This is the second time I’ve experienced summer solstice in Alaska and it doesn’t get any easier to sleep through 22 hours of daylight the second time around. I had an amazing trip on the Alagnak river in the Bristol Bay Region of Alaska accompanied by great friends. The Alagnak is fed by two lakes the Nonvianuk and Kukaklek and flows for about 70 miles until it feeds into the Kvichak River and then into the bountiful waters of Bristol Bay.
At times this river is chock full of salmon but we were after a different quarry, the unique leopard rainbow trout that inhabit the rivers of the area. The lodge we stayed at is in the middle of the prime rainbow trout territory about 25 minutes from the confluence that forms the Alagnak and a little over an hour’s boat ride to Nonvianuk lake.
Finding the rainbows was tough some days and on others pretty damn easy. Many lake trout, grayling and dolly varden, also found the net on the trip. These trout are hungry in the spring time and are after a big meal.
Mouse patterns were very effective at times and leeches such as the Dali Lama were the go to flies for the trip. I caught a handful of average sized rainbows on the mouse and missed many more, but the big fish seemed to prefer a leech fished deep. It is one cool experience to see a large rainbow crash a skated mouse on the surface or feel the grab on a leech pattern. The best weapon to throw these balls of hair, lead and foam were small spey and switch rods. A 6 weight 12’6” spey rod seemed like the ideal choice for many sections of the river and was well suited to the size of the fish, but a shorter rod switch rod also worked very well for others. Most everyone who was not a die hard spey angler was converted into a full blown two handed fanatic by the end of the week.
A special thanks goes out to all the guides and staff at Alaska Trophy Adventures who made the trip a memorable one. The last photo is of one of the great guides at the lodge Pete Micol who I got the pleasure to spend my last 3 days of the trip with and who taught me spey rods are not just for swinging they also make great outriggers for trolling up big lakers. When Pete is not chasing rainbows in Alaska or steelhead in Michigan he also works as santa, check him out at www.flyfishingwithpete.com