Swinging Flies for Wild Steelhead in Alaska

Patrick swinging flies for AK Steelhead

Two days of Steelhead fishing in Alaska

I showed up to the Alaska fishing lodge on Sunday evening and was quickly greeted by Matt the owner. He showed me around the new lodge and wow it is incredible! I have had the fortune of working and vacationing to many lodges in both North and South America and I will say this is the nicest lodge I have ever been to. The main lodge has a great dining area, fire places inside and on the deck which overlooks the ocean and mountains. There are multiple guest cabins on the property as well. They are very nice and comfortable with two beds and en-suite bathroom and shower.

About the time we were done catching up, and Matt showed me around a few of the guides and clients were getting back from half days of steelhead fishing. If you arrive early on day one you can choose to pay a bit extra to go for a half day of fishing. I remember all the guides from last years trip and it was great to catch up. It sounded as if everyone had already caught at least one steelhead on their first day!

Appetizers were served followed by an incredible dinner of fresh razor clam chowder, prime rib over a king crab mixture of fresh vegetables, and pumpkin spice creme brûlée. Wow it was 5 star all the way around!

The first day of wild steelhead fishing was planned for two of my guests.

This fishing trip met all my expectations for a unique fly fishing adventure.
Jon landed his first ever steelhead just before lunch and Mike had three before lunch!

 

Jon, Mike and I were to fish the following day with guide Ben. He met us at 7:45 after we filled our bellies with a hearty breakfast and coffee. We drove about 20 minutes to the river and began our float. First drift from the boat, I landed a small dolly varden then the next cast I stuck a BIG steelhead, and just then Mike hooked up with a good one too! I laughed of excitement and awe in the fact we just started the day out and already hooked two fish. Unfortunately, Mikes fish popped off after a short battle but I was able to land mine. He was a beautiful 15 pound male. My day was made.

The rest of the day we floated and fished, as well as waded from the many gravel bars. I was unable to hook up on a two handed spey rod swinging flies but did have a couple of grabs. Jon landed his first ever steelhead just before lunch and Mike had three before lunch!

After taking a break and eating, we continued our float and hooked up a few more times both Mike and Jon landed another fish. What a first day for these guys first time ever fishing in Alaska! I was happy to be a part of it and to be able to fish with them.

The next day I was able to float with Benny who is a good friend of mine and excellent steelhead guide.

I fished with Rob and Rich whom I also set this trip up for. Rob is a good angler, but Rich had never fly fished before let alone caught a wild steelhead.

We started the day and it was Rich who got the first one! Benny did a great job of teaching and calmly talking him through the fight in order to get this one to the net. It was great to see the excitement and smile on Rich’s face. This was his 3rd day ever with a fly rod and he landed himself his first wild Alaskan steelhead. The days previous he had lost a few fish so this one was earned and he was rightfully proud.

Rob broke a fish off and landed another before the fog had even lifted off the water that morning. I swung up a few rainbows and dollies, and had a grab from a steelhead but didn’t get him. At the end of the day I did manage to put to hand a chrome bright hen with sea lice all over her. She had entered the river that day.

We saw a few moose and swans on the float and didn’t get rained on too much. Overall it was another great day to be fishing in Alaska!

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Unfortunately I had to leave early.

I wanted to stay the entire week but had to catch a flight to guide some elk hunters in Colorado. So I left the next morning. The weather report was a hard rain which brought the smaller rivers up and made for a tough day. The rest of the week the rivers dropped and were fishing well as I got a few more “hero shots” from my guests. Nothing makes me happier than booking a trip for guys and seeing the photos and the excitement and appreciation for what I love. Wild steelhead are an amazing fish that takes some skill and determination to catch.

In addition I will say that Matt has put together a great team of guides and staff to host his guests in Alaska. The guides are not guys who will just point and tell you what to do to get fish, but instead are passionate instructors and damn good ones at that. They will help a seasoned fly angler learn new tricks or teach a beginner into his or her first steelhead with a fly rod. You won’t go wrong booking a trip to chase these wild steelhead in Alaska.

Give me a call or email if you want to talk more about this trip!

by Patrick Kissel

Outdoors International

 

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