a lot of dollies and rainbows-big ones too! :shock:
You can find some great fishing on the Russian River, for bows, fishing egg patterns. Not too crowded, provided salmon season is closed. Lots of bears here though.

If the silvers are "in", and a road can reach the spot, there are ususally a lot of people. :( It is possible you will see more people fishing on the Kenai then you will EVER see fishing in your life!

For me the best "road fishing" is the trout fishing, in lakes, between Palmer and Nancy Lakes Rec. area. This is float tube fishing with streamers and buggers. :wink:

There are tons of streams that have grayling, and are reachable by road.
Let me know if you are interested in that.

Personally, I think the best "deal" and the best "wilderness fishing experience" is a DIY float trip.
If you can fly to King Salmon from Anchorage (I know-extra $) you can arrange to have a service fly you and a big raft to one of several rivers and you can spend 5 days drifting, camping, and fishing, on your own. Of course you would need to bring camping gear.
There are rivers like the Talachulitna where you can fly from Anchorage, and float as well.
You might be surprised at the many relatively low cost fly-out options might be available, out of Anchorage, especially with a group!
Search the net for options.

There is a good book available too. It is a guide to road fishing Alaska.
If you are interested I will try and find the book and title for you.

I'm not trying to "rain on your parade", butI have tried to give you some solid advice, and I hope it helps.


10-04-2006, 07:13 PM
I wanted to give a tactful as possible rebuttal to what Lee said.

I don't perceive he Kenai as a "fishing factory" with hundreds of "meat packers" converging there. Nor would I would consider the Kenai just about the furtherest from a "wildnerness experience" as you can get.

If you go to the Kenai in September on a mid-week away from the Russian, you would not have seen a zillion meat-packers. And if you rented a drift boat or a raft and floated the canyon, it would blow your mind. And if you had 50-fish days for dollies and rainbows like I've had, with the fish averaging 18-22", you might not mind the crowds all that much!

As far as keeping expectations low, the Kenai is one of the finest trout fisheries anywhere in Alaska. I would prefer to fish it over several bristol-bay and kuskokwim-bay rivers, hands down. Lat time I was there I fished it for 4 days, landed ~25 trout and dollies over 20" with my largest being a 28.5 inch dollie and a 25" rainbow, both as fat as can be. Now part of the reason for success on my trip is that I've spent a lot of time in alaska as a fishing guide so I knew what I was doing. But any competent angler with good streamer or indicator skills could repeat what I've done up there.

Having worked for a number of fly-out lodges and camps in Alaksa, I can say that fly-out destinations like the Aguluwok and the Nushagak are more crowded than the upper Kenai at times. The Tal in July has a lot of rafts on it, more and more every year. And paying $6000-$8000 for a week of fishing doesn't necessarily guarantee you solitude.

For the money, a road trip out of Anchorage is a very good option compared to a fly out destination. Keep you mind open and give it a shot, you'll find for yourself if it's the right trip for you. Then again...maybe I should just tell people that it is a crowded zoo. Would leave all the fish to me..hmmmm...

Best regards,


Lee Haskin
10-05-2006, 11:45 AM
Hey John,

Your comments about many of the other main rivers being a "fishing factory" are right on, and they many of these would be considered by some to be a "fly-out" situation. Especially near the ocean.
Jet airliners fly to King Salmon, Aniak, Dillingham, etc. because they are near "fishing factories", like the Kenai.
When I say fly-out, I am referring to float planes who have destinations in remote locations, with few lodges.

I believe I have accurately described the lower Kenai, which is the area most people fish from the road. The canyon is not a road access area, and a boat/raft would be needed.
Yes, as I mentioned in my post, the Russian can be great for trout and dollies, after the salmon and crowds have left. Quartz too.

Personally, I don't care how big the fish are if I have to share the river with many people. For me Alaska is more of a solitary experience, so I avoid many popular areas, and fish species, during the summer.
Each to their own.

John, thank you for your perspective-it is shared by many.


10-06-2006, 12:23 PM
Thanks Lee. Everybody is different as are their perceptions on a trip. I agree- fishing by yourself is a great expereince. And flying out or doing a float is the best way to get there.

Best Regards,


10-17-2006, 01:59 PM

I lived near Anchorage for 4 years, and have fished most of the road system you are discussing. The advice you have received above is great and pretty much right on. As a general rule, if you fish "cheap", then everyone else can afford it too, and you will fish with the crowds.

One suggestion I might add, if you are interested in silvers is Kodiak Island. I used to go there regularly in September, and depending on the rains, the fishing can be fantastic! I would recommend at least one off-road trip to Saltery Creek...the ones where you take ATV's for a beautiful 2 hour ride across the island. It is lots of fun too. i went there 3 years ago with Pillar Creek Guide Service for $200 a head, and we caught the incoming tide. There were so many silvers coming in and scooting up in 3" of water that we thought we were lassoing them, rather than fishing!!

There are not many rainbows there though. However, the Dolly VArden fishing there can be excellent on glo bugs, beads, and even nymphs.

Another suggestion for silvers and trout is to head North from Anchorage and fish the Parks Highway. Montana Creek and Willow creek have some great silver fishing, and if you are willing to hike a bit, you can find some good trout water too. these have rainbows, but you can get grayling there too!! Mid to late August is a great time for here.

check the Alaska Fish and Game website. They have old fishing reports from past years so you can see the best time to go.

Send a PM with your phone number if you'd like to talk on the phone about it.


George Riddle
12-21-2007, 12:01 PM
Ffdoc, and others thinking of coming to my State,
Most of the responses here are both correct and relative IMO. There is a fly fishing forum just for Alaska Fishing at:
http://www.alaskaflyfish.net/phpBB2/index.php?sid=dc67cbe1e9f9865b403f818fbfd5225a and we love to talk fishing. Like others, we wont divulge the super secret spots but we love to help out. Many threads on the road system, floats and out of the way fishing.

I grew up in the Bristol Bay area (King Salmon, Naknek), just moved to Wasilla after 32 years out there. Most of the fly shops in Anchorage and Wasilla are great resources for the whole state. We are also seeing a few "Lodge" type businesses setting up for Do-It-Yourself fishing.

If you wish to visit specifically about the Bristol Bay region we can talk via email. Hope this helps some and Merry Christmas to all.