Our trips start with you arriving into King Salmon on Monday morning and departing Friday evening for 5 days of fishing and 4 nights total. The season for us starts as early as June 7 and runs through mid-August.
June 7 – 25
This early season time period is ideal for targeting big rainbows, which frequently reach sizes of up to 15 pounds and can be up to 34 inches in length! We fish the Naknek River and Naknek Lake for these fish, along with other fresh water species such as char, lake trout and northern pike. We can offer you the option of backcountry camping trips into Naknek Lake, which lies within the heart of Katmai National Park. This is a trip that we specialize in and no one else offers. The solitude and beauty of this wilderness area will leave a lasting impression. It is not uncommon to spend your entire time there without seeing any other people. It is off the beaten path and a completely pristine region. We access the area by boat and generally camp 2 or 3 nights. After some great nights camping and days of fishing, we like to finish the trip off with a stop by world famous Brooks Camp to view Brown Bears and other wildlife. This is always a highlight of people’s trip. We are also able to catch some early season king salmon and red salmon after about the 15th of June, in the Naknek River, which is high on most everyone’s list of things to do.
June 26 - July 15
This mid-season is the peak of the Bristol Bay red salmon run. This is what the area is most famous for. By July 4, millions of salmon will have entered the bay. By mid-July we will have had over a million, sometimes 2 million red salmon swim right by our boat dock on the river. This is a miracle of nature that has no comparison. Fishing for these red salmon is done primarily with fly rods and is easy to learn, even if you have never fly fished before. The best fishing grounds are only a 10 minute boat ride from our camp, and often times you can catch your limit right off our dock! Catching a fresh sea run red salmon on an 8 weight fly rod is one of the best fights you will ever have fishing! Most of these reds (also known as sockeye salmon) weigh 4 – 12 pounds, 8 pounds being average. They are truly a phenomenal sport fish and make for great eating!
In addition to the red salmon, this is the time period when king salmon start coming into the Naknek River in large numbers. This fishing is primarily done by trolling in tidal river waters closer to the coast. We “hunt” kings, searching for schools of fish or a random bite, which usually occurs on the tide change. Patience is key. Nothing can compare to the power of a fresh sea run king on your line! This is the fish that made our area famous for sport fishing, and is one of the great game fish of Alaska! Kings range in size from only a few pounds all the way up to 50 pounds, though 20 to 30 pounds is average on our river. Kings are delicious to eat and are probably the tastiest of all salmon species.
We also have the option of chartering a plane to fly 30 minutes to the north, to Ekwok, where we fish king salmon and chum salmon on the Nushagak River. The Nushagak offers fantastic fishing and is a great compliment to the Naknek. This is just one of the many ways we can customize your trip.
Our guests can also choose to camp or do a day trip to Naknek Lake during this time period to get away from everything and target big rainbows, which spend the summer feeding in the waters of the Lake. This can be a nice addition to your salmon fishing trip, not to mention some sightseeing and wildlife viewing that is second to none. Nearly all of our guests choose to visit Brooks Camp for a day. We can reach this destination either by boat or float plane. At this time of year it is normal to see up to 15 or more adult bears per day at Brooks Falls, feeding on salmon returning home to spawn. We can access destinations including Brooks that offer THE BEST Brown Bear viewing in the world!
July 16 – July 31
By this time, the red salmon run has slowed and comes to an end. We follow the fish up the river and into Naknek Lake, to their spawning areas where we are able to catch them. King Salmon continue coming into the river through the end of the season (July 31). Fishing for kings is at its very best during this time a year. In addition to king fishing, we can also do our specialize trips to Naknek Lake, where the trophy rainbow trout fishing is at its best. Brooks Camp still offers unmatched bear viewing at this time of year, and there is even excellent bear viewing right on the Naknek River.
It is during this part of the summer that some of our guests choose to fly out to some of the smaller tributary streams of the region. These streams contain the countless red salmon that earlier in the summer swam up the Naknek River, right past our dock. Here they will spawn and finish their life cycle. There is excellent fishing for grayling, dolly varden and leopard rainbows in these small streams, with both dry and wet flies and spin tackle. Fishing in these extremely remote locations takes some effort to get to but is worth it! You experience real Alaska wilderness, away from the crowd, in a true backcountry setting.
August 1 – 15
August brings silver salmon into the Naknek River. This is one of the most exciting of the salmon species to catch. There is a lot of action and with some practice it is easy to learn. Silvers are range from 8 – 14 lbs and are extremely strong fighters. Fishing method is primarily spin casting. Nothing can match freshly caught silver in terms of excitement and aerobatics!
August also brings huge numbers of pink salmon into the river (even number years only). These are the easiest salmon to catch and will hit almost anything! This is a great fish for kids to practice on and learn how to fish. Like silvers, we fish for pink salmon with spin tackle. Most pink salmon range in size from 4 – 8 lbs. Depending on run strength, you can catch them till your arms get sore and they are a lot of fun!
In addition to pink salmon, there are also plenty of chum salmon at this time of year, which range in size from 8 – 16 pounds. Again, we catch these with spin tackle primarily. Chum fight extremely hard, and never give up, much like kings. It is absolutely a great time of year to get a mix bag of salmon and the very best time of year for silvers! There are plenty of bears at Brooks Camp and other destinations in Katmai Park which offer great viewing, by now feeding on spawning red salmon, as well as plenty of bears on the river to see on a daily basis.