Don Long, Bristol Bay Alaska Fly Fishing Report
June 16-23, 2018
I’ve worked the salmon runs on the Bering Sea side of Alaska on what is locally called “the peninsula” as a wilderness fly fishing guide. Endless numbers of boat rides, float plane trips and days wading across rivers that host legendary populations of fish made up my summers. I never lacked for the opportunity to hook and land all the popular species myself but as every guide knows, it’s all about getting your client on the water and getting endless hookups first, last and always. I’ve retired from guide work and had not been back to that area of the world for nearly a decade.
Outdoors International has put me on a few trips to the tropics as well as Patagonia in the past year. I was contacted by them about a trip to Bristol Bay Lodge and asked if I would be interested in jumping on board for a week prior to the salmon runs in the middle of June, 2018. I’d known for years of BBL’s reputation as the gold standard of lodges in the western hemisphere, much less Alaska. Curiosity overtook me and I was in. An entire week of great fishing was only a part of their operation. You’ll play out the roll of pampered guest that is wined and dined continuously through the week. Every dinner is a gourmet food display of astounding and abundant appetizers to entrees and desserts that will melt the resolve of the most ardent epicurean. The house staff will wait upon your daily requirements as if you had your own valet in attendance. The guides and pilots know their water and their fish as well as any crew I have worked with or experienced.
The fishing routine of the day was to be assigned to a guide or team of guides and pilots. With fluid precision, you’re led off to a boat or float plane and then made to spend the day as you hook and net a multitude of fish types. (Remember that the week I visited BBL was a week where the salmon were not in yet). Despite that timing, Rainbows, Chars, Dolly Vardens, Graylings, Lake Trout, Pike and even a couple of early Kings and Chums were landed, (or boated), by everyone staying at the lodge for that week.
My boat partner that was assigned to me as a fishing accomplice for the week had never tried fly fishing but was an avid, warm water, Texas hardcore sportsman. The guides had him handling a fly rod admirably within the first hours of the first day. He was so taken by the techniques of the fly fishing craft that he went right back to his Texas home and bought an entire fly fishing set-up with which he says he’s slaying Crappie and panfish with a vengeance. His highlight of many hook-ups during the week was a 32-inch rainbow trout that was caught on a fly rod and a streamer. That’s what any fly rod addict would call a good start to a legacy of one’s best and biggest.
I’ve hooked and landed multitudes of salmon with my clients when I was actively in the guide profession and netted hundreds for other anglers. An average to large Chum should be 8 pounds to 12 pounds or even fifteen for a bruiser of a lunker-toad on most of the western waterways of the Bristol Bay area. I was more than a bit surprised and pleased when I hooked and netted this buck of a Chum salmon that exceeded that size range. Our two veteran guides that day and me all surmised this steroid case of a Chum to be over twenty-five pounds and likely was pushing just under thirty. His head was larger than a better than average King salmon and he was pushing near forty inches from nose to tail.
Bristol Bay Lodge delivers an epic trip that specializes in delicious food, great staff, outrageous fishing and lasting friendships. They’re all welded firmly together with a jaw-dropping terrain and scenery that will make you want to come back every season for years to come.
These guys work hard to make sure you have a fantastic week.
My consultant was Patrick Kissel.
I have booked a couple trips with Patrick and been on some of his hosted trips. We always have fun together and I look forward to our next trip!
- Would you book another trip with us in the future? Yes
- Can we use your stories and/or photos on our website? Yes
- Can we use this in social media? Yes