Tikchik Narrows Alaska Fishing News & Updates
Alaska Arctic Char & Rainbow Trout Gallery
From Jack Boland
Our fishing program is paramount here at Tikchik Narrows Lodge, but naturally, a visit to our region in Alaska offers so much more than fishing. Here are a few examples of non-fishing activities that we offer at Tikchik Narrows Lodge.
1. Visit Mirror Bay – Mirror Bay sits tucked under the Wood-River mountains on the western edge of our home water – Nuyukuk Lake. The bay is absolutely stunning, and is best known for the incredible mountain reflection that it presents on a calm day. Head up to the bay on a calm morning, and enjoy a picnic in our comfortable lake boat. You may see caribou, bears, and bald eagles along the way. This adventure is definitely a staff favorite.
2. See the Bears at Brooks Falls – Brooks Falls is world famous for the convergence of brown bears during the sockeye salmon run on the Brooks River. When the bears are there, we’ll fly to Katmai to see one of planet Earth’s most incredible wildlife spectacles. You have probably seen the National Geographic photos of the scene, but you can never replace visiting the site in person. The next best thing is watching the bear cam provided by Katmai National Park.
3. A Shore Lunch on the Allen River – The Allen River is about a 40 minute boat ride from the lodge. The river does offer some great fishing during certain periods of the season, but this stunning canyon is worth a visit throughout the summer. On a nice day, we can drive you up the first falls in one of our jet boats and have a picnic amidst the canyon walls. The gin clear water looks more like a scene from New Zealand than Alaska.
We have our own aquarium under the dock at Tikchik Narrows Lodge. Ever now and then, we’ll throw a few salmon filet scraps to see what’s out there.
Many anglers come to Alaska to experience the thrill of hooking the largest of the Pacific Salmon species – the renowned King Salmon (Chinook Salmon). These beastly salmonids can get up to 70lbs+ in our local waters. But hooking a fish like this is only the beginning. Successfully fighting and landing a 45 lb freight train bound for the salt is no easy task. Here are 3 helpful tips for fighting a big King:
Set the hook, and then set it again!
When a big King Salmon eats your fly/lure/plug or whatever, you know that’s only the beginning of a long battle. Sometimes our initial hook sets are weak because of our unassuming position during the retrieve. Or maybe, you just weren’t ready for the strike. If you don’t get a solid hook set the first time when you initially feel the tug, don’t be afraid to raise the rod hard again, giving the fish a 2nd or 3rd hook set. Trust me, you want to make sure you’ve sunk the hook because these fish are ferocious, and you need every advantage you can get to keep them on.
Chase the fish!
If you have a King Salmon on, and he’s acting like an upset sea monster headed back to Bristol Bay from which he came, he’s going to take some line. This is part of the fun in catching large feisty fish. But having your backing slowly disappearing off your real is not a promising sign of landing your salmon. The more line you have out there, the better chance that King Salmon has at rubbing your hook off or breaking your line. Take control. Tighten your drag a few clicks and see if you can make up ground on the fish, by walking/drifting/motoring toward the runaway freight train. Your guide will assist in this effort. Reel in as you get closer and closer to the fish, making sure to keep a steady bend in the rod without too much bouncing or irregular motion. Once you have that dog on a short leash, your chance to land the fish has improved drastically.
Make the fish work!
King Salmon are heavy – often really heavy. At times (especially with fly rods) Kings can simply use the current and their weight to rest lazily behind a rock mid-river. In this instance, the fish is playing the long game – hoping that time and impatience will set them free. Depending on circumstances, letting a fish hunker down like this doesn’t help your chances. But, you can’t just winch the fish out without the proper technique. The real key to making a fish work is to apply side pressure. Side pressure is when you direct your force 90 degrees from where the fish is facing. Most anglers do this by lowing their rod tip to waist height or lower. The result is the best mechanical and physical angle for moving that fish. Some people call this technique,“walking the dog.“ When applying the side pressure, slowly move your rod upstream. As you do this, the fish obviously is heading upstream as well. Sort of like, well, walking your dog. You are leading the fish where you want him to go.
This gallery contains 20 photos.
From TNL Guide Joe Leonardelli’s Instagram – @brewcitydelli #Tikchik
We’re about halfway through our fishing season, and what a great summer it has been. Bristol Bay had fantastic weather this spring, with a very warm and sunny June. The King Salmon on the Nushagak River arrived early and stayed steady for 3 great weeks. Long time Tikchik guide Tim Stelzer had a week he considered “as good as the old days”. The Nushagak met its King Salmon escapement goal with over 100,000 fish. The age class of the Kings this year were also impressive with many fish over 30 lbs. And, the shift to our mid-river camp also saw great fishing with a King Salmon 40 lbs released daily for an entire week. The Togiak also surprised us with the strongest run of King Salmon in years. The Kulukuk River has been very low and had a modest King run. With that said, we experienced a good number of Chums coming into that river, so there was always great fishing (and you can’t beat the scenery).
With the early hot and dry weather, all the rivers were low and clear. The Upper Nushagak fished well for Rainbow Trout right out of the gate. Our guides and guests are currently reporting great fishing for Dolly Varden, Trout, and Grayling there with the Chum and King Salmon spread out and spawning. Seeing the amount of Chums coming up the Nushagak, we’re looking forward to fishing behind spawning Chum Salmon for another 3 weeks!
The local waters at Tikchik Narrows Lodge have been outstanding with the Narrows stuffed with Char and Lake Trout early – feeding on the outrun of smolt. Opening day even yielded two rainbows of trophy caliber. The Agulukpak River and other wood river tributaries have also been strong for us with great dry fly fishing many days – Rainbow Trout up to 25 inches! As forecasted, Bristol Bay has had a near record sockeye run, and well past escapement on all the main river systems. We expect outstanding late summer and fall fishing for trout in all our nearby rivers.
Photos by John Lobser
For those guests who are interested, Tikchik offers the most spectacular bear viewing/photography trip to Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park. This is the most iconic bear viewing location in Alaska, and by extension, the world. People travel from all over the globe to see this phenomenon, when hundreds of Alaska brown bears migrate to the falls to feed on the sockeye salmon pushing up the river to their spawning grounds. Get a taste of this experience through these fantastic photos.