How long are the trips? We will spend 6 nights and 7 days on the river. The trip starts around 9 a.m. on Wednesday or Thursday morning, and we get picked up around noon on Tuesday or
Wednesday. Keep in mind those times can sway a little due to weather.
Why a mid week start? We used to start and take out on weekends, as do all the lodges, which makes the float planes schedule a jam packed schedule. Put a little fog into the equation where there is a 3 hour delay, and the lodges get taken care of first, we now have a 6 hour delay from getting off the water which makes for missed flights going back home. With the lodges out of the equation, even with a delay, we make it in time for shower and flights back home.
Do women take these trips? The answer is absolutely! While it is still a camping trip, we keep the comfort level high. Guys have brought their better half with them, just so they could be taught to fly fish. What better place to learn than in the AK. Then there is the avid "fly girl" whose looking for that epic fishing expedition.
Can you take a shower? While we have a solar shower available, it is rarely used. The islands we camp on are small and brushy enough for the privacy of stripping down and washing up. The cool water is refreshing, the bugs are gone during the heat of the day, and you will feel Great!
What are the ages of people that make the trip? We’ve had kids as young as 11, and the young at heart in their late 70’s. The hardest physical labor is one of the reasons your guides are there. If you can catch fish, get in and out of a sleeping bag, and wade in a little water, chances are you will do just fine.
What do you do in an emergency situation? Remember that we are in the bush. While we are very knowledgeable in first aid, it could take 6 to 24 hours to get someone out. Cell phones don’t work! And there have been times satellite phones have had a time getting a signal. Radio contact with a passing plane, flagging down a jet boat from a lodge, or floating to a downstream lodge is as good as it gets, as float planes can‘t land everywhere.
How bad are the bugs? There are times they are non-existent, and there are periods in which they are in your face and lots of them. A head net is recommended, if a hundred black flies flying 6” from your nose really annoys you. The slightest breeze or wind knocks them out of commission, as does the heat of a blue bird day. Peak times are in the morning, as the day starts to warm up, and in the evening when the day starts to cool a bit. A little deet goes a long way.
What’s the weather like? Temperature can range from 45 to 75 degrees, in a day. That‘s coastal weather of Alaska. There are days the temps will fluctuate several times though out the day in that range. The last few years we’ve had temps well into the mid 80’s. Through the course of the summer, we’ve had on occasion fairly wet weeks, in which there was constant cloud cover with intermittent rain and mist through out the day; but no mosquito's and black flies!
What is the peak time? That is a multi week question. Are you after lots of fish, keyed in on Kings, or keyed in on Rainbows. As the river drains the bush throughout the summer, 5 species of salmon, rainbows, grayling and char, are in the river at one time or another. By expressing your interest to us, we can put the best possible peak week in your hands. While peaks may waver a week or two for and aft of the calendar, there is always fish to target, and more times than not, a variety of species to test ones angling skills in the course of a week.
Does much does the river fluctuate as far clarity and height? This river system is unique over many other river systems in Alaska; it just does not get muddy with glacial silt and run off from the mountains. The two lakes, Kukalik and Nonvianuk, act as a filtration system and helps regulate flow. Typically, the water is highest late June and early July, dropping significantly each week, to the point where we have low water in August.
There have been very few years, during the early part of the season, due to high water, where we primarily target the upper half of the river (and do very well), as the lower half in the flats, is impossible to camp due to flooding. With the experience and knowledge we have in reading the river system, in extreme river conditions, we’ve been able to successfully complete a week, in “wader friendly” areas, and not feel cheated.
How big of groups do you take? We like groups of 4, which make the quality of fishing in a camping area top notch. We have taken groups of 6 and 8, of which some parties in the group were not fishaholics. It’s much easier with larger groups during the July Sockeye season, as there are plenty of fish, and plenty of room for the group in the many shallow, island channels. With groups of 6, three guides and rafts are used.
Are the bears aggressive? Absolutely Not! I sleep very well at night. The Alaskan Brown bear (same genus and species as the grizzly) are kind of migratory, and we see the most of them during the Sockeye migration, as that is their favorite fish. During this time period, we have seen as many as 40 sightings in the course of a week and as close as 10 yds, as they walk along the shoreline pouncing on fish. As late July comes in, the bear’s sightings decrease as the majority of them have migrated to the upper tributaries where the sockeye salmon spawn. By keeping a clean camp and giving bears their space, we have never had an encounter to where our firearms had to be used. With that being said, we never take them for granted, and they have our attention, but it would be very disappointing if we didn’t see them in this truly wilderness environment.